Dr. Allen Meadors, president of the University of Central Arkansas, spoke to the Conway Kiwanis Club on Wednesday about his plans for the university.

Meadors is a UCA alumnus. He came to UCA from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where he served as chancellor for the past 10 years. He spoke briefly to the club on Wednesday and then answered questions.

"I’m a very student-oriented administrator," he said. "To give them everything they need, we have to take care of our faculty and staff, but our end goal is to give them the best education possible."

Meadors said lessons learned outside the classroom are just as important as those learned inside the classroom.

"I see the educational process as a total process," he said. "My whole job is to get everyone going in the same direction."

He added faculty came into the field to educate students, and the administration needs to give them the opportunity to focus on teaching rather than other issues.

In response to a question about finances, Meadors said, "I’m financially conservative. You don’t spend money until you have it."

He added his way of financial thinking is a change for the university.

Meadors continued, "It’s not just a good university, it’s a great university. There’s nowhere else in the state of Arkansas or anywhere else a student can go and have a better experience. I believe Conway can become the premier college town in America."

He said he has not seen any "town-gown" conflicts.

"Companies look for those positive relationships. In the next few years, when you open a magazine, Conway could be on the front page," he said.

Regarding athletics and academics, Meadors said athletics are "just a part of the university" with academics being the most important part.

"Athletics and the marching band are all important. We have to find a way to pay for that," he said.

In his month with the university, he said, he has perceived that the university went after Division 1 status without thinking of how to pay for it.

"We’ll find a way to pay for it, not at the cost of academics or any of our other services," he said. However, the cost of tuition has to be balanced, so the fix will not be immediate, he added.

Among his first priorities, he said, are getting around campus, meeting people and "getting everyone feeling comfortable." Also, he said, the university needs to have 5 percent reserves for unexpected expenses. At this time the university has no reserves, he said.

A listener asked about UCA’s status as a producer of teachers.

Meadors said, "We want all our colleges to be strong, but without question, our college of education needs to be the best. It’s our legacy. I want us to put out the best teachers in the state."

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)