The fall semester enrollment of 12,619 students is the largest in UCA history and solidifies the university’s place as second largest in Arkansas. Associate Vice President for Communications Warwick Sabin said the campus is making several adjustments as a result. “The university has been growing so much in the last five years that we’re letting our infrastructure catch up with our growth,” Sabin said. “There still needs to be improvements on parking and buildings, but we’re working on that.”
Institutional research department Director Melissa Goff said the enrollment numbers include all full-time registered students, regardless of whether they continue going to classes for the entire semester. “Colleges and universities across the nation have a census date,” Goff said. “The census date in Arkansas is the 11th class day, so any student still registered at that time is counted in the census.” According to Goff, specific categories of students such as incoming freshmen, transfers or returning students are not yet available. The university is using a new computer system called Banner and the department is still sorting out different categories within the enrollment figure.
UCA is attempting to meet spatial requirements for all of its students; many building renovations and additions are underway. The university is accepting bids for a $15 million new College of Business Administration building. Construction has not begun, but the building is expected to be finished in late 2009 and will add more classroom and office space. Other building renovations include the Lewis Science Center, Burdick Business Administration Center and Mashburn Hall, which is almost completed. Once the remodeling of Mashburn Hall is finished, it will provide accommodations for UCA’s new department of leadership studies. The university is scheduled to expand the Student Center by next August, Sabin said. The Doyne Health and Science Center will also be expanded with the addition of a center for nursing. In order for this new center to be added, Meadors Hall will have to be demolished. The school has hired architects for the planning of both a new track facility and a gross anatomy lab, although neither project has a date of completion scheduled.
The new Student Health Center has already been completed, and a parking lot behind the Physical Plant opened over the summer, creating 385 new spaces. While the campus is being renovated to meet the needs of the large enrollment, measures have been taken to reduce the number of students admitted to UCA. “We didn’t increase as much as we could have, but we did that on purpose,” Sabin said. One way that officials attempted to curb enrollment this semester was increasing the ACT score required for a full scholarship from 25 to 27. Admission requirements were also increased, which led to the rejection of 350 applicants who would have been admitted under the old requirements. According to UCA Today, once UCA officials feel the need for space has been met, President Lu Hardin will continue to actively recruit students. He estimates next year’s student enrollment to be around 13,000.