Dr. Latisha Settlage may be a numbers person, but she knows that numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Speaking about her recently completed research on the economic impact of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, Settlage said, “It’s the qualitative aspect that really is missed with the numbers.”
Still, the numbers are worth a look.
Considering the time from the construction of Windgate Art & Design to the time of the construction of the Recreation and Wellness Center, a period just longer than fiscal 2016, Settlage concluded the university had a $300 million impact on the regional economy.
But that’s still only part of the story, Settlage says.
Consider Mentor Connections, Settlage said. Alumni Director Rick Goins’ salary is captured in the economic impact study. But that’s an incomplete picture.
“There is a very small piece (of the data) representing Mentor Connections, but we know that Mentor Connections is so much more,” Settlage said. Who can say what a few hours over the course of a year with community leaders like Sam Sicard or Bill Hanna or Judy McReynolds are worth to a hardworking student?
Nina Vu Knows a little about that.
An international student from Vietnam, Vu considers her UAFS experiences to be “magical,” from meeting Takeo Suzuki, to being awarded a Chancellor’s Leadership Council scholarship, to being teamed with Keith Lux and Mat Pitsch in Mentor Connections.
Her experience at UAFS has been more than she expected, she said, praising the university’s faculty and quality of education, the donors who made it all possible, and the mentors who always have time for her questions. What is the value of helping a young woman find her confidence and learn what she wants to do with her life?
Those effects cannot be counted in numbers or shown on a pie chart.