University of Central Arkansas President Houston Davis went before Conway Kiwanis Club members May 16 to talk about what’s going on around the campus and its happenings since he took office nearly 16 months ago.
The university’s 11th president told members that so far, his experience in Conway and on campus has flown by but has been a great start both professionally and personally. He said that was because Conway is a “great place to live and work,” due to the community itself.
“Communities [can’t be] as special as this without the hard work of a lot of people and many of those individuals are in this room,” he said.
Davis said that it’s fair after a year and a half at UCA, to be able to talk about what is going on and where it is going as they head into the future.
He said it’s important to have started thinking about where enrollment numbers were. Based on those, he said, some were concerned the past couple of years when they saw a dip overall.
“That wasn’t necessarily a surprise from public higher education in Arkansas but the private and public sectors have seen downturns just because of demographics,” Davis said.
He said there aren’t as many 17, 18, and 19 year olds, as history has shown, but he expects an uptick in that in the coming years.
Growth potential across the university, Davis said, is something they are in the know about and are looking at.
He said that the board of trustees is aware of the fact and are thinking in terms of growth potential and need to make certain that there’s a lot of value to students, and they need to hold down overall costs.
Davis said UCA’s tuition and fees have been below the state average every year for the past five years, which he thinks holds true this year as well.
“Not only are we proud of the fact that in our incoming freshman class, the quality of ACT, the quality of GPA, the quality [inaudible], but we’re very proud of the fact that we do have and we deliver a lot of value to students because we do have modest costs,” he said.
Regarding fees, the board of trustees voted to increase tuition and fees 2.66 percent for undergraduate students and 2.3 percent for graduate students during its annual meeting in May.
“Based on the current year enrollment of full-time equivalent students, this increase will generate approximately $2.1 million in additional revenue for educational and general (E&G) fund, and $100,000 for auxiliary services fund,” the board agenda read in part. “The additional revenue will be applied toward technology refresh, facility maintenance and debt, Student Health Center operations, and student success initiatives.”
Examples of those student success initiatives include need-based initiative, note takers for disability services, a Hispanic recruiter and student success coach.
Davis talked about the success of UCA’s scholarships awarded, which sits at $1.1 million for this year, the first time in UCA’s history to go over $ 1 million. He said that this year is also a milestone in the UCA Foundation’s 31-years of experience to surpass $10 million across those years.
“We are proud of those milestones,” he said.
Davis said he is proud of UCA’s fundraising, which brought in $9.95 million, the most the university has raised in a single year and how the most remarkable part of that is the biggest gift is $1 million.
“It really is, it’s about the number of people who are choosing to invest in UCA and what’s happening there,” he said.
Another success Davis spoke with Kiwanis members about was the great accomplishment of the UCA Day of Giving which brought in $434,000 in 24 hours, 10 times the record amount of the school in prior years.
“That really is remarkable but let me tell you another statistic that I don’t mind talking about this … there’s that little school up in Fayetteville … that’s $800 more than they raised and they took a day in a half to do it,” he said, sending the audience into cheers. “I’d like to think I joined a campus and a community that doesn’t shy away from anything and plays second fiddle to no one and as we get in there into the fray, we certainly are not going to shy away from a challenge.”