Changes Might Come to Union Food Court

By Kayla Nunez
The Razorback Reporter

The Arkansas Union food court might be getting an upgrade in the spring semester of 2018, pending approval in November by the Board of Trustees, causing people on campus to find alternatives to the food court.

There would be temporary dining options during the renovations including food kiosks inside the Union and a food truck on the Union mall, said Lynne Bell, assistant vice chancellor of business services and student affairs.

“The last major renovation of the food court was in 1998,” Bell said.

Bell said there have been a few different focus groups and surveys over the past several semesters which get feedback from students, faculty and staff on plans for the Arkansas Union food court renovations. 

The estimated cost for the food court renovation is $5 million, Bell said.

The renovation plans include expanding Chick-fil-A, adding more food options such as pasta and made-to-order salads, and resolving the issue of long lines.

“Each concept will have its own cash station to help expedite check-out,” Bell said. “Students are fed up with the food lines.”

U of A senior Rickala Purnell said there are long lines at the food court any time she’s there. 

“I go there occasionally but I would probably go more if they resolved the issues with the long lines,” Purnell said. 

The surveys and focus groups done by the university found that some customers thought the current layout of the food court was confusing and had a hard time finding things such as utensils.  The plans for the new layout would fix this issue.

“The new layout will be more open and more easily viewed from the entry outside,” Bell said. 

The number one request from students is breakfast at Chick-fil-A.  The plans do include adding breakfast. 

The Chick-fil-A corporate office sent someone to the U of A on Tuesday, Sept. 28, to give ideas on what can be done to the Chick-fil-A in the Union food court and what has worked for other college campuses. 

There are a couple more plans for the Union that will be requested at the Board of Trustees meeting, Bell said.  Those plans include re-carpeting the ballroom and replacing three heating and air conditioning units. 

The cost of the food court renovations, the re-carpeting and the heating and air conditioning unit replacements would be expensive but Bell doesn’t have an exact price yet.  She said an architect and contractor will come in soon to go over the plans and then the university will have an exact price.

The renovations will not increase student fees, Bell said.  Chartwells agreed to invest some money in the project and the rest will come from the facility fee. 

Rob Stagni, director of the Arkansas Union, said that space in the building is limited.

“This building is pretty packed to the gills,” Stagni said.    

Plans to add on to the building have been discussed and brought forward by the Associated Student Government but there is no money to do that project at the moment, Stagni said.

“We always hope that’s in the future,” Stagni said.  “We’re going to have to make the most of what we have at the moment.”

If the plans for the renovations are approved by the Board of Trustees in November, construction will most likely begin in the spring of 2018 and be completed by the fall of 2018, Bell said.

Planned UA Alumnus Gift to Benefit Out of State Finance Majors

By Hermon Negash

The Razorback Reporter

A UA alumnus created a planned gift of $200,000 for scholarships to the Walton Business College in honor of his parents.

The scholarships will benefit Walton College undergrad students who are majoring in finance. Out-of-state students and students with an insurance concentration will be preferred in receiving the scholarship. The UA alumnus said, “I wanted someone from out of state to see the beauty and greatness of Arkansas people,” in regard to the out-of-state preference.

Kevin Campbell’s donation will create two $100,000 scholarships named after his parents which will be called the John O. Campbell Endowed Scholarship and the Elizabeth Ann Campbell Endowed Scholarship. Campbell made the planned gift to commemorate what he described as the sacrifices his parents made to put him through college.

Campbell’s donation is a planned gift meaning the gift has not been officially received so students will not be able to use the money until it is received. The scholarship is also an endowed scholarship, meaning the money will be put into a spending account to generate interest.

“Mr. Campbell’s gift is being made as a planned gift, so scholarships cannot be awarded until the gift has been received and the endowment has time to generate interest for spending,” Jennifer Holland, director of development communications, said.

It is a general rule of thumb to allow at least one year for the gift amount to generate interest for awarding Holland said. Spending accounts usually generate about 4 percent interest annually; the interest generated will be what students receive through scholarships. The endowment will yield two $4,000 that could come as early as next year. Future UA students will be able to bear the fruit of Campbell’s gift.

Search for UA School of Art Director underway

By Lindsey Guimont

The Razorback Reporter

The search for a director of the newly created UA School of Art is under way. At the same time, students and faculty are looking forward to the changes that a $120 million gift will bring to their former department.

“We formed a search committee and we are starting the process of looking for a new director, and I understand there is a lot of interest so we’re very confident that we’re going to get a strong and visionary director to lead us into the future,” said Lynn Jacobs, art history distinguished professor.

The seven-member search committee is made up of program heads, the interim director, community members, university administration and a representative from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, she said.

The committee goal is to have a new director in place by the start of the spring semester, said Andra Parrish Liwag, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences director of communications.

The School of Art was created by a $120 million endowment from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation. The endowment will go toward three main goals, including providing financial support, engaging with Crystal Bridges and expanding graduate programs, according to the news release that announced the gift.

“Additional goals include supporting the Fine Arts Library and the renovation of the historic Edward Durrell Stone-designed Fine Arts Center,” Liwag said. “For more of a breakdown, $36 million will go toward graduate student support and $14 million toward undergraduate student support in the form of scholarships, assistantships, etc.”

All aspects of the school will be phased in over five years and will factor in the approvals necessary for developing degree programs by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Liwag said.

“We’re going to get up to about 13 total faculty in art history and we’re also going to build and develop a master’s program and a Ph.D. program. We have never had graduate programs for art history before,” Jacobs said.

Kaitlyn Ayres (CQ), a junior graphic design major is excited for the changes to begin because part of the endowment is geared toward graphic design and renovating buildings, she said. She also appreciates that art education is being supported at the university.

“It’s great to see art get support when a lot of the time it’s looked down upon or it’s not seen as the most important major,” Ayres said. “You get to see that other people believe in you and believe in what art can be for this world.”

Alice Walton’s goal is to help everyone find their “art spirit,” she wrote in her blog, because it was a force in her life that helped with finance, business, philanthropy and of course, art. “The school will help develop not only artists, but stronger business leaders, engineers and scientists,” she wrote.

“From Northwest Arkansas, we will inspire students and scholars from around the globe with a fresh approach that will help redefine collaboration and experimentation by infusing the study of art into disciplines across higher education including business, education, architecture and engineering,” Walton wrote. “And with a close connection to Crystal Bridges, we will bring a new level of study to American art to help create a better understanding of our history and our future.”

Caribbean Students Endure Hurricane Season Away from Home

Photo by Andrea Johnson.
Diane Charles, an international Dominican student, waited nearly three days to hear from family after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

By Andrea Johnson

The Razorback Reporter

Since Hurricane Maria tore through the Caribbean and damaged thousands of homes, including those of UA international students, various campus groups have organized efforts to support those affected here and abroad.

Maria made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane over Dominica around 9:15 p.m., Sept. 18, according to the National Hurricane Center.

From Fayetteville, junior Diane Charles could only watch, wait and pray as Maria plummeted toward her home in Dominica.

A text message from her brother alerted her that the storm had taken the roof from their home, and as the storm persisted in its course, the updates came less frequently, Charles said. By midnight, she lost communication from home but stayed awake, checking for news and changes in the weather until 3 a.m.

“It was terrifying,” Charles said. “I was crying a lot that night; we were all just crying, praying and praying.”

Charles received a text message from her brother the evening of Sept. 21, informing her that her family survived the hurricane. Communication from family and friends came sporadically in the following days.

Ninety-eight students from countries in the Caribbean attend the UofA, according to preliminary numbers in the Fall 2017 Enrollment Report by Country of Citizenship. The majority of these students came from the Bahamas and Dominica with 61 and 11 students, respectively.

Undergraduate students who are citizens and permanent residents of qualifying Caribbean countries can receive the UA Caribbean Tuition Advantage, which may cover up to 90 percent of the out-of-state portion of tuition depending on GPA and test scores, according to the UA International Admissions website.

Michael Freeman, director of International Students and Scholars, identified communication as a problem for Caribbean students in the U.S. who cannot communicate with family abroad after Maria hit the islands.

Although ISS staff cannot provide means of communication to areas where phone and internet services are malfunctioning, ISS staff works with students’ problems individually, such as finding ways to work within Department of Homeland Security regulations for students who cannot get money from home, Freeman said. He advises those who want to contribute toward relief efforts to seek out an organization with the capability to do so.

“We have learned over the years that students may collect a lot of donations, and they had no way to get it to the people that really need it,” Freeman said.

UA Dominican students contacted various UA offices and organizations to help publicize a donation drive for items deemed urgently needed by a list released through the Office of the Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.  The students wanted to focus on the needs of women and children and will accept relevant donations in the Sam M. Walton College of Business’ Office of Diversity and Inclusion until Oct. 13, Charles said.

“We want to do our part, even if we are far away,” Charles said.

Two students from Dominica also approached Jacey Sites, senior president of the UA Red Cross Registered Student Organization, about getting involved with relief efforts. To Sites, directing blood donations from the RSO’s BIG Fall Blood Drive toward natural disaster relief seemed like the best way to help, she said.

The BIG Fall Blood Drive is scheduled for 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 5 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Verizon Ballroom in the Arkansas Union.

UA Red Cross officers began planning the blood drive before the peak of hurricane season, but Sites thinks the greater student response can be attributed to a general desire to help victims of recent natural disasters, she said.

In the spring, one student unaffiliated with the RSO volunteered to help at the blood drive. As of Sept. 29, 80 students had signed up to volunteer through the Volunteer Action Center.

To Caribbean students, hurricane season is a part of life, said Cherrianne Davis, a sophomore from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Each year, they expect and prepare for storms at home by taking actions such as gathering dry foods, securing their roofs and barring windows, Charles said.

“There’s always a hurricane season, but it’s different this year,” Davis said. “They keep coming like there’s not a break.”

UA Caribbean students braced for Hurricane Irma, and although most of their homes abroad were not directly affected, their islands still displayed effects of the storms.

“When we say it didn’t affect us, we just mean it didn’t pass directly over us, but we still get all the side effects – the sea surging, the winds, the rains,” Davis said. “… The hurricane itself might not pass over us, but we are still generally affected as a Caribbean.”

A version of this article appeared in The Arkansas Traveler.

UA Offers Disabled Students New Opportunities

By Katie Serrano
The Razorback Reporter

Arkansas ranks 43rd in employment for workers who have disabilities, according to the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium. The University or Arkansas is working to improve that ranking in a new post-secondary education program tailored to students with learning disabilities.
EMPOWER, which stands for Educate, Motivate, Prepare, Opportunity, Workplace Readiness, Employment, Responsibility, is the first of its kind in Arkansas. The program goal is to give the students a genuine college experience and to prepare them for employment opportunities, said Ashley Bradley, the director of the program.
“Although this program isn’t degree-based, our end goal is for our students to be able to do whatever they want, wherever they want at the end of these four years,” Bradley said.
The labor force participation rate for individuals with disabilities fell from 39.3 percent in 2009 to 34.5 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“While the first two years we want the focus to be on the college experience, the last two years the students will be involved in internships with local companies such as The Inn at Carnall Hall or Chartwells, that will prepare them for employment when they graduate,” Bradley said.
Nick Lange, one of the three freshmen in EMPOWER, is interested in working in the hospitality industry.
“I’m from Dallas but I want to stay in Fayetteville and work at a hotel,” Lange said. “I’m learning skills that will help me get my own apartment and live on my own when I graduate.”
Tom Smith, Professor of Special Education and previous dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, brought this program to Arkansas and said he has seen it’s success at other schools across the nation.
“There are around 250 programs like this across the nation,” Smith said. “Other campuses have seen huge success in their student’s independence, and have seen their students hired when they graduate.”
The average employment rate for individuals without disabilities from 2008 to 2015 was 75 percent, compared to those with disabilities at an employment rate of 35 percent, according to the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.
In 2016, the average monthly employment-to-population ratio of individuals with a disability increased from 27.0 percent in 2015 to 27.7 and the average monthly labor force participation rate increased from 30.5 percent to 31.2 percent, according to the Trends in Disability Employment National Update.
Mary Borman, another EMPOWER student, has competed in the National Special Olympics swim team and said she hopes to become a P.E. teacher.
“We are taking a Recreation and Sports Management class,” Borman said. “I want to use it to become some type of trainer and teach cycling, Zumba or yoga.”
The third student, Grant Alley from Little Rock, said he “wasn’t exactly sure what he wants to do, but loves history classes” and hopes to pursue something along those lines.
EMPOWER aims to make these students’ goals possible, and hopes to grow the program to about 10 students per class.
Seventy-seven percent of high school students with disabilities said they aspired to get a postsecondary education, but only 31 percent had gone on to take postsecondary classes, and these students attend two-year or community college at more than double the rate of the general population, according to a survey done by the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs.
“We want our students to have their named etched in the sidewalk just like everyone else at the end of these four years,” Bradley said.
The college completion rate for disabled students is 41 percent, compared to the 52 percent of college graduates in the general population, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
“We can already see the improvement in these students lives, and new goals forming for them” Smith said. “If we hadn’t started this program, we would be missing out on a huge opportunity for the whole campus.”