University of Central Arkansas

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University of Central Arkansas
UCA seal (adopted 2012)
Motto Front and Center
Established 1907, as Arkansas State Normal School
Type Public University
Endowment $45.3 million (2011)[1]
President Tom Courtway
Students 11,698 (Fall 2014)[2]
Undergraduates 9,842 (Fall 2014)[2]
Postgraduates 1,856 (Fall 2011)[2]
Location Conway, Arkansas, U.S.
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Campus Suburban
Colors Purple & Gray
Athletics NCAA Division ISouthland Conference
Nickname Bears & Sugar Bears
UCA Logo

The University of Central Arkansas is a state-run institution located in the city of Conway, the seat of Faulkner County, north of Little Rock and is the fourth largest university by enrollment in the U.S. state of Arkansas, and the third largest college system in the state. The school is most respected for its programs in Education, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. It is also the home of the UCA Honors College as well as four Residential Colleges.

History and mission

Harding Plaza in front of Irby Hall.

The Arkansas State Legislature created the Arkansas State Normal School, now known as the University of Central Arkansas, in 1907 by passage of Act 317 on May 14. The purpose of The Arkansas State Normal School was to properly train students to become professional teachers and centralize teacher training. Classes began September 21, 1908 with nine academic departments, one building on 80 acres (320,000 m2), 107 students and seven faculty members. Two faculty members taught in two departments and President Doyne taught pedagogy and Latin.

In 1925, Arkansas State Normal School became Arkansas State Teachers College. The name change more accurately reflected the primary focus of instruction and mission of the institution.

Flowers looking towards the south, central part of campus.

By 1967, the mission of Arkansas State Teachers College had changed. Though teacher training was still an important part of the school's mission, other fields began to expand in liberal arts studies and in the emerging field of health care. To recognize the institution's existing academic diversity another name change was in order. In January 1967, Arkansas State Teachers College became the State College of Arkansas.

President Silas Snow, who championed the name change in 1967, organized State College of Arkansas along university lines in preparation for still yet another name change. State College of Arkansas grew rapidly and offered an ever-widening range of degree programs. By January 1975, Snow’s efforts were realized as the State Department of Higher Education recommended State College of Arkansas be known as The University of Central Arkansas, or UCA.


As of fall 2014, UCA has an enrollment of 11,698 students. Enrollment for 2013 was 11,534 and fall 2012 was 11,107.[3] Retention for full-time, first-time undergraduates increased from 69.9 percent from fall 2013 to 72.4 percent from fall 2014. Graduate student enrollment is 1,867, while last year the number was 1,856 and the number of transfer students increased to 775 compared to 618 last year.[4]


Main Hall, the oldest building on campus.

UCA Colors – The colors for UCA were decided the first year and according to an article in the November 24, 1908 edition of the Log Cabin Democrat, were said to be purple and silver. President Doyne assigned the task of developing school colors to W.O. Wilson and Ida Waldran in 1908. Wilson was wearing a gray sweater and Waldran was wearing a purple scarf. They chose the colors based upon the color of the clothing they were wearing that day. Both Wilson and Waldran thought that purple and gray complemented each other. Today the official colors for all UCA sports teams are purple and gray.

UCA Mascot – It wasn't until 1920 that the UCA athletic teams had a mascot. According to Dr. Ted Worley, author of A History of The Arkansas State Teachers College, the UCA teams from 1908 to 1919 were referred to by many names, including: Tutors, Teachers, Pedagogues, Pea-Pickers, and Normalites. In 1920 the Bears became the mascot for the teams. However, it wasn’t until April 7, 1921, that the teams were called the "Bears" in print. Dr. Worley also quoted sources as saying the Bear was an appropriate symbol for the school because Arkansas’ nickname was the "Bear State". The women's teams were known as the Bearettes for several years. The name of Sugar Bear came later. Victor E. Bear came about in 1999 and Victoria E. Bear came soon after. Bruce D. Bear became the newest addition to the UCA family in 2006

Main Hall – is the oldest building on campus. This building was completed in 1919 and was built by George Donaghey, the man for whom Donaghey Avenue is named and a former governor of the State of Arkansas. After the building was built it served a dual role as the administration building and as a classroom building. It continued to serve as the administration building until the 1960s. On February 11, 2011, the building was named on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]

World War II Marker – UCA's World War II Memorial was dedicated in October 2003. The memorial contains the names and branch of service of forty-six UCA alumni who were killed during World War II. The memorial is a permanent reminder of those UCA alumni who gave their lives fighting for their country.

Senior Legacy Walk Brick Campaign – The Senior Walk is located in the courtyard in front of the Student Center. Each year, graduates will have the opportunity to purchase bricks as part of their class year. For $100, graduates can purchase a brick that will be inscribed with his/her name or the name of a graduate that a purchaser wants to honor.

UCA presidents

Torreyson Library, named after Burr Walter Torreyson.
  • John James Doyne (1908–1917)
  • Burr Walter Torreyson (1917–1930)
  • Heber L. McAlister (1930–1941)
  • Nolen M. Irby (1941–1953)
  • Silas D. Snow (1953–1975)
  • Jefferson D. Farris (1975–1986)
  • Winfred L. Thompson (1988–2001)
  • Lu Hardin (2002–2008)
  • Allen Meadors (2009–2011)
  • Tom Courtway (2011– ) [6][7]

After President Thompson resigned the presidency he was replaced on an interim basis on December 21, 2001 by Dr. John Smith, vice-president of financial services. Smith served in this capacity until September 22, 2002. Hardin took the reins at UCA on September 23, 2002. He has a Bachelor of Arts with high honors from Arkansas Tech University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas Law School. Hardin served as an Arkansas State Senator for 14 years and was chairman of the Senate Education Committee and also served on the Joint Budget Committee and Legislative Council. He chaired the Arkansas Advisory Council for Vocational Education and served 12 years as a Professor of Legal Studies at Arkansas Tech University. In addition, he was a trial attorney for 10 years. Prior to becoming UCA’s eighth president, Hardin was Director of the Department of Higher Education for six years.[8] President Lu Hardin announced his resignation at the August 28, 2008 Board of Trustees meeting, following controversy over a $300,000 bonus that had been voted him by the board.[9] He would later plead guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges.[10] Tom Courtway, UCA Vice President and General Counsel, was then named Interim President.

On June 19, 2009, Dr. Allen Meadors was presented as the new president to the Board of Trustees. The event took place in Wingo Hall. Dr. Meadors was a UCA Alumnus who received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Thomas Courtway was appointed the 10th President of UCA in 2012.


Snow Fine Arts Center

The University has 6 distinct colleges offering over 80 majors.[11] These colleges are: The College of Business, the College of Education, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The university is famous for its innovative Honors College, which has received national recognition for its excellence. Small classes, distinguished faculty, TAG and URGE grants for students, high ACT and SAT scores, and outstanding medical and graduate school admission rates are hallmarks of the College. The Carnegie Foundation said the UCA Honors College was "One of the most widely imitated programs in the country," and former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrell Bell described the Honors College as being "An Ivy League education at a bargain basement price."[12]

In 2006, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCA 61st in the South in academic excellence. This marks the first year that UCA has been ranked. UCA was the only public Arkansas university in that category.[13]

In the 2009 Edition of U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges, UCA was ranked 54th in Master's Universities South.[14] UCA was also ranked 23rd in the Top Public Schools in Master's Universities South.[15]

In January 2010, UCA mass communication students launched The Fountain (now The Fountain Magazine),[16] a daily source of news and information. The student-created website is named "The Fountain," after the historic landmark located at the university's campus. The Fountain merged with The Echo,[17] UCA's oldest student media outlet, in January 2014 to combine print and online resources. The Fountain Magazine was created following the merger.


The University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas, comprises six colleges. In addition to the programs offered at the colleges, it has a study abroad program. Students may, for example, study Literature in Italy and UK, healthcare in China or Sociology in Africa. Credits earned at several foreign universities may be credited towards a degree at UCA. UCA is also recognized as distinct by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education for being one of the nation's 20 Asian Studies Development Program's Regional Centers for Asian Studies, a joint program of the federally funded East West Center and University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The courtyard outside of Irby Hall.

College of Fine Arts and Communication The College of Fine Arts and Communication offers five fields of study for a degree. Available disciplines include music, public relations, communications, art and writing. Many of the college's degrees enable graduates to work or teach in their chosen profession. The college offers both bachelor and graduate programs.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics This college offers eight fields of study in physical and natural sciences as well as six pre-professional programs. Undergraduate programs include those in biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, general science, mathematics, physics, and secondary science education. Pre-professional programs include pre-dentistry, pre-optometry, pre-medicine, pre-engineering, pre-pharmacy, and pre-veterinary science. The college offers both bachelor's and master's degrees.[18]

College of Business Business students attending the University of Central Arkansas can pursue an associate, graduate, bachelor or MBA degree through this college. Major fields of study include accounting, economics, finance, information systems, management, and marketing.

College of Health and Behavioral Sciences This college offers bachelor and graduate degrees in health, education, psychology, counseling, military science, nursing, therapy and speech pathology. ROTC students at the University of Central Arkansas attend this college for training as a commissioned officer. Courses are also available in fitness and exercise.

College of Liberal Arts There are six fields of study available at the College of Liberal Arts. The college offers graduate and bachelor's degrees. Available fields of study include English, religious studies and philosophy, world languages, political science, sociology, and history. The College also supports the inter-disciplinary Asian studies, gender studies, Latin American studies, and Southern and Arkansas studies minor programs.[19]

College of Education The College of Education offers University of Central Arkansas students Ph.D., bachelor's and master's degrees programs. These programs provide the skills required to work in teaching, educational administration and curriculum development.

Residential colleges

The Student Center went through a major remodeling in the summer of 2008.

There are currently four residential colleges at UCA, Hughes Residential College (1997), E.D.G.E Residential College at State Hall (1999), STARS Residential College at Short-Denney Hall (2006), and S.T.E.M. Residential College at Arkansas Hall (2010). E.P.I.C. Residential College 4th floor Bear Hall (2012).

The courtyard outside of the Student Center.

Drama and theater arts

The University of Central Arkansas is Arkansas's premiere dramatic school. The program promotes active student involvement in all areas of production including acting, stage management, scenery, costumes, lights, sound, props, and management. The theater program participates annually in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and has walked away with numerous awards. UCA also holds the annual Arkansas High School Audition Day which is a chance for any High School senior interested in majoring in theater to audition before most of the theater programs in the state of Arkansas. Also, UCA Theatre is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre. This accreditation assures students and parents that the UCA Theatre program meets professional standards of quality in theater education and training as set forth by the Association.[20]

UCA Public Appearances

UCA Public Appearances is a division of the University's College of Fine Arts & Communication. Its primary responsibilities are to manage the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall—a 1,200-seat, state-of-the-art theater—and to develop and present performing arts programming in the hall.

The Reynolds Performance Hall opened on September 15, 2000, with a sold-out concert by the late Ray Charles. Since then, the theater has hosted numerous celebrities, including Loretta Lynn, Rhonda Vincent, Seth Meyers, Gavin DeGraw, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, Ronan Tynan, The Golden Dragon Acrobats, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, local composer David William Allison, and many national and international touring companies.

A four-person full-time staff, two part-time staff, and numerous student workers are employed by Public Appearances.

UCA Public Appearances manages UCA Ticket Central, which provides ticketing services for all non-athletic ticketed events on the campus. UCA Ticket Central serves Public Appearances, UCA Theatre, the Conway Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Student Activities events, and events sponsored by organizations within and outside the University.

UCA Public Appearances is supported by State funds, funds generated by the UCA Performing Arts fees, grants, ticket sales, and donations.[21]


The university's athletic teams are known as the Bears for men's teams and Sugar Bears for women's teams. Central Arkansas participates in NCAA at the Division I (Football Championship Subdivision football) level as a member of the Southland Conference. The university fields 17 varsity sports involving over 400 student-athletes. The athletic program includes seven men's sports: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, and track and field; and eight women's sports: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.[22]

Greek life

Approximately 10% of UCA's students are members of one of the 25 Greek organizations hosted by the campus. Greek life was established in 1915.

List of Greek Organizations at UCA


Panhellenic Conference

National Pan-Hellenic Council

Independent Greek Council

National Interfraternity Music Council

Registered student organizations

The University is home to more than 200 registered student organizations, with more forming every year.

Notable other RSO's include The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P), Young Democrats, College Libertarians, College Republicans, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honors Society, Student Council for Exceptional Children, PRISM, Business and Information Technology (BIT), Computer Science Club, Model UN, Campus Dialogue, Pre-Med Society, Pre-Pharmacy Club, The Society of Physics Students (SPS at UCA), RUSH Collegiate Ministries, and a myriad of other religious organizations.

Also, there are minority-focused organizations such as Griot Society, Minority Mentorship, Students for the Propagation of Black Culture (SPBC), S.U.A.A.W., Black Men United (BMU)

Student Government Association

The Student Government Association, SGA, represents the student body at all times and in all circumstances, in areas such as: allocating and administrating student activity funds; advising the administration in regard to student-related policies; cooperating with faculty in determining student obligations and honors; considering all student petitions to SGA; planning and supervising all SGA elections; and approving charters or cancellations of RSOs.

The SGA was created to represent student interests on campus and push for initiatives that are beneficial for the student body. They are there to make sure that students are the number one priority in every decision made at UCA. The Slogan of SGA is: Students First!

The SGA is composed of total of forty senators divided into: "The Executive Board" consisting of an Executive President, Executive Vice-President, Vice-President of Operations, Vice-President of Finance. SGA representation from each class shall be as follows: President, Vice-President, Five (5) Representatives. Additional Members: Five (5) Senators at Large, Three (3) Graduate Senators.

Notable alumni

2008 campus shooting

On Sunday, October 26, 2008, a shooting took place on the UCA campus shortly after 9:00pm CDT, outside of the Arkansas Hall dormitory. Two students – Ryan Henderson, 18, and Chavares Block, 19 – were fatally shot. A third person, 19-year-old Martrevis Norman, a non-student visiting the campus, was shot in the leg and was treated at the nearby Conway Regional Medical Center.[39]

Four suspects were charged in the shooting: Kawin Brockton, 19, Kelsey Perry, 19, Mario Tony, 20, and Brandon Wade, 20.[40]


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External links