It?s official. Faculty and non-classified staff will see an increase in their paychecks at the end of the month ? a 3 percent increase, that is.
The UCA Board of Trustees approved the salary increase at its meeting on Friday. In July, classified staff received an across-the-board salary increase of 2.7 percent from the Arkansas General Assembly.
An increase in tuition dollars as a result of an extra 1,000 students enrolled at the university this fall, in addition to stabilized state tax revenues, allowed for the salary increases.
President Lu Hardin also received a salary increase. The board agreed to raise Hardin?s annual salary to $195,700. Board Chairman Rush Harding III said, ?I would just like to publicly congratulate President Hardin on a great first year.?
UCA employees who want to put more of their salary into their retirement plan now may do so. The board approved a retirement plan option that essentially doubles the amount an employee may voluntarily contribute to a retirement plan on a pre-tax basis. The plan will be offered in addition to the primary retirement plans currently available.
Hardin said only about one out of three contribute to a Supplemental Retirement Account. ?But some of them want to save more and this gives them the option to divert more money,? he said.
In other business:
- The board approved an adjustment to the fee structure for the Health, Physical Education, Recreation Center and Farris Center Pool.
At the May 2003 board meeting, trustees approved increasing the per-credit-hour fee to a 13-hour cap. This raised the fee for full-time students to $52 per semester. The fee restructure did not include a fee increase for the spouse and family of UCA employees.
The new adjustment raised the fee for spouses to $52 per semester, and created a summer fee of $36 for spouses. It increased the family fee to $78 per semester, and created a summer fee of $54 for families. Also it increased the single parent family fee to $26 per semester and created a summer fee of $18 for single parent families.
- The board approved a proposal to expand the HPER Center by about 10,000 square feet. The addition would provide a group-exercise studio area, an area that can be designated as an additional basketball court and more flexibility for future design and expansion.
The $650,000 addition will be funded with revenues from HPER Center fees and repaid to the university over the course of six years.
- Trustees approved a plan to renovate and expand Christian Cafeteria during the spring and summer terms. The cafeteria currently seats about 650 students. The expansion would allow a seating area for about 1,000.
The renovation of the cafeteria will take place on the inside and outside. The inside renovation will provide for several serving points throughout the cafeteria. This is expected to help ease the long lines at mealtimes.
The expansion and renovation project is expected to cost between $3.5 million and $4.2 million. ARAMARK will provide $3.5 million for the project. The remainder of the cost will be funded through housing and food-service revenues.
ARAMARK has notified the university that food service rates for 2004-2005 would increase by about 10 percent to cover ARAMARK?s investment in the project and increases in normal operating costs. The proposed rate change will be presented to the board at the February board meeting.
- The board authorized the university to obtain financing for $3.65 million for the purchase of Mansard Apartments and for improvements to the property. The total purchase price of the apartment complex is $3.5 million.
The board also authorized the administration to obtain an additional $200,000 to finance the construction of a parking structure on the undeveloped property in front of the apartments, which are located on Bruce Street.
The board also approved the administration?s proposal to rename the complex ?Stadium Park.?
- Trustees approved a new Bachelor of Science program in addition studies. Hardin said, ?We are very excited about being a leader in addiction studies. Very few colleges and universities have programs in prevention and treatment of addictive substances. We will be one of few.?
While there are a few other programs in the country, there are no other baccalaureate programs in addiction studies in the state. The board was told that there is a strong demand for prevention specialists and treatment counselors. Administrators at substance abuse centers in Arkansas have estimated a minimum of two to three counselors from each facility would enroll in UCA?s new program.
Hardin was also careful to point out that there would not be a treatment center located on campus, and the program would be created with minimal costs.
- Trustees approved a proposal to dissolve the University Council. The council was established in 1997 on a trial basis and was made permanent in 1998. The purpose of the council was to provide a forum for discussion of issues that affect the entire campus.
Members of the council debated its current value to the university and then voted to recommend that the council be dissolved. Hardin said he was proud that the members of the council admitted that it had become an unnecessary bureaucracy.
- The board approved a transfer of bookstore net revenues of $334,150 from 2001-2003 to the Board of Trustees Endowment Fund.
- The board also approved a transfer of $15,000 from the endowment fund to the Student Government Association to assist them with equipping the new Registered Student Organization Resource Center.
SGA President Ortavius Wright said establishing such a center for RSOs was one of SGA?s top priorities for the year.
- The board approved a recommended new option for the declining balance plan for students.
Beginning in the spring, students living in university-owned or ?leased apartments will have the option of a $500 declining balance. The SGA recommended the change after receiving complaints from students who said the $800 declining balance was too much.
- The board elected officers for 2004. Kelley Erstine was elected chairman of the board; Scott Roussel was elected vice chair; and Dr. Mike Stanton was elected secretary.
Former Board Chairman Randy Sims told Chairman Harding that he had done ?an excellent job during a year of transition.?