Editor’s note: Story updated with additions throughout.
Work recently began on the Pat Walker Health Center that will add 20,000 square feet to the facility on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. The expansion price tag is $15 million which includes construction and renovation costs.
The project is expected to be completed by the Fall and open in the Spring of 2018.
Mary Alice Serafini, assistant vice chancellor and executive director for the Pat Walker Health Center, said enrollment in health and wellness classes continues to grow along with student enrollment and the facility is in dire need of classrooms and counseling space. She said the health clinic continues to stay busy and there isn’t enough room to accommodate the demand seen by the Women’s Clinic in the facility and the counseling for social and psychological needs.
Since the Center opened 13 years ago, student enrollment at UA has grown from 15,527 in the Spring semester of 2004 to more than 27,194 students in the Fall 2016. This semester preliminary enrollment was 25,382 as of Feb. 1.
Serafini said this expansion has been in the pipeline for five years because it became apparent shortly after the Center opened it would not be big enough. In 2010 the project was approved by UA leadership and seven years later the construction has finally begun.
The project was announced officially Tuesday at the facility with health professionals expected to discuss expansion details. Key features of the expansion and renovation are expected to include:
• Three new academic classrooms that can be combined into a large, 200-seat classroom;
• Efficient access to all medical services – the Women’s Clinic will move to the first floor, while the Primary Care Clinic and Allergy, Immunization and Travel Clinic will be renovated to increase efficiencies;
• A 100% increase in dedicated space for Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS); and
• Larger dedicated space for Wellness and Health Promotion and Administrative Services.
Serafini said the CAPS center space is doubling and the wellness classroom space will one-third larger than the present site. Importantly Serafini said the Women’s Clinic will move to the ground floor and be located next to the Primary Care Clinic which both will be getting complete renovations that should help them handle more students and do so efficiently and discreetly.
The Center also teaches one-credit classes on health and wellness throughout both semesters and that new classroom space will allow for more students to participate. The Center already reaches one in every two students with services, classes or promotions which take place throughout the year.
Mandy Macke, executive director for the Williard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, spoke at the event sharing how much Pat Walker loved helping the University of Arkansas. She said Walker was so proud of this Center and the work it does to enhance the lives of students and faculty.
“I know Pat is smiling down on us today and pleased to see there is a need the family can address,” Macke said.
The student health center was first established in 1875 by Fayetteville community leaders to isolate students with communicable disease. As control of communicable diseases became safer, the health center expanded from medical care to mental health care and wellness and health promotion.
The Pat Walker Health Center opened its doors in 2004 with a mission to help provide professional and comprehensive medical and mental health care, wellness support and health promotion for students, faculty, and staff at the UA.