The official UCA class ring was unveiled March 11, revealing a design that includes the UCA bear and Main Hall.
“This is the epitome of tradition,” President Lu Hardin said.
The Association of Future Alumni gathered a committee of students, faculty and staff and began designing UCA’s first official class ring five years ago.
The ring design was manufactured by Balfour. One side of the ring shows Main Hall, which is the oldest building on campus, and lists the dates of the university’s founding, 1907, and the student’s graduation year.
The other side has the UCA bear symbol and the student’s degree. The ring also has four ginkgo leaves, which represent the four previous names of UCA – Arkansas State Normal School, Arkansas State Teachers College, State College of Arkansas and the University of Central Arkansas.
The top of the ring has the letters “UCA,” and the phrase “University of Central Arkansas” circles the letters.
Students can choose to have a metal or stone top with yellow or white gold and an antique- or natural-gold finish.
The lowest ring price is $430 with a monthly payment plan of $59.17, and the highest price is $860 with a monthly payment plan of $130.83. However, according to the Balfour ring application form, prices are subject to change anytime without notice because of the rising and falling of prices in the gold market.
There is a $14.95 shipping-and-handling fee and local sales taxes are not included in the listed price. There is also a $75 deposit.
Students with more than 60 credit hours of course credit and who are in good academic standing may purchase a ring.
The university also plans to hold a ring ceremony before commencement. Association of Future Alumni President Andreya Reed said this project is still in the works.
“The tradition will be kind of kept secret at the moment, but it will be a fun idea that will be incorporated at every ring ceremony,” Reed said.
The unveiling ceremony in the Student Center Ballroom included refreshments, free T-shirts with the ring design on the back and speeches by Association of Future Alumni adviser Clay Parker, Hardin and Reed.
Parker opened, saying the ring “tells a true story of what UCA is all about.”
Hardin said the committee stepped up and created an important tradition for the university.
“In 100 years, no other group has come forward and said we need this continuity at UCA,” Hardin said. “One hundred years from now, which would be our 200-year [celebration], this ring will be the official ring for the University of Central Arkansas.”
Reed said the ring designs are familiar enough to connect all students.
“It will link all the alumni together and remind graduates that they are a graduate of UCA,” Reed said. “A degree does not fit on your finger. You need something to remind you ‘I am proud of my university.’”
Senior Katie Shannon, who purchased her ring from Balfour after the ceremony, said she is the first in her family to graduate from college, which factored into her decision to buy the ring.
“It’s just something to be proud of to show my family I graduated from UCA,” Shannon said. “I’m the first one on either side [of my family]to graduate and [it will be nice]to show them they can be proud too.”
Balfour offers a limited lifetime warranty that provides free cleaning, polishing and resizing. A ring purchase also includes a ring-loss protection plan.
Parker said for the work students puts into college, they deserve class rings.
“Today, to have something on you to show you’ve worked hard for four to six years is important,” Parker said. “To have something you can show off and take pride in is important.”
Parker said his favorite symbol on the ring is the ginkgo leaves.
“Not many people know that UCA has had four different names … to have that on the UCA ring is a cool story within itself,” Parker said.
Junior Jody Carson said he plans to purchase a ring.
“It’s beautifully designed,” Carson said. “I’ll definitely look into getting one and wearing it proudly.”
Students can order a ring at the UCA Bookstore, by calling 1-866-BALFOUR or ordering it online at balfour.com.