UCA President Tom Courtway Outlines Vision For Growth

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 13 views 

University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway says there are four ways that students fail to obtain a college degree once they begin the journey.

In an interview on this week’s Fox 16 Talk Business program, Courtway said academics, home sickness, financial reasons, and failure to make a bond with campus can all factor into student failure.

“I tell our students all the time, get involved in something. Whatever it is – whether it’s a Greek organization or a religious group or the checker club – I don’t really care. But when you come to college, don’t just sit in the classroom and go eat by yourself. Go get involved in something. I think that’s very important,” Courtway said.

In his investiture ceremony on Wednesday, Courtway outlined his vision for growing the Conway campus of 11,500 students. The “Framework for the Future: A Blueprint for National Leadership and Regional Prominence” is organized around three primary goals:

Become one the top regional universities in the South;
Create a campus that attracts and retains the best students, faculty, and staff; and Maximize external relations effectiveness.

The newly installed UCA president said he wants to grow enrollment to 13,500 during the next five years and push for higher faculty salaries and improvements in an ever-evolving classroom setting.

Courtway said that traditional education efforts, especially at the graduate level, have been greatly impacted by trends such as online courses, non-traditional students, and different learning techniques that don’t always resonate with a new generation of learners.

“I think we understand them [trends], but I don’t know if we’re adapting to them as quickly as we need to, but we’re going to – particularly, online education,” he said.

Courtway also discussed a new mixed-use development along Donaghey Avenue that he said would add to Conway’s reputation as a “designation location.” The early-stage plans include retail and commercial venture space along with student housing and aesthetic improvements to the thoroughfare.

All told, 200 private beds for students could be added to stretch the campus’ capacity of 3,600 students in housing.

“There’s a great demand for private rooms,” Courtway said. “What we’re in the planning stages of is drawing a mixed-use development. My vision, and some of the other people on the campus, is that we would have a ground floor of retail shops and commercial-type endeavors, and then upper floors would be student housing.”

Conway’s downtown has experience a renaissance in recent years with the restoration of office buildings focused around the city’s center. Hendrix College’s “village” concept has also been an early success. Last month, Conway also announced plans for the $90 million Central Landing, an upscale regional shopping center that will repurpose the Conway municipal airport property.

You can view his full interview below.