Tarkio College works to reopen as two-year institution
An application for Tarkio College to reopen as a two-year institute of higher learning has been submitted to the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
Tarkio College had operated in northwest Missouri – about a 30-minute drive from Hamburg or Shenandoah – in Tarkio, Missouri, from 1883 to 1992, according to the city.
Robert Hughes, a graduate and now president of the college, said the reopening was made possible after the college property was donated to its alumni association. Tarkio College currently operates as a center for professional continuing education.
“Twenty-nine acres of the campus itself and 11 buildings were gifted to the Tarkio College Alumni Association by Heartland Educational Institute that inherited the land when the college ceased operating in 1992,” Hughes said.
The college closed, according to a 1991 New York Times story, after earning the distinction of holding the highest loan default rate in the United States. The liberal arts college ended up owing more than $22 million to the federal government after dealing loans and grants to ineligible students.
Two pieces of property – the gymnasium and Woodruff Apartments – were not included in the gift to the alumni association, Hughes said. The gym was converted to a community fitness center and the apartments were in too much disrepair.
“The Department of Higher Education will look at our assets when evaluating whether we are approved,” he said, adding that having debt-free building provides the college with stability.
The initial goals of the alumni association, while waiting for state’s approval, are to renovate Rankin Hall and the Thompson Learning Library. Rankin Hall will be used as an administration building and for celebratory functions. The three-storied Thompson Learning Library will be used for classes.
Hughes said a fundraising firm out of Kansas City has been hired to help raise funds for various improvements that need to be made to the campus.
If granted approval, Hughes said the college would like to begin offering classes as soon as possible. With a four-month application process, that could be as early as January 2017.
“We are excited,” Hughes said.
Until the college is approved by the state, Hughes said it shouldn’t market itself. However, he said extensive studies have been done to see what was needed in the region. Fifty school districts within 60 miles of Tarkio were asked what their students needed for higher learning.