ATU Granted Authority to Issue Bonds for Project

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The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board (AHECB) authorized Arkansas Tech University to issue bonds to support the construction of a new student union and recreation center facility on its Russellville campus during the AHECB quarterly meeting on Friday, July 29.

ATU earned AHECB approval to issue up to $29.8 million in bonds with a term of 30 years at an annual interest rate of approximately 6 percent. The issuance of bonds will be referred to the ATU Board of Trustees for its consideration during its next scheduled meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18.

A memorandum presented to ATU trustees during their June meeting from Laury Fiorello, ATU vice president for administration and finance, indicated the proposed student union and recreation center construction and ancillary costs, inclusive of bond insurance, are estimated to be between $48.7 million and $49.3 million.

“Funding allocation will be auxiliary student fee 60 percent and educational and general 40 percent,” wrote Fiorello in the memorandum.

Planning for the student union and recreation center was initiated through ATU’s campus master plan process during the 2016-17 academic year.

The ATU Board of Trustees approved the campus master plan in October 2017. Trustees subsequently approved an architect search process for the student union and recreation center in 2018 and, the following year, the board selected Miller Boskus Lack of Fayetteville as the lead architecture firm in the development of plans for a student union and recreation center. Personnel from the Dallas, Texas, location of SmithGroup are also assisting in planning for the facility.

In the three years since, architects have engaged in collaboration, input and feedback from the campus community, including ATU Student Government Association, and applied the information gained through that process to the development of a building design.

An active steering committee comprised of ATU representatives has monitored project details dating back to June 2019 and will continue to do so until the project is complete, which is scheduled for 2025. The student union and recreation center will be constructed on the parcel of land currently occupied by the W.O. Young Building.

“The facility will encompass student-centered activities such as Student Government Association, eSports, basketball courts, food service, convenience store, spirit shop, fitness equipment, walking track and other related functions,” reads a portion of Fiorello’s memorandum presented to the board in June.

Also on Friday, July 29, the AHECB recommended ATU’s request for non-formula entity funding for approval by the 94th Arkansas General Assembly when it convenes in 2023. ATU’s non-formula entity is the Arkansas Tech Institute, which is a non-credit educational and training entity that will utilize career coaching, prior learning assessment, work-based learning opportunities and micro credentials to connect adult learners, underemployed workers and unemployed individuals with career advancement and support economic development in the Arkansas River Valley.