Board Votes for Progress on Campus Projects

ATU Campus Russellville Looking West
File aerial photo of the Arkansas Tech University campus in Russellville.

Arkansas Tech University is on track to experience approximately $60 million in improvements to its Russellville campus as a result of actions taken by the ATU Board of Trustees during its meeting at Chambers Cafeteria West Dining Room on Thursday, June 16.

The largest of the projects considered by the board on Thursday was the issuance of bonds for a new student union and recreation center. Trustees authorized issuance of not more than $29.8 million in bonds for the purpose of financing a portion of the costs of the project.

Following ATU Board of Trustees approval, the issuance of bonds proposal will subsequently go before the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board for its consideration and possible approval.

A memorandum presented to ATU trustees on Thursday 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,” reads a portion of the memorandum from Fiorello.

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 approximately 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 the memorandum presented by Fiorello on Thursday.

ATU trustees also acted on more than $4 million in roof renovation projects during the meeting.

Ketcher and Company Inc. of North Little Rock was awarded a $1,590,750 contract to replace the roof at McEver Hall.

Cromwell Architects Engineers was selected as the architecture firm for a forthcoming replacement of the Tucker Coliseum roof, while SCM Architects of Little Rock and Fayetteville was named the architecture firm for an upcoming replacement of the Doc Bryan Student Services Center roof.

In other actions related to facility renovations, the board committed $1,314,230 for summer 2022 residence hall improvement projects and $940,000 for summer renovations to facilities funded through educational and general funds.

The residence hall improvements will include: replacement of the cooling tower and chiller as well as interior painting at Turner Hall; new flooring, paint and lighting in University Commons; replacement and repair of doors and windows at Caraway Hall; interior painting at Brown Hall and M Street Hall; new lobby furniture and window tinting in Paine Hall; center stairwell door replacement at Tucker Hall; and outdoor enhancements such as new furniture, landscaping and equipment.

The approved renovations to educational and general facilities will include: carpet and tile replacement as well as interior painting at Rothwell Hall; refurbishment of the cooler and chiller at Norman Hall; porch and column painting at Crabaugh Hall, Tomlinson Hall and the Administration Building; maintenance of the chillers at Doc Bryan Student Services Center and Rothwell Hall; refrigerant work at Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center; drywall and floor repair as well as technology improvements in Chambers Cafeteria West Dining Room; parking lot replacement and repair in lots L, Q and G; and upgrades to various chiller sensors and controls in additional buildings.

The board also approved a request to commit an additional $550,000 to the new campus entrance project, bringing ATU’s total commitment to that project to $2.55 million.

Trustees previously approved Crafton Tull as ATU’s architect for the project in December 2018 and authorized up to $2 million in funding for the project from educational and general reserves in May 2019.

“Progress of the design phase is on target to launch actual construction and project activity slated to begin spring of 2023,” read a portion of a memorandum from Fiorello concerning the campus entrance project that was presented to trustees on Thursday.

Trustees also addressed a need for improved wireless internet access at ATU by approving an investment of $2,678,218 in a multi-year project to support technology for instruction and students.

In other business during their final meeting of the 2021-22 fiscal year, members of the ATU Board of Trustees approved:

*a 2 percent cost of living adjustment pay increase for ATU faculty and staff (classified and non-classified) for the 2022-23 fiscal year;

*adoption of the 2022-23 fiscal year ATU budget;

*a new strategic plan that establishes institutional goals through 2025;

*2022-23 student housing rates, which remain the same as rates for the 2021-22 fiscal year for the general student population and include a 25 percent reduction in housing rates for student staff employed by the ATU Department of Residence Life;

*a request from the ATU hospitality administration program to apply for a private club permit from the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control board and regain capacity that was lost when a previous permit lapsed due to inactivity following the April 2019 fire at Williamson Hall;

*general methods of finance to support educational and general as well as auxiliary construction and renovation projects during the 2022-23 fiscal year;

*establishment of a non-classified provisional position to assist the ATU Office of Information Systems in the installation phase of new technology purchased with federal COVID-19 relief funds;

*a request by ATU-Ozark Campus to establish two provisional positions — lead career coach and industry training specialist — for the career coach pilot project funded by the State of Arkansas Ready for Life initiative;

*certification of the ATU athletic operating budget for fiscal year 2022-23 per Arkansas Division of Higher Education guidelines;

*a request to suspend the assessment of the higher premium tier for health insurance coverage for identified covered individuals for the rest of the premium assessment period ending Nov. 30, 2022, to account for ATU employees who would be involuntarily shifted to a higher tier due to the cost of living adjustment for fiscal year 2022-23;

*2022-2023 proposed fees and fines associated with ATU Division of Student Affairs operating areas (residence life, testing center, disability services, student conduct, public safety, campus life, international student services and health and wellness);

*2022-23 parking regulations for the ATU campus in Russellville;

*and the establishment of Aug. 18, 2022, Oct. 20, 2022, Dec. 15, 2022, Jan. 19, 2023, March 16, 2023, June 15, 2023 and Aug. 17, 2023, as the dates for upcoming meetings of the ATU Board of Trustees.

In personnel matters, five individuals who have served interim leadership appointments were confirmed by the ATU Board of Trustees to continue those responsibilities on a permanent basis:

*Abby Davis, director of athletics, effective July 1, 2022; Dr. Emily Hoffman, head of Department of English and World Languages, effective April 1, 2022; Caroline Kitchens, director of alumni relations, effective March 1, 2022; Dr. Aaron McArthur, head of Department of History and Political Science, effective April 1, 2022; and Dr. Hamed Shojaei, head of Department of Physical Science, effective April 1, 2022.

The board also confirmed Hayden Darr’s transition from coordinator of student recruitment at ATU-Ozark Campus to academic counselor at Arkansas Tech Career Center effective June 1, 2022.

ATU trustees approved hiring the following full-time employees:

*Natasha Branch, testing service coordinator, effective May 5, 2022; and Stephen Weinmann, area coordinator for residence life, effective Oct. 4, 2021.

The board accepted resignations from the following ATU employees:

*Kaitlynn Beaird, coordinator for graduate and international recruitment, effective Nov. 19, 2021; Dr. Blake Bedsole, associate vice president for enrollment management and student success, effective June 30, 2022; Dr. Naquindra Brooks, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion and contemporary student services, effective June 10, 2022; Luke Calcatera, head men’s and women’s golf coach, effective June 30, 2022; LaQuetta Garlington-Seals, academic counselor at Arkansas Tech Career Center, effective May 2, 2022; Ashley Golleher, director of government relations, effective May 13, 2022; Blake Huber, assistant women’s basketball coach, effective June 14, 2022; Amanda Johnson, assistant dean for career services, effective March 18, 2022; Kassidy Jones, coordinator of civic and community engagement and student leadership development, effective June 2, 2022; Rachel Lee, coordinator of disability services, effective April 8, 2022; Parker Odom, web operations specialist, effective April 22, 2022; Dr. Carrie Phillips, director of marketing and communications, effective April 15, 2022; Sandra Shigley, workforce education faculty of health science technology at Arkansas Tech Career Center, effective May 13, 2022; Tera Simpson, webmaster and digital specialist, effective June 2, 2022; Courtney Smith, coordinator for graduate and international recruitment, effective May 17, 2022; Christina Stolarz, director of human resources, effective May 6, 2022; Dr. Xiaolei Tang, assistant professor of rehabilitation science, effective May 6, 2022; and KaShema Washington, coordinator of testing services, effective May 6, 2022.