UCA receives grant from Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council

Architectural RenderingThe University of Central Arkansas has received a $549,537 grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) to be used for updating and renovating McAlister Hall.  

The renovation is expected to begin in January 2023 and is tentatively scheduled to open before fall 2023. 

A collaborative group across multiple disciplines worked on the proposal for more than a year. With the upcoming opening of the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, most of the Department of Art and Design will be moving out of McAlister Hall and the Schichtl Studio Arts Building. The Schedler Honors College will move from McAlister Hall to Schichtl and the interior design program will remain in McAlister Hall.

“Since there were many moving pieces, we found this was a great opportunity to do restorative work to the building,” said Sara Bailey, proposal development specialist in the UCA office of research and sponsored programs, who wrote and submitted the proposal. “So many people came together to form this project. None of this would have been possible without the collaborative effort from people like Jennnifer Whitehead, Danielle Barron, Tony Wire, Dr. [Gayle] Seymour, Randy Stocks, the physical plant and many others.” 

Danielle Barron, director of planning, design, and construction and a former professor of interior design, will be leading the project as the principal investigator. 

“This is an important building with a lot of history. This grant will allow us to make much-needed updates to the building,” Barron said. “When it is complete, it will be a part of the campus that is not only welcoming to the UCA community but also to veterans who use the building and the Conway community.”

The project will involve several aspects, including: 

  • Expanding and restoring the east lobby to its original design.
  • Renovating restrooms and making them compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations.
  • Renovating a storage area to a family-friendly restroom.
  • Renovating the student lounge.
  • Creating a new Nutrition and Family Sciences Community Engagement Center.
  • Reconfiguring the Nutrition and Family Sciences reception suite.
  • Building an accessible ramp at the south entrance.

McAlister Hall is one of eight campus buildings comprising UCA’s Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The other locations are Old Main, Ida Waldran Auditorium, Harrin Hall, Wingo Hall, the President’s House, McCastlain Hall, Bernard Hall and Ferguson Memorial Chapel. 

ANCRC distributed $35.9 million to 20 projects that will restore and protect state-owned lands and property. The Mirror Room inside McAlister Hall was refurbished in 2017 through an ANCRC grant. 

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, who serves as secretary of the ANCRC said, “The ANCRC Trust Fund has funded over $495 million in projects since its first grants were made in 1989. Many important buildings and properties across Arkansas have been saved for future generations by the fund and we are a better state for it.”

ANCRC has funded the restoration and preservation of such iconic properties as the Arkansas State Capitol, Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, Lakeport Plantation in Chicot County and the Johnny Cash Home in Dyess.

The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) was established by Arkansas Act 729 of 1987. Its grants and trust fund are managed for the acquisition, management and stewardship of state-owned lands, or the preservation of state-owned historic sites, buildings, structures or objects that the ANCRC determines to be of value for recreation or conservation purposes. The properties are to be used, preserved and conserved for the benefit of present and future generations.