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UCA eyes new Science Complex

Posted: December 11, 2012 - 9:10pm
Officials at the University of Central Arkansas mull building a new science complex and release a report to Board of Trustees. (Photo from Report)
Officials at the University of Central Arkansas mull building a new science complex and release a report to Board of Trustees. (Photo from Report)

Students at the University of Central Arkansas could have a new science building — one without standing water in the basement when it rains — by 2016, if the Board of Trustees decides to move forward.

Trustees reviewed new documents Friday that showcase plans for a state-of-the-art science building worth about $70 million. If nothing changes in UCA’s finances, tuition would have to go up 3.3 percent in fiscal 2015 and another 3.8 percent in fiscal 2016.

A nominal tuition increase is proposed in fiscal 2017.

The total impact is expected to be $434 total per student over a four year perior ending fiscal 2017, said Diane Newton, vice president for finance and administration.

“This would probably be the biggest project in the history of the university, but it’s also desperately needed,” Chairman Bobby Reynolds said Friday.

The proposed 93,370-square-foot building would include 70 faculty offices, 12 graduate student offices, 31,200 square feet of teaching labs and prep rooms, 10,200 square feet for specimen storage and 43 faculty-student research spaces. The proposed building would house biology, computer science, physics and astronomy and science education programs like the new UCA STEMteach program. The old Lewis building would remain operational and be “flex” space, said Interim Provost Steve Runge.

The new facility would house Computer Science Department, which is in the Mathematics, Computer Science, Technology Building, according to the report. The idea is to locate laboratory sciences and Computer Sciences together because the two are linked because scientists often use computers in research, according to the report.

The report on the proposed project is an “exercise,” President Tom Courtway said.

It also shows the worst-case scenario for UCA: flat enrollment, no additional state funding, high construction costs and no private donations, said Courtway and Newton.

Trustees did not vote Friday whether to proceed.

Officials said a science building is needed at UCA to better educate students in high-demand areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — areas where jobs are expected to grow. A new facility will also provide much-needed lab space. Lewis is currently booked all day with 10 minutes to clean up between sessions, said Stephen Addison, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Runge said the environmental science program doesn’t have a dedicated laboratory even though about 100 undergraduates are taking classes.

“Science buildings are important for education,” Addison said. “We need to be able to train our students in state-of-the art facilities with state-of-the-art technologies.”

Addison said Tuesday the old Lewis Science Center is out dated and cramped. He took trustees on a tour of the 1965 building in August and pointed out problems with the facility.

“The current Lewis Science Center cannot support the state-of-the-art science programs that are necessary if UCA is to fulfill its mission and aid the state in increasing its economic competitiveness in the emerging technology-based global economy,” according to a report passed out to trustees Friday.

Problems at Lewis include inefficiency, a failing heating and cooling plant and outmoded classrooms and laboratories.

Addison said the 1960s construction of Lewis is difficult to upgrade and expensive to renovate. With its 1987 addition, Lewis has a total of 119,747 square feet, but all of that space is crowded. For example, in the classroom where the new UTeach program began this fall, boxes are stacked on shelves to the ceiling. In one laboratory, complete with decades-old equipment, the instructor must stand on the sink to get a view of his students.

Officials hope the new science center will mean more students looking to come to UCA.

Every undergraduate student who comes to UCA must take two science courses, which are held in Lewis. This past fall, 2,157 full-time freshmen enrolled at UCA.

“(The science complex) will affect every student who comes to UCA as an undergraduate,” Addison said.

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daviskr
1687
Points
daviskr 12/12/12 - 10:38 am
2
0
if I'm thinking of this location correctly

would this be catty corner from Papa Johns?

DJB1971
15050
Points
DJB1971 12/12/12 - 10:49 am
4
0
That's the way I see it...

...which would mean that UCA would be wiping out a good deal of the parking available in that area. :-(

em429
829
Points
em429 12/12/12 - 10:59 am
4
0
That parking lot

was not a surprise to be the next one taken out. With the exception of parking around the few spots on south end of campus, the baseball field and Farris center, majority of off campus students pretty much will now have to go somewhere north of the hospital to find parking, since the hospital employees, patients, families are overflowing also.

MessiahAndrw
1335
Points
MessiahAndrw 12/12/12 - 04:05 pm
1
1
There is too much parking

There is too much parking anyway, but not without reason.

My university had 25,000 students, no on-campus accommodation, and only a handful of parking spots (less than 100).

To ration the parking, you had to purchase an expensive permit:
http://parking.adelaide.edu.au/policy/3-types.php

- $1565.00/year for a normal parking spot you can use at any time of the day.
- $202.15/year for an parking spot that you can only use after hours.
- Or $32.50 for a temporary 2 week permit.

My university was also well serviced by buses and trains that could handle 25,000 students flowing in and out every day.

Conway needs an improvement in that area (an investment in reliable transportation infrastructure) if UCA would like to eliminate it's parking.

Yes, UCA does have shuttle buses. I've seen them come by a block of apartments near where I live every morning. But would a couple of buses have the capacity to handle all of UCA's 14,000 students? No. (Granted many live on campus so the number of them living externally would be much smaller.)

Even if they lived in an area serviced by UCA's shuttle buses, I doubt many would opt to live carless. It may work for the occasional morning when your car breaks down and you have to rush to class, but to live carless in Conway would mean you're stranded at home - you can't go out to unwind (shop, dine, cinema etc) without a car.

NoKidding
2460
Points
NoKidding 12/12/12 - 07:29 pm
3
0
Parking

It's a shame that the, "City of Colleges", with 2.1 institutions of higher education and businesses that could benefit from safe transportation for their students, can't get it's act together for a good bus system. I've seen it done in lesser college towns.

BearFan4
1960
Points
BearFan4 12/12/12 - 12:58 pm
3
1
Time for more students to

Time for more students to invest in a bike. Park over by the track and ride over. You can find a decent bike for less than $100 and it burns calories. Or park across from Dave Ward and take the shuttle. People need to learn to depend on their cars a little less nowadays for many reasons.

daviskr
1687
Points
daviskr 12/12/12 - 01:26 pm
5
0
as long as

UCA has plenty of bike parking available. I would not be willing to leave a $100 bike just parked on the sidewalk without locking to something.

BearFan4
1960
Points
BearFan4 12/12/12 - 03:08 pm
4
0
I learned after personal

I learned after personal experience even if you forget to lock up your bike and someone steals it, they may be stupid enough to leave it parked unlocked near the building they stole it from so you can take it right back. I know everyone doesn't get that lucky but it sure made me feel better that thieves can be idiots.

lachowsj
5463
Points
lachowsj 12/12/12 - 02:31 pm
5
0
Biking

There was a picture of me on my bike in the Echo student newspaper in 1972 or so with the caption something like, "Students finding new ways to commute." Guess I was a little ahead of my time.

sevenof400
7003
Points
sevenof400 12/12/12 - 01:39 pm
2
0
Why should the students have to bear the cost of this building?

When will UCA quit attempting to siphon cash from the pockets of students?

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