Officials from the University of Central Arkansas and UCA Foundation in Conway announced Friday the public phase of a comprehensive capital campaign intent on raising $100 million. The landmark campaign, dubbed UCA Now: Impact Arkansas and Beyond is the largest such effort in the school’s history.
The quiet phase of the campaign began nearly five years ago in July 2016. Since then, university officials announced, $72.5 million of the total $100 million has already been raised, spearheaded by a surprise $3 million estate gift announced at Friday’s event, from Little Rock financier Rush Harding and his wife Linda, both graduates of the university. The couple, who have been stalwart supporters of the school for more than three decades, serve as UCA Nowcampaign co-chairs.
“This $100 million campaign again raises the bar for our university and places UCA in special company relative to peers,” said UCA President Houston Davis in a press release statement. “Breaking through the ceiling of $100 million announces that our students, faculty, staff and alumni belong in this select company in American public education.”
“I am excited about the future of this university. Our time is now.”
Created by ACT 317 in 1907, UCA began as a teacher’s training institution, Arkansas State Normal School, in 1908 with an initial student body of 100 students. It was, at the time, the only Arkansas institution of higher learning created solely to educate teachers.
From those humble beginnings – and through two name changes, State College of Arkansas (1967) and its present moniker (1975) – UCA has grown to a total current enrollment of nearly 11,000 students while maintaining a 16 to 1 student-teacher ratio. It offers instruction across 162 academic programs and certificates.
Outside the classroom, the University of Central Arkansas is also a major economic engine within the state. According to statistics supplied by the school, UCA adds $1.01 billion to the Arkansas economy annually while another $878 million is added by its graduates employed within the state. In addition, UCA’s financial impact supports 19,500 jobs.
UCA Now includes four campaign pillars, to be supported by campaign funds: success, culture, wellness and excellence. Success is growing university endowments to remove financial barriers to student success. Culture distinguishes UCA’s commitment to raising the bar for arts in central Arkansas which will help usher in new social, cultural and economic opportunities for the region.
Wellness signifies UCA’s role as a leader in health care education and wellness in Arkansas. Excellence showcases the exceptional disciplines, partnerships and unique experiential experiences that contribute to student success and community growth.
The UCA Now campaign is slated to run through July 2024, with the goals of attracting 15,000 donors, steering committee leadership said.