UALR Benton Center to receive facelift

Expanding the UALR Benton Center reached a milestone as fundraising continues to build a new facility in Downtown Benton.

An announcement from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock notes that the Benton campus will begin a major facelift to the existing building and grounds this summer when its advisory board closes on a three-year capital campaign goal of $450,000.

“Fundraising is progressing right on schedule,” said John Young, the new Advisory Board chair.

“At this point, contributions, pledges and commitments total $315,000. Support has come from all over Saline County, with support from businesses, organizations and individuals. Annual pledges range from $100 to $10,000.”

The UALR Benton Center Fund was established for the support, maintenance and promotion of the Benton Center and is the mechanism for Saline County residents to invest in the future of higher education in their county.

Young said support from UALR’s main campus has never been stronger, with an annual budget that has grown more than 15 percent in the last two years and university improvements totaling more than $500,000.

“When this project started two and a half years ago, we were overwhelmed with the initial support for growing and building our local university campus. We’re pleased to report that phase one is almost complete, and we will begin updating our current building as we make plans for our exciting future,” Young said.

Planning is also under way to make functional changes to the existing facility that will promote student life until a new facility can be built.

The UALR Benton Center also is working with the Office of Alumni and Development to more effectively engage alumni living in Saline County. A goal has been set to create a Saline County alumni chapter.

“Our goal for a new, expanded building hasn’t changed. However, until that time we need to meet our current students’ needs, and I believe we are on the right path to do it,” Young added.

According to board member Terry Benham, "The functional change is the development of a student workspace where students can mingle, study, and have a small taste of campus life interaction. This is the first time that has been available and is a small step in the right direction to engage our students."

Plans are to eventually build a new facility facing Market Street on the C.W. Lewis Stadium site.