UA-Fort Smith Grows With Ambition

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 12:00 am  

The entrance to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith with the Reynolds Bell Tower Carillon visible in the distance.

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith has had distinct phases of change, including the transition that began in 2002 from community college to four-year regional university.

From its beginnings as a junior college with 34 students, UAFS has grown in the past decade to an enrollment of more than 7,000 full-time-equivalent students while serving nearly 20,000 students annually. The university’s 1,100 full- and part-time employees include 240 full-time faculty members and 600-plus full-time staff.

UAFS provides accredited programs with a strong educational foundation and built-in opportunities to spur economic development. A growing slate of bachelor’s degree programs has joined a well-established array of technical and two-year certificate offerings, and the university is taking steps to launch its first master’s degree program in the near future.

The school is proud to be driven by its connections to the community and says it demonstrates a responsiveness to the area’s education and training needs. The university is prepared for more changes – and a future buoyed by an endowment fund that grew to $60 million by the end of June 2013.

Students coming to campus benefit from expanded student housing – including a 460-bed dormitory and a 480-bed apartment complex for upper-level and married students – as well as a thriving Greek Life program, NCAA Division II athletic events and a state-of-the-art library with a newly-added $14 million research facility.

During the past year, UAFS has developed a master plan that envisions ambitious changes to the 170-acre campus that will include expansion or replacement of existing buildings and construction of new facilities to house a wide variety of academic and cultural activities. Construction on the first new project, the art building for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, begins in early 2014. UAFS is receiving a $15.5 million grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation of Siloam Springs to construct and equip the new visual arts facility, with the final $2.5 million of the grant commitment as a challenge grant to match other donations raised by UAFS.

The excitement does not end with master plan, however. A recently acquired building on 101 N. Second St. was officially renamed The Blue Lion at UAFS Downtown. UAFS plans to hold a variety of concerts, art exhibits and other events in this wonderful facility.

UAFS launched its first mobile app for iTunes and Google Play in November 2013 and has already attracted more than 10,000 users. The app includes event announcements, news, admissions, degree information, athletics, Season of Entertainment, and even the ability to apply for admission to UAFS.

In June 2013, the College of Business at the UAFS earned accreditation by AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Earned by less than 5 percent of the world’s business programs, AACSB International accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools. AACSB-accredited institutions confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement through a rigorous and comprehensive peer review.

Interlacing beloved traditions with innovation and growth, the university always welcomes students, faculty and staff who broaden the complexion of the school, embrace the region and strengthen communities.



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