University of Central Arkansas trustees approved a fee increase Monday for prospective 2012-13 students who will reside on campus.

The 3 percent increase, endorsed by the Student Government Association, will put the university’s room and board rate for a traditional room and meal plan at $2,635, up from $2,590.

The change effects the room rate, and not the board charge.

The percentage is the same that trustees approved of in February of last year, due to a "daunting maintenance list," Dianne Newton, vice president of finance and administration, said at the time.

Board documents again point to maintenance items for university housing that are "estimated to be in excess of $17,000,000."

In the fall, the newest 120,000-square-foot residential facility, Bear Hall, will be open for students.

The building, equipped with privately funded skyboxes that overlook Estes Stadium, will have a premium rate for occupancy. Bear Hall double occupancy rooms will be $1,615 per semester, versus $1,515 in other halls.

Courtway said that with the increase, UCA is sixth in room and board rates among comparable Arkansas institutions.

UCA found a new agreement with Aramark food vendor, which would "wipe clean" $6.7 million in unamortized funds and interest if the school accepted the bid’s terms.

A term agreed upon was a 1 percent increase in fees paid to Aramark over previous negotiations. Vice President of Government and University Relations Jeff Pitchford said that this increase would be absorbed by the university and not passed to students.

Under the contract’s provisions, UCA agrees to exclusivity to Aramark on campus, to the amortization of existing and new "capital investments," or improvements to the campus by Aramark through past contractual agreements, a contract term of 10 years and one month, and commissions on retail sales.

"For the first time in a long time, if we stay in contract for 10 years, at the end of the 10-year period, we won’t owe Aramark money for principal balance and that’s an important change," Courtway said.

Under the proposed agreement, Aramark would make additional capital investments in the amount of $1,575,000 to the student center food court and the library’s Starbucks location. A new food truck and a deli will be added for meal options.

An investment of $900,000 will be made in the cafeteria and the Bear Village Store. New investments total $2,475,000, but would only be made if the university agrees to go through with the changes.

In other business, the board:

• Approved $200,000 from the Board of Trustees’ University Improvement Fund to be pledged for the SGA Amphitheater construction. The lowest bid on the project came in more than $190,000 over the university’s initial estimate. Trustees agreed to dedicate money from the fund, which was to be capped at $200,000 by July 1 per a recent resolution adopted by the board, in an attempt to re-allocate the funds.

• Appointed the following individuals to the President’s Residence Advisory Committee: trustee Elizabeth Farris; Austin Hall, SGA; Ann Bryant, UCA faculty; Don Bingham, UCA staff; Patsy Newton, alumni association; Sue Snow Cooper, UCA Foundation, and at-large members Lynne Tiner, Jane Arthurs, and Georg Anderson.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at