While head counts at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope have shown a slight decline for Spring, 2013, compared with last year, the trend of growth which UACCH has experienced in recent years remains among the highest in Arkansas, the UACCH Board of Visitors learned Friday. UACCH Chancellor Chris Thomason presented an overview of UACCH as it turns the calendar year for 2013, noting that combined enrollment trends at the Hope and newly-opened Texarkana campuses put the college at the top of enrollment growth and graduation rate percentages in the University of Arkansas System, and No. 2 statewide for higher education institutions. Thomason said the trends were in keeping with UACCH's commitment to meet the Governor's Challenge in Governor Mike Beebe's program for higher education. “If you look from 2004 to 2008, we awarded 1,119 degrees,” he said. “Since 2008, with the last graduation, we awarded 2,073 degrees. “Everybody put so much focus on how much our enrollment has increased; but, we want our students to know that the number one reason we have them enrolled is to graduate,” Thomason said. “As you know, we pointed out that we are number one in graduation rates, especially among first time, full time graduates, and were among the top five in the state. We can't graduate you if we can't get you in. Again, we were ranked number one in the UA System and second in the state.” Thomason said UACCH has also produced 40 percent growth among students enrolled under the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship program. He said aid to UACCH students has shown an overall $2 million increase, with $147,711 in institutional scholarships; $85,814 in UACCH Foundation scholarships; $82,683 in other scholarships awarded this year, along with $7.36 million in state and federal financial aid. Enrollment has trended upward significantly from 2009-2011, Thomason said, spiking from 1,37 students in Spring, 2009, to 1,509 in Spring, 2010, as new programs such as the Power Plant Technology course of study developed. Spring, 2011, showed 1,437 students enrolled, dropping to 1,249 in Spring, 2012. By contrast, the early head count of January, 2012, of 1,270 dipped to 1,252 this year, he said. Those trends have been the result, in part, of the continuing impact of the Arkansas Lottery Scholarships and how they have changed, as well as the development of the Texarkana campus, and changes in non-traditional student enrollments, he said. As well, Thomason pointed out that the PPT program has graduated 77 students, to date, and the impact of the scholarships endowed by AEP/Southwestern Electric Power Co. has begun to diminish.