Trustees approve plans to solve housing issues

There should be plenty of housing available for students at the University of Central Arkansas even as enrollment continues to climb. Friday, the board of trustees approved two measures that will provide an additional 400-plus beds for students by the fall of 2005.

The first measure allows the university to purchase the Torreyson Place apartment complex located behind the Oak Tree apartment complex, which is located across the street from campus on Donaghey.

Torreyson Place is currently under construction, but is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month. The property contains two one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments. The units are expected to house 52 students beginning this spring.

UCA President Lu Hardin said the university did a cost comparison between purchasing the apartment complex and building a similar complex and found that it would cost between $5,000 and $7,000 less per bed to purchase Torreyson Place.

The second measure approved by the board allows the university to seek cost estimates for the construction of a new residence hall and to seek approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for the issuance of up to $10 million in bonds to complete the project.

The board gave the university approval for such actions in October 2000, but due to a decline in enrollment the university decided not to move forward. Hardin said that while the university is, technically, still authorized to take actions to construct a new residence hall, the administration wanted to bring it before the board once again in good faith.

The new residence hall would be located on the south side of New Hall, near Mashburn Hall. The residential suites are expected to be similar to the suites in New Hall, and will house approximately 350 students.

Board Chairman Scott Roussel expressed his desire for the suites to be equipped to meet the demands of students in the 21st century. ?I just want to make sure that they?ll be able to service students with laptops and computers that need to hook up to the Internet,? he said.

Hardin assured the board that the new residential hall would be wired appropriately and would likely come with extra features such as a convenience store and outlet for meals. If ADHE approves issuance of the bonds, the new residence hall could be completed by the fall of 2005.

At the recommendation of the UCA Fringe Benefits Committee, the board also approved a proposal for a one-year renewal of the university?s group life insurance and long-term disability insurance contracts with Metropolitan Life Insurance.

The board postponed action on a proposed smoking and tobacco use policy because the student government association is planning to poll the student body concerning the issue.

In other business, Kelley Erstine resigned from the board and the chairman position because he recently accepted an offer to become vice president of development and alumni services at the university.

?Our friendship does not end,? he told fellow board members. ?It?s been a pleasure serving with you and I look forward to serving with the development team. I ask that you help me and be with me as we go on this journey.?

After Erstine announced his resignation, he handed the gavel to Vice Chairman Roussel who became the board?s new chairman.

The board approved a resolution on behalf of the university extending its appreciation to Erstine for his years of service on the board.

The board also approved a resolution on behalf of the university in appreciation to ARAMARK for its outstanding work serving the Coordinating Board of the Department of Higher Education during its meeting on campus.

-Jennifer Boyett