Ozarka College in Melbourne and Fulton County Hospital in Salem entered into an agreement last week to offer college courses at the hospital next year.
Gary Phillips, Ozarka College Foundation board member, said the college will offer three classes in the spring of 2006.
Which courses will be offered is undetermined at this time, but Phillips said they would be basic classes such as college English, math or history.
"We're are looking at establishing a permanent presence with the hospital," Phillips said. "This is just the first step."
Advanced medical courses such as medical terminology and nursing classes will be offered at a later date, Phillips said.
He said his ultimate goal is to have a branch of Ozarka College inside the hospital.
Fulton County Hospital is scheduled to undergo renovations starting at the end of this year and Phillips said he hopes there will be room for classrooms.
"Higher education is a vital, tool for the economic growth of the community," said Phillips, who also serves as president of the Salem Chamber of Commerce.
Ozarka College offers classes at the Salem High School but the arrangement is problematic, Phillips said.
He said the classes are only offered at night and someone has to unlock the school for instructors and students to get in.
"We want a situation in which classes can be scheduled at different times during the day, and instructors would have access to their own classrooms," Phillips said.
He said Ozarka College and the hospital are seeking input from the public as to which classes would be the most useful and which times would be the most convenient.
For more information contact Phillips at 870-895-5165 or e-mail him at gary@SalemAR.com.