The new College of Health & Behavioral Sciences building at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway couldn’t come at a better time, school officials say.
The 80,000-square-foot facility, expected to be complete next fall, will house the School of Nursing, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the Nabholz Center for Healthcare Simulation and an Interprofessional Teaching Center (ITC). UCA President Dr. Houston Davis said the new facility will expand by roughly four times the college’s current square footage at a time when health care professionals are needed more than ever.
Currently, UCA reports that all its nursing graduates find jobs within six months of graduation, and other departments within the college see similar placement rates.
“This facility will allow us to expand the capacity of many of our health care programs, most of which have waiting lists,” Davis said. “With more than 90 percent of our health care graduates remaining in the state of Arkansas, this is good news for Arkansans.
“The new Integrated Health Sciences Building is a game-changer, not just for UCA but for the citizens of the state of Arkansas. Our health care graduates are not only vital to the health and well-being of the individual, they are vital to the health and well-being of our communities and our state.”
The UCA College of Health & Behavioral Sciences has more than 1,200 affiliations and contracts with health care entities across Arkansas, and its students participate in approximately 420,000 internship and practicum hours annually. The new building will expand its capacity from 150 to 250 students.
The ITC, which will span the entire first floor of the building, will include multiple clinics including a speech-hearing clinic. It will simulate modern health care settings allowing for clinical experiences that require collaboration with all majors in the college. Also planned are spaces for counseling and psychology students to meet with clients, kitchen areas for cooking classes and room for students to practice preventive care such as drug education and smoking cessation. Patient interactions will be at a slower pace to allow for extended training time, Davis said. “Our students will be engaged with actual clients and that will allow for interactions similar to the real world.”
The second and fourth floors will house nursing school classrooms, seating up to 100 students, as well as faculty and administrative offices.
On the third floor, an expanded Nabholz Center for Healthcare Simulation (NCHS) will provide students with opportunities for advanced health care simulation using specially designed clinical experiences to simulate real-world situations in a safe environment.
Elsewhere at UCA, school officials announced that 2019-20 fundraising efforts had raised $15,823,802 for student scholarships, faculty support, programs and facilities. That figure represents the second-highest fundraising year in university history as well as support from a record number of donors.
The President’s Society at UCA now consists of 815 members who contributed $1,000 or more during the calendar year. The group’s membership grew this year by 40 percent, and it was responsible for $9.5 million in private support including four seven-figure gifts, another school record.
“Because of our donors’ commitment and dedication, we have surpassed our fundraising goals for four consecutive years,” Davis said in a statement. “We are thankful our donors believe in the transformational power of education and in the difference that our students make in Arkansas and beyond.”
Scholarship awards totaled $1,533,960, yet another new school record, with 816 private scholarships awarded. That’s up from 771 last year. To date, the UCA Foundation has awarded more than $14.7 million in scholarship support since its launch in 1981.
The university’s sixth annual Day of Giving was another major milestone and accounted for another school fundraising record. The event raised $1,126,580, a 49 percent increase over the previous year’s record of $757,939 and accounting for the first seven-figure higher education Day of Giving event in state history, according to school officials. Plus, UCA’s Purple Circle Club, which raises money for athletics, set records for membership growth (435) and money raised in support of student-athletes ($509,167).
Additionally, more than $7 million in private funding has been raised in support of the new Integrated Health Sciences Building and the planned Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts, the latter of which was made possible through a 2019 matching gift of $20 million (the largest single gift in school history) from the Windgate Foundation.