Board Approves ATU Campus Master Plan

Trustees at Arkansas Tech University approved a campus master plan on Thursday that aligns with the institution’s strategic plan and establishes both short-term priority projects and long-term facility aspirations for all ATU campuses and properties over the next 10-to-20 years.

The action was taken during the ATU Board of Trustees’ regularly scheduled meeting at Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center.

“Priorities are specific to ATU and have been developed based on a knowledge of the campus needs, current and potential enrollment and financial conditions,” wrote Perkins+Will, campus master planning consultants, in the report presented to trustees on Thursday. “The master plan acknowledges that prioritization is not the same as implementation. A priority may still take several years to achieve if the funding required is substantial.”

Priority projects for ATU in Russellville established through the campus master plan include a new entrance to campus, a new student union and recreation center, a new performing arts center, a new academic center for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs and student housing.

On the Ozark campus of Arkansas Tech, priority projects include the construction of a new academic and conference facility and the relocation of the shop area currently located near the Technology and Academic Support Building.

“The master plan is a critical tool that moves from strategic planning to on the ground actions that secure the future success of the institution,” wrote Perkins+Will in the conclusion of its report to trustees. “This collective vision will ‘put the tech back in Tech’ and has gone a long way to aligning all participants under the ‘ATU: One University’ banner of the strategic plan.”

Access additional information about the campus master plan.

Trustees also voted on Thursday to authorize the purchase of a vacant 84-acre tract property in the 1600 block of North Phoenix Avenue in Russellville.

The property, which is adjacent to land owned by ATU, was previously a sod farm. Cost of purchase will be the appraised value of $252,000, $3,000 per acre or another negotiated purchase price that is mutually agreed upon.

In considering applications for the property, trustees discussed that one possible outcome would be to utilize it for the needs of the ATU Department of Agriculture.

In other business on Thursday, the ATU Board of Trustees approved:

*refinancing 13 auxiliary bond issues with expected savings of more than $6 million gross and $3.5 million net present value over the life of the bonds;

*renewal of 2018 employee benefits with a 7.93 percent increase for health insurance premiums through Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 0 percent increases for dental and vision insurance premiums through Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and 0 percent increases for life and disability insurance plans through USAble;

*establishment of provisional positions for the 2017-18 fiscal year for the federally-funded Veterans Upward Bound program;

*a program proposal for a new Master of Education degree in K-12 literacy effective summer 2018;

*a program proposal for a new Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and criminology effective summer 2018;

*reconfiguration of the existing Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree computer engineering option such that the option becomes a stand-alone Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree effective summer 2018;

*and a letter of notification that would allow ATU-Ozark Campus to provide its Associate of Applied Science degree in paramedic/emergency medical services at an off-site location, Fort Smith Emergency Medical Services.

In personnel matters, the ATU Board of Trustees approved hiring the following full-time faculty members for the 2017-18 academic year:

*Dr. Lacie Cupani, visiting instructor of chemistry; Wenyi Li, visiting instructor of mathematics; and Dr. Haiyan Wang, assistant professor of agriculture.

The following staff appointments were approved by the board:

*Corey Adaire, ATU STEM Institute science specialist, effective Aug. 31, 2017; Silas Clark, computer programmer/analyst, effective Sept. 27, 2017; Nathan Craft, Banner systems analyst, effective Nov. 1, 2017; Nikki Earles, counselor in the ATU Health and Wellness Center, effective Sept. 11, 2017; Tracey Hale, project/program specialist in the Office of Financial Aid, effective Oct. 3, 2017; Robin Koontz, advanced practice nurse in the ATU Health and Wellness Center, effective Sept. 5, 2017; and Angela Lasiter, director of corporate and foundation relations, effective Oct. 23, 2017.

Dr. Carl E. Greco, professor of electrical engineering, was appointed interim head of the ATU Department of Electrical Engineering for the 2017-18 academic year.

Kerri Threlkeld was named interim associate director of admissions operations effective Sept. 1, 2017.

Trustees accepted resignations from the following ATU employees:

*Paul Battles, chemistry laboratory/stockroom manager and safety officer, effective Sept. 28, 2017; Emily Billings-Bull, business manager for special programs, effective Nov. 3, 2017; and Vic Dreier, director of the ATU Stem Institute, effective Oct. 13, 2017.

The following ATU employees submitted letters of retirement:

*Dr. Merlin Mann, associate professor of journalism and member of the ATU faculty since 2012, effective May 12, 2018; Dr. Vrege Amirkhanian, associate professor of mathematics and member of the ATU faculty since 1989, effective May 12, 2018; and Dr. Scott Kirkconnell, professor of biology and member of the ATU faculty since 1981, effective Dec. 31, 2017.

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