University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees solidified plans for a collaborative partnership with Conway Regional Health System at the group’s quarterly meeting Friday.

The collaboration will produce a health care education center at what is now a parking lot on the corner of Western and College avenues, proposed to meet educational needs of CRHS staff, area health professionals, UCA’s Department of Nursing students and citizens of Conway.

Conway Regional CEO Jim Lambert said funding responsibilities between the two entities had not yet been determined.

"We know that we are funding architectural fees for a rendering for potential investors to see," Lambert said.

UCA President Allen Meadors said the concern is simply, "funding," and not between "who raises how much."

Barbara Williams, nursing department chair, told the board the program would be relocated to the building, allowing space for new students, though funding was not available for departmental expansion.

"What this will do, is allow students a better education and it will increase the quality level so that when they leave, they are ready to assume their role in the health care profession," Williams said.

The board’s agenda stated the building would include health care simulation labs, classrooms, offices and an auditorium for community health education programs.

The board also approved two increases for students, in meal plans and room and board.

Diane Newton, vice president of finance and administration, said the school’s food service provider, Aramark, agreed to increase donations to athletics and provide students with additional dining options under an increased contract fee.

Newton said that the Student Government Association was in support of the plan that would add more offerings with an increase to the students of 3.8 percent.

Room and board at the university increased by 3 percent, with the SGA unanimously supporting room rate increases. Newton said that the board increase vote was not unanimous. 

Newton said it is not known yet if the increases will shift the school’s placement in student costs among other universities. 

Trustee Rush Harding III donated $112,500 in private funds to build an amphitheater in the Student Center courtyard following a presentation by SGA President Meghan Thompson.

"I’m good for half of it if the trustees are good for the other half," Harding said.

Thompson outlined the results of a recent contest, "Think Big! Project," where students, faculty and staff submitted proposals that would benefit the UCA community. 

The winning proposal was the construction of an amphitheater that Thompson said would be ideal for pep rallies, outdoor classes, welcome week activities and other student congregations.  

Harding said he was impressed with the proposal and "happy to see young people excited about something."

The SGA allocated $50,000 toward the amphitheater and Housing will contribute $25,000. 

The board allocated an additional $112,500 from its Board of Trustees fund.

In other business, the UCA Board of Trustees approved:

• Several contracts and capital projects including more than $1 million for sidewalks, roof replacement and a heating and air conditioning system; $1.4 million from bond and housing repair and replacement funds for fire sprinklers, restroom renovations and fan coil units in Arkansas Hall; $1.5 million in private gifts and Foundation borrowing for a weight training facility to be added to the Pepsi Center; and $1 million from capital reserves for artificial turf for football and softball fields. 

• A memorandum of understanding between UCA and the UCA Foundation to lease the fifth floor of Bear Hall to the school, who will rent the "skybox suites" to individuals and corporations. 

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