The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees formally granted power Friday to the President’s Residence Advisory Committee, an appointed body charged with overseeing changes to the home traditionally occupied by the school’s president.
A group was appointed in 2011, though no formal board action was taken, when negative attention was given to costly changes at the university-owned home during the presidency of Allen Meadors.
Meadors and his wife resided at the home. The president resigned amid controversy after a grant to provide further renovations at the home, contingent upon Aramark food vendor’s contract renewal, was presented at a board meeting as a gift.
The sum of $700,000 was not accepted after the stipulation was disclosed, and Meadors resigned in September.
President Tom Courtway, recently appointed for a three-year term, has made clear his intentions for the living space he will soon occupy with his wife.
He has requested to paint the private quarters on the second floor of the house, and other minor cosmetic changes.
With the new committee in place, any changes at the residence perceived as permanent, such as architectural or structural, including landscaping changes or tree removal, must be approved by the committee before reaching the board.
The resolution adopted Friday states that the purpose of the committee is to review any proposed changes to the home and grounds; to review the costs thereof and the sources and uses of funds to make any such improvements; and to make recommendations as the committee determines are appropriate.
The committee is still an advisory body only, the resolution states.
An exception to the provision is that any cosmetic change to the private quarters may be afforded as the occupant wishes, provided that the work does not exceed $5,000 each year.
The resolution, presented by Courtway and Chairman Bobby Reynolds, did not include the $5,000 cap, but the number was decided upon by the group Friday.
Courtway presented options for the cap as $10,000 or $5,000, saying that he was not partial to either number.
Trustee Brad Lacy, recently appointed, said that he felt uncomfortable with the $10,000 mark. “That’s just per year,” he said.
Courtway asked that the board settle on $5,000, his stated preference, and that the legislative group could amend the policy at a later date.
“What’s been done over there now is all I am going to do,” said Courtway.
The group of nine will be made up of one trustee, a representative from the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association, Alumni Association and UCA Foundation, and three individuals appointed by the group. The three shall not be employed by the university, the policy states.
Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the measure, formally instating the committee to oversee what Trustee Rush Harding called a “tumultuous issue in the not too distant past.”
The board also voted Friday on the second part of a two-part fee increase proposed by the Student Government Association to service debt associated with an expansion of the HPER Center.
Early designs for improvements to the highly used fitness center have included a swimming pool, racquetball courts, a larger gym with a climbing wall, offices, restrooms, locker rooms, a larger lobby, a multi-purpose room and other amenities.
A figure of $13 million and fees has been assigned to the expansion, which is to be ready for use by the fall of 2014.
The increase to students approved Friday puts the fee at $9.12 per hour to generate an estimated $437,400, according to university officials.
The fee, which has been $4, was increased to $7.50 per hour last year, and will rest at $9.12 after the $1.62 increase.
The board also:
— Approved a resolution that would allow the issuance of $15.5 million in auxiliary bonds to finance the HPER expansion.
— Approved degree programs that have been reduced to 120 hours in compliance with state law.
— Approved an official university seal. In the past, the university has used the State of Arkansas’s seal with the institution’s name printed around it. The new seal features the campus building, Old Main.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)