UCA: Higher education or hotel? | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

UCA: Higher education or hotel?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 7:16 AM

Shelby Brewer, a UCA graduate, calls my attention to her Facebook post on news that the University of Central Arkansas is paying $11,000 for an automated service that students can use for a wakeup call.

Couldn't that money be spent on something more useful and productive ... say for scholarships for needy students, or well-deserved raises for the faculty? After living in the dorm for 5 years, I'm thinking that $11,000 could have been used to make the cafeteria food a bit more edible. (There really was "mystery meat" in the hot plate line at UCA by the way. Believe me, I tried it.)

I guess what really baffles me about this service is that UCA is "coddling" its students by providing this service.

Isn't college all about growing up and becoming a responsible adult? Most responsible adults I know are smart enough to operate that ancient device known as an "alarm clock."

UCA's Jeff Pitchford comments:

I read your blog this morning about a former UCA student commenting on the new concierge services that UCA is offering this year to our students. Yes, the cost of the phone service part is around $11,000. While a small amount of our $157 million budget, we want to make sure we spend every dime we have efficiently and feel this is a good service to provide our students. While it does offer a "wake up" service with phone calls, it also provides all types of information not only for the students but also for their parents and friends who may visit them on campus and come to Conway.

As far as spending it on other things, by state law we can only spend a certain percentage of our funds on scholarships and we are at that limit. As far as raises go, we have planned for raises and have only put them off as a response to Governor Beebe's request that we do so. When we get the green light, we will provide the raises to our faculty. And I'm sorry Ms. Brewer did not enjoy some of the food in our cafeteria. I eat there from time to time and our students can use their meal plan not only there, but also at other places on campus such as Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A, Quiznos, etc. It's not the cafeteria food of days past - it's quite a selection.

This service is new and another way we hope to make our students feel connected to UCA and to be successful. If a student gets off to a good academic start and feels connected to a university, their chances of graduating increase and that's what we are trying to do here at UCA.


Jeff Pitchford

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