Marla Strecker transferred to Henderson State as an undergraduate in 1997 after marrying her fiancé who chose Henderson for its aviation program.
After completing her B.A. in English, Strecker enrolled in Henderson’s Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) program and completed her thesis defense in 2001.
Strecker, a Batesville native, has taught and worked in higher education since earning her MLA.
“From teaching at a community college to directing graduate programs at a university, my MLA enabled me to work in higher education and also to pursue my terminal degree,” she said.
Strecker is currently the senior associate for Academic Affairs at the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. She was recently named the new provost for University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College in Little Rock and will begin that role in September.
Strecker credits her MLA degree for her continued success in higher education.
“I would not have my career without my MLA nor the skills gleaned from an authentic liberal arts curriculum,” she said. “From developing my first lesson plan to drafting state academic policy, all facets of an education in liberal arts apply to the growth of my professional skills set, especially the ability to learn from my mistakes and move forward shaping spaces with positive change in a collaborative manner.
“Also, my value of shared-governance and the core functions of higher education are founded in that educational experience.”
Strecker said that during her time as an undergraduate in the English department, she developed a close bond and “high-level of respect for the faculty members and their commitment to fostering a sense of inquiry and appreciation for liberal arts.”
“The curriculum of the MLA program was carefully orchestrated to truly encourage growth in critical thought,” she said. “Of all the coursework I’ve completed in my academic journey, I was most enlightened by the synergy created in our Truth, Order and Beauty course.”
Strecker urges current MLA students to “choose wisely.”
“With your liberal arts degree, you are armed to do anything,” she said. “That is what our liberal arts education affords each of us – choice.
“Leverage your ability to think critically. Use it to bring hope and understanding into our world. Leave it a better place than it is right now.”
Strecker said she has developed a lifelong passion for protecting higher education experiences for future students.
“This passion became a career in which I’ve had the opportunity to draft policies and serve in various administrative roles to improve opportunity, access and quality,” she said.
In 2013, Strecker was cited by the Arkansas Senate for her work as an educator and advocate for Arkansas higher education. She also received the Southern Arkansas Women’s Network Career Achievement Award for her career in Arkansas education.
“I hope to always work in higher education because we create opportunities that can and do change lives,” she said. “In higher education, we create a place where hopes and dreams are fostered and skills are honed, where citizens can participate in civil discourse and develop open minds not threatened by differing opinions.”
Strecker describes herself as a “dreamer with a dash of pragmatism” who has an obsession with Star Trek.
“Sadly, I am not fluent in Klingon.”
• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson’s outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.