Looking into the future for the University of Central Arkansas, President Tom Courtway has some goals to make the school thrive.
Courtway shared these goals — along with a snapshot progress report and a look at some challenges that could impede these goals — at the Conway Noon Lions Club meeting Oct. 22.
The first goal for UCA Courtway outlined was to be considered one of the top regional universities in the south.
"We made the top 30 in the publics, but I want to get much higher than that," Courtway said.
The second goal mentioned was to create a campus that would attract and retain students, faculty and staff. Courtway said measures have been taken toward this goal, including the board’s approval of new Greek housing. Courtway also mentioned plans for a new nursing and speech pathology building a new wing on Lewis Science Center.
"Lewis Science Center needs a face lift. It needs gutting. It needs renovation. It needs more space for our laboratories and our science faculty," he said. "That is the most critical academic need right now."
There are also plans for a development on the east side of Donaghey Ave., which Courtway said an architect is already looking at.
"Think about it: The block with Papa Johns Pizza on it, that block with a ground floor of commercial and businesses with student housing above it," he said. "It’s similar to what Hendrix is doing but on Donaghey."
The third goal is to increase outreach and external relations.
"I’ve got to do a better job of going out to see people and get money for UCA," Courtway said. "I’ve got to be connected to our alumni."
There are challenges with these goals, but Courtway identified one major challenge the university will have to overcome, especially concerning Goal Two.
"This is the most critical challenge — in my opinion — facing higher education: Funds for the construction of academic buildings," he said. "Every academic building in every public university in the state of Arkansas was paid for majority by state funds."
The academic buildings are harder to pay for because residential units are money-makers, bringing in room and board as students live there semester after semester.
"I can build residents halls and put a students in there and pay for that building with room and board," he said. "The only way I can build an academic building if there’s no state help, I either have to raise the private funds to do it or raise tuition."
Courtway said the state has put $814 million into facilities for K-12 facilities while it’s put $96 million in higher education facilities.
He said he did not want to take away from K-12 facilities and he is a big believer in what they accomplish, but he said there needs to be a long-term plan to fund construction projects on academic buildings in higher education settings.
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