The University of Central Arkansas broke ground on its newest residence hall during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

Bear Hall, the $18 million residence hall scheduled to open in the fall of 2012, will replace Minton Hall, which has been closed for three years.

Rick McCollum, interim director of housing and residence life, said the department was excited to begin construction of the new hall and stressed the importance of satisfying all UCA students.

"We want to make sure we take care of all of our students," McCollum said.

UCA Student Government Association Executive Vice President Meghan Thompson described her experience as a campus resident as "nothing but wonderful." Thompson told ceremony attendees that living on campus keeps students involved and connected to the university.

Speaking on behalf of the student body, Thompson said the UCA student community was "very grateful" for the addition of the new hall.

Dr. Allen Meadors, UCA president, noted that Bear Hall’s status as a LEED building, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, will help move the university forward in becoming more environmentally friendly. 

Bear Hall is a 114,000-square foot residence hall, housing 385 beds in suite-style rooms. It will include three seminar rooms, two apartments, a large lobby area with a kitchen and laundry and study rooms.

The fifth level of the new hall, which will be located directly behind the visitors stands at Estes Stadium, will feature 12 20-person skyboxes. The boxes will include private entrances, reserved parking and a separate lobby and elevators.

Meadors said all expenses for the fifth level will come from private funds.

The construction of Bear Hall will include 50,000 bricks from Minton Hall, which will soon be demolished.

The new residencehall is being funded through a bond issue. McCollum said part of the bond proceeds will help add security and safety enhancements, as well as updates to the community shower areas in several residence halls on campus.

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