MAGNOLIA – Construction of a new Agriculture Center at Southern Arkansas University is one step closer to reality after the SAU System Board of Trustees gave administrators the green light for a $6.5 million bond issue for the project. The vote came during the trustees’ quarterly meeting on Thursday at the SAU Tech campus in East Camden.
The Department of Agriculture is currently housed in Childs Hall, a 13,240 square foot building that has previously been used as both a barn and a residence hall. The facility was constructed in 1946.
The resolution approved by the Board says that there is a “need for a facility that meets the current standards of quality and size” for continued success in the Department of Agriculture. The University plans to construct a two-story, 30,000 square foot academic building to house classrooms, laboratories and a lecture hall. The building would be constructed near the new University Science Center on the west side of the Magnolia campus.
The University received $1 million in general improvement funds for the project from the Arkansas General Assembly during the 2009 legislative session.
“This is a tremendous step in continuing to improve the academic facilities at Southern Arkansas University,” said SAU President Dr. David Rankin. “I’m thankful that the Board was willing to take this action to secure a brighter future for our agriculture program and the students it serves. We’ve been involved in agriculture since our founding in 1909, and with this new Agriculture Center, we look forward to continuing that tradition for a long time.”
Also during the meeting, Rankin presented the Board with the preliminary designs for the new Regional Livestock Arena. The facility will be constructed to the west of Mulerider Stables on U.S. Highway 82. The project is being funded through private donations and will include a covered rodeo/livestock arena, restrooms, concessions, and a meeting room.
Rankin said planning for the arena is in the “advanced stages.”
The Board considered several other items during the meeting:
- A resolution was approved giving permission for the Arkansas Fire Training Academy Reconstruction Plan. The Academy was badly damaged by a tornado in 2009;
- Dr. Kim Bloss, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, updated the Board on the status of the school. She noted that SAU’s graduate programs have grown faster over the last five years than any other university in the state;
- Gaye Manning, vice chancellor for finance and administration, presented the 2008-2009 Audit Report for the SAU Tech campus;
- The Board approved the Energy Conservation Policy for the Magnolia campus; and
- The Board heard campus update reports from Rankin and SAU Tech Chancellor Corbet Lamkin.