The face of UALR has changed dramatically in the UALR Fast Forward years. From facilities, grounds, and technology to alumni programs, public relations, and external funding, UALR has undergone an impressive transformation which will form a strong foundation for future growth and development.
Campus Physical Plant
Change in UALR’s infrastructure is perhaps most notable in its facilities and grounds. The last six years have witnessed the following:
- Purchase of the University Plaza Shopping Center (2004) and the accompanying 900-space parking lot. Much of this shopping center itself has been renovated to house such programs as the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, UALR Public Radio stations KUAR and KLRE, Applied Design, facilities for the Department of Construction Management, the Sequoyah National Research Center, TRIO Programs, and Public Safety. In addition, UALR renovated one of the property’s buildings located near Asher Avenue to create a Welcome Center for the university.
- Construction of additional on-campus student housing. The two residence halls which opened in Fall 2007 doubled the number of beds available. An additional residence hall is currently under construction with the anticipated occupancy date scheduled for Fall 2011.
- Construction of the Jack Stephens Center (2005), home to UALR Athletics and its basketball and volleyball programs.
- Construction of the new building for the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (2010).
- Renovations of Stabler Hall, Department of Chemistry laboratories, the Communications Building, Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall, and the HVAC systems for Ottenheimer Library and the Bowen School of Law.
- Purchases of 15 different properties within the approved acquisition area.
- Demolitions of University Plaza buildings in the flood plain east of Campus Drive. These buildings have been replaced by the Trail of Tears Park (corner of Asher Avenue and Campus Drive on the south, a location actually bordering the Trail of Tears), anticipated to be substantially complete by Spring 2011. Trail of Tears Park is the first of a string of three park-like settings which will eventually stretch from Asher Avenue on the south to 20th Street on the north and which will be collectively known as the Coleman Creek Greenway.
In 2005, UALR unveiled its Campus Master Plan, a document designed to guide the institution toward optimal use and development of campus facilities and grounds in alignment with the institution’s mission and goals.
While statistics have long revealed UALR to be one of the safest campuses in Arkansas, the February 2008 non-fatal shooting of a UALR student and similar incidents at institutions around the country prompted ongoing, campus-wide attention to issues of public safety. Chancellor Anderson appointed the Chancellor’s Special Committee on Campus Safety to assess the institution’s response to the incident, to undertake a broader review of campus policies and practices related to campus safety, and to make recommendations to enhance campus safety based on the information gathered in their assessment.
The committee consisted of the Vice Chair of the UALR Board of Visitors, the Director of Community Health for Baptist Health, the Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Little Rock Field Office, the Little Rock Police Chief, the Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice at UALR, and the Chair of the Department of Speech Communication – a well-qualified group to evaluate and make recommendations regarding campus safety.
The committee’s final report concluded that the University’s response to the shooting was professional and well-managed at all levels. The shooting was recognized as an isolated incident and the campus was deemed to be a safe environment. However, the committee made recommendations to enhance the safety of the campus that included physical changes to the campus, staffing, communication, planning, and an emphasis on the University District. The physical changes, staffing, and communication issues have been implemented and included installation of gates in parking lots 12 and 15 and on the south end of Campus Drive, implementation of an outdoor notification system to warn the campus community about emergency situations, implementation of text-message and telephone alert systems for emergency situations, and addition of Public Safety and Facilities Management personnel. The planning and University District recommendations are in progress.
In Fall 2006, UALR eliminated reserved parking in all gated lots, except those associated with student housing, and implemented a practice of allowing any person with a valid UALR identification card to use the card to access any gated parking lot after 4:00 p.m., an action which has been instrumental in enhancing the safety and convenience of students, faculty, and other patrons engaged in night classes and other evening activities.
UALR has made great strides in developing its technological infrastructure during the UALR Fast Forward years. Among the most significant steps forward has been UALR’s connection to the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (ARE-ON), a network which links Arkansas’s 11 public 4-year universities to a national system which is empowering research faculty through advanced cyber infrastructure and teaching faculty with significant increases in bandwidth. UALR’s linkage with ARE-ON provides a 10Gb connection to Internet2. Two critical infrastructure investments made the ARE-ON connection possible: the campus fiber upgrade, which brought new single-mode fiber to most buildings on campus replacing the 25-year-old multi-mode fiber plant, and the core network equipment refresh, which allowed the campus to achieve 20Gb speeds to most UALR buildings and provided much needed device and link redundancy.
Other technology advances in recent years include the following:
- The upgrade of Banner to version 8.x.
- The design and implementation of an online admissions application.
- Implementation of electronic personnel action forms.
- Development of management information dashboards for student services, financial aid, and human resources.
- Implementation of a campus master calendar.
- The outsourcing of e-mail to Google. Initiation of a project management office.
- Enhancement of the Curriculum Advising and Program Planning (CAPP) process to improve student advising.
- The upgrading of Learning Management System from WebCT to Blackboard 8.
- Creation of an automated new student orientation registration process for newly admitted students.
- Creation of a new process for students to be pre-admitted into majors to enable earlier connections with faculty and peers in students’ chosen fields of study.
- Improvement of the campus datacenter with reorganization of hardware and increased redundancy by installing a generator, new UPS, and failover network.
Public Relations and Marketing
UALR has strengthened its advertising campaign in recent years in order to raise awareness of the educational opportunities and programs it offers. The Choose the Difference campaigns of 2003-2004 focused on reasons for attending UALR, including outstanding faculty, outstanding programs, and financial aid. In 2006, the university increased its attention to television advertising, producing a series of 15-second Ripple Effect advertisements which illustrated the long-range, positive impacts UALR has in the lives of students, citizens, and the economy. In 2007, the university launched the Wow Campaign to highlight academic programs, study abroad opportunities, and campus life activities. Only at UALR – Only in Little Rock is the latest and current campaign and emphasizes the one-of-a-kind opportunities that UALR students can experience because of our location in the state’s capital. Since 2007, the advertising campaigns have created a consistent television presence for UALR, and a strong media relations program has created even more awareness of the institution through increased news coverage.
UALR Alumni Association
The UALR Alumni Association has experienced notable growth in the past five years thanks to renewed emphasis given to the cornerstone of its mission - assisting students. Dedicated to giving students a leg- up and its graduates a foot in the door, the Association works to promote UALR and serve its alumni.
Association membership has doubled (from around 1,200 to over 2,500) from 2005-2010 and aims to reach a goal of 3,000 members by June 30, 2011. Scholarship dollars raised through the Association have increased by over 1000% - from less than $5,000 in 2006 to over $50,000 in 2010. The growth in membership has led to increased attendance at signature events like Taste of New Orleans and new program offerings like Burgers at Bailey hosted at the Bailey Alumni and Friends Center early each fall semester. These opportunities and the newly formed Washington, D.C. Alumni Chapter, the Sun Belt Basketball Tournament Alumni Champagne Brunch, and other travel packages to venues where the University is involved like the 2010 NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City, OK, offer personal and professional networking, advance a culture of giving and support, and wherever possible involve students in our quest to educate them about the importance of lifelong engagement with their alma mater.
The growth of the Alumni Association is a credit to donors, dedicated volunteers and the Alumni Board of Directors who have brought the Alumni Association’s scholarship endowment halfway toward reaching an important $500,000 milestone. Once that goal is reached, the Association will award 26 scholarships to UALR students on an annual basis.
Federal and State Assistance. UALR has realized significant growth in funding for critical initiatives and research from federal and state sources since 2003. In addition to the university’s regular appropriation, UALR has received over $7.5 million from the state for the UALR Nanotechnology Center, and Governor Mike Beebe allocated $5.5 million toward the construction of the EIT building.
At the federal level, UALR has received over $17 million in earmarks since 2003 for UALR research programs and departmental initiatives. Programs across the campus have received critical funding for research around areas of national and state needs including energy, earthquake monitoring, juvenile justice, information quality, cyber security, nursing, small business, and transportation.
Development. A 2005 campaign feasibility study resulted in the recommendations to proceed with a comprehensive campaign and to build the needed infrastructure to staff such a campaign. The consultant firm Benz, Whaley and Flessner recommended a $75 million campaign seeking student, program, faculty, and facility support. The university began immediately to build the necessary infrastructure (planning, software, databases, staff, volunteers, training, research, case statement, priority needs and policies) while simultaneously launching the campaign. UALR reached the campaign goal in 5 1⁄2 of its planned 7-year window. The UALR Office of Development has processed 78,752 gifts and pledges from 16,014 distinct donors.
Campaign giving highlights are numerous and include these 7-figure commitments:
- A special $5 million EIT building commitment from the Donaghey Foundation.
- $6 million from the Trinity Foundation to support the inclusion of mechanical and electrical engineering options in the B.S. in Systems Engineering.
- $2.8 million from KATV supporting UALR Public Radio.
- $3 million from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation supporting nursing scholarships.
- $6.8 million in continuing support from Children International.
- $1 million from Bill and Connie Bowen for an unrestricted endowment for use by the Dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law.
- $1 million from the Sturgis Foundation funding a chair for the Nanotechnology Chief Scientist.
- $1 million from the Schueck Family Foundation endowing the EIT Dean Chair.
- $1.9 million from PepsiAmericas providing unrestricted staff and student support.
In addition, UALR’s Campus Campaign ranks as one of the best such programs in the country with faculty and staff participation at or near 50% annually. UALR also now has a robust planned giving program with $6.5 million in new expectancies, and UALR has just completed its first full year of annual giving activity. Endowed scholarship accounts have grown from 163 to 275 in just 5 years with annual awards approaching $1 million.
In addition, UALR has grown a large and successful portfolio of annual fundraising events including SpectacUALR (athletics), Finale (Arts), Blue Jeans and Birkenstocks (Social Work), the annual Taste Of event (alumni), Jazz and Juleps (Audiology and Speech Pathology), Distinguished Alumni Events (William H. Bowen School of Law and the College of Business), and the James H. Fribourgh Award event (the College of Science and Mathematics). Other recent and successful one-time events include The Gathering (Ottenheimer Library), an Evening with Diane Rehm (UALR Public Radio), and the 10th Anniversary of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology.
In light of the early achievement of its comprehensive campaign goal, UALR, with the advice of UALR’s campaign consultants, Bentz Whaley Flessner, and from the Comprehensive Campaign Steering Committee, has extended its campaign goal to $100 million.