According to University of Central Arkansas officials and a financial report delivered to the college’s Board of Trustees on Friday, the university’s financial turnaround is “just short of a miracle.”
President Allen Meadors and Diane Newton, vice president for finance and administration, presented comparison data for the university’s current financial standings entering into the 2010 fall semester, versus years past.

Meadors told the Board that 2007 net cash data showed the university to be $3.1 million in the negative. Fiscal data ending June 30, 2010 showed a positive swing of $26.4 million.

“Our bond rating has gone up two times since January,” Meadors said.

The school saw two upgrades in its Moody’s Investor Services debt rating in the time specified and currently maintains an A3 rating.

“We may see an upgrade again ending in 2010,” Meadors said.

According to Newton, UCA’s cash position, in one year, went from $6.1 million to $23 million.

Newton cited stimulus monies, bond reimbursements, sizable university gifts, controlled spending and even the lack of faculty raises as possible contributing factors.

UCA’s “money in the bank” sits at $19.9 million, versus 2009’s $11.1 million.

“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re getting there,” Newton said. “It’s all because of our board, our president and his vision for the university and the people working here. I was thrilled to give that update. We have a good story to tell and we’re telling it.”

The board approved a resolution authorizing the issuance of, and restructuring of university bonds.

About $19 million in existing bonds will be restructured, and new bonds in the amount of $22 million will be issued.

“Because of the restructuring, our annual debt service will not change,” Newton said.

The largest portion of funds will be used to construct a new residence hall on the campus.

“We’re hoping several million will be left for some renovations of some residence halls,” Newton said.

The university hopes to close on the bonds in mid-September, and the goal is to fill the new facility by the fall, 2012 semester.

Newton said the university will look at three potential sites, and Minton Hall, which has sat vacant due to inadequacies, will come down.

As the semester begins, UCA has 200 beds available on campus, with a 93.3 percent occupancy rate.

The new facility would provide for 350 students, giving the university the ability to take some halls offline for potential renovations.

“We are building for growth and providing flexibility. We can’t wait until they are needed,” Newton said.

Meadors’ presidential report stated that the school’s early enrollment figures show that freshman, transfer and graduate numbers are up, while concurrent enrollment figures, though tentative, show 100 less students this year.

The board also saw a preview of the university’s first official iPhone application, a tool that will provide students and visitors with a map of campus parking, updated event photos and “useful contacts.”

(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