UCA trustees approve one-time bonus for faculty, staff

The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to give faculty and staff a one-time bonus in their September 30 paychecks.

Full-time current faculty who were benefits-eligible on May 15 and full-time current staff who were benefits-eligible on June 30 will receive $1,000. Those working less than full-time will receive a pro rata portion.

The funds will be paid from a $1,689,111 pool of money officials had put aside from $589,111 received in Category B money from the state under the Revenue Stabilization Act and $1,100,000 in savings designated for such at the end of the fiscal year in hopes that such a bonus would be possible. Compensation issues have become an issue in the last several years as faculty and staff raises have been almost nonexistent.

“I believe enrollment has stabilized and the trends we need to see going up are going up,” UCA President Tom Courtway said, pointing out new freshmen enrollment up 10 percent and the university’s reserves “much better and getting better every day.”

The bonuses, which will be subject to normal withholdings, will not be included in employees’ base pay, but Courtway said university officials were committed to doing everything they could to be able to include cost of living adjustments and other pay increases in the future.

According to preliminary numbers — final numbers won’t be available until Monday — overall enrollment is 11,108, down 55 (0.5 percent) from last fall (11,163). First-time undergraduate enrollment, however, is up, from 1,960 to 2,157; and full time equivalent undergraduate enrollment is up from 8,434 to 8,473.1. The decreases have come in graduate, international and high school concurrent enrollment.

The board also voted to spend money from the trustees’ discretionary fund on several recommendations of the President’s Residence Committee, including $13,500 for renovation of the downstairs bathroom to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; $6,500 to create an outside entrance from the study; $3,500 for four panels of living room drapes; and $7,000 in maintenance for a large oak tree in the back yard. Others of the committee’s recommendations will be addressed at a later meeting.

The board also heard President Courtway report that he is involved in talks with Warwick Sabin, publisher of the Oxford American, about UCA’s future involvement with the magazine. Courtway said he expected to have a report for the board within 30 days and said if Chair Reynolds agreed would anticipate a special meeting to decide any ongoing relationship between UCA and the OA.

“In fairness to everyone, we need to wrap this matter up,” Courtway said. “I wish we could’ve done it today.”

In other business, the board voted unanimously to:

• accept the bid of United Healthcare for the university’s health insurance (with no rate increases or changes in coverage) and USAble for life and long-term disability insurance (with a five percent reduction in rates);

• authorize a bond issue of $12.5 million for the purchase of Bear Village Apartments from the UCA Foundation;

• enter into a $294,000 contract through June 30, 2013 with Caradine Companies Architecture for architectural and engineering services for site development of a possible future Greek Village;

• enter into a $99,000 contract through Aug. 16, 2015 with Digital Measures to provide information related to the university’s faculty and staff teaching, research and service activities;

• appoint board member Victor Green, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Dr. Maurice Lee and alumnus Manny Sepulveda to the Diversity Advisory Committee;

• appoint board chair Bobby Reynolds to the university’s Strategic Planning Committee;

• make changes to the makeup of the committees for the Assistance Program for Students with Exceptional Circumstances and the Audit Committee.

Prior to the meeting, the board gathered for a ribbon-cutting for the new amphitheater located near the student center.

“UCA is a school that truly values the students,” said Spencer Sims, president of the Student Government Association. “This spot will be the hub of student life for years to come.”