Campus infrastructure hones in on master plan’s potential
By Christen Carter and Kayla Newton, contributing writers
A 2010 report reviewing the progress of the UALR strategic plan found “dramatic changes” in infrastructure since the plan was approved in 2005. Two years later, administrators say further developments are still underway for the campus.
Chancellor Joel Anderson has cited recent advancements since the release of the 2010 report that include the Trojan Grill, the Nanotechnology Center and the Student Services Center, all of which opened this year. He also pointed to renovation projects that have been completed at the Ottenheimer Library, UALR Bowen School of Law and University Plaza.
Anderson said the only planned renovation remaining is to Administration South, which will be used for the Nursing Department.
“I think the progress we have made, relative to the challenges we face, has been remarkable,” Anderson said.
Some other notable improvements, such as the construction of West Hall and renovations to the Fine Arts building, have excited students and faculty members.
“It has increased student activity on campus, as well as perception of the campus in the community,” said Student Government Association President Rizan Mohsin.
Floyd Martin, an art history professor, said he is happy to see new dorms and a new Student Services Building on campus, which he thinks will help to better the campus community. But Martin said that important improvements still need to be addressed.
“So many buildings need more reliable heating and air conditioning,” Martin said. “We have few places for things like student lounges or work places.”
The 2005 plan cites the need for infrastructure sufficient to accommodate up to 20,000 students. There are currently less than 13,000 enrolled students and while Anderson said the property can eventually welcome 20,000 students, he acknowledged that enrollment has been stable for the last few years.
Chancellor Anderson said this is not an official goal, but he has no doubt that UALR will eventually grow to that size.
“As more and more jobs continue to require postsecondary education, I expect enrollment nationwide and at UALR to probably increase slowly,” Anderson said.
David Millay, associate vice chancellor of facilities management, seems enthusiastic at the prospect of a student population of 20,000, but said there are no current plans to increase the number of UALR’s classrooms.
“I would like to think that the quality of the educational system is what attracts students, but certainly the building does not detract,” Millay said. “I think these new buildings are quite a draw, but not just because it looks good on campus, but because it’s actually providing a function.”
Alumni Jason Brown would like to see an increase in student activities on campus.
“When students have access to on-campus activities, they naturally want to spend more time on that campus,” Brown said.
Some think UALR is moving toward a more conventional campus rather than one for commuters.
“We are moving to where we will have more in-house students and resident halls on campus,” Millay said. “We take into consideration what kind of accommodations students find most popular nowadays.”