UCA Trustees Approve Fees, Rates Increase; Science Center Expansion Gets OK

The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees on Friday approved increases to room and board rates and student fees. The board also approved a plan to expand and renovate its science building.

Trustees approved a $3.50 per credit hour increase to the student facility fee to fund bonds for the $17.5 million Lewis Science Center project.

The science center was originally constructed as a 53,000-SF building in 1965. In 1987, a two-story, 62,000-SF addition was built.

The most recently approved addition will add about 50,000-SF to the academic facility. The plan will also replace the roof of the existing structure.

"We’ve been working toward this project for a long time," Steven Runge, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said at the board meeting. "The people who work and study in this building have done an exemplary job in a facility that has served its purpose."

The three-story addition will add teaching, learning and research space to accommodate current and future teaching methods. Included in the design are features to allow for improvements to equipment efficiency and energy use with LEED certification.

The university is set to design and prepare bid documents between March and September, and construction of the add-on is scheduled to begin in January 2015 with an estimated completion date in October 2016.

Classes are planned to begin in the add-on in January 2017.

With $4 million in reserve funds, the university has $13.5 million left to be bonded to complete the project. The leftover amount is expected to be covered by the increase in the student facility fee.

The board also approved a 4.5 percent increase in room and board rates, which brings its total for the 2014-15 academic year to $2,889. The increase means students will pay an additional $124 per semester.

The Log Cabin Democrat reported Friday that the board also approved an increase in undergraduate admission standards. Beginning in 2015, incoming students will be required to have a high school GPA of 2.75, and an ACT score of 20. The board voted to increase the required ACT score to 21 in 2018.

Trustees also revised its smoking and tobacco use policy to also include the prohibition of electronic cigarettes on campus.