UA Rich Mountain breaks ground for on-campus student housing and Dining Hall Expansion

Pictured above during the ground breaking ceremony are (left to right) Eric Stipend of Turn Key Construction; UA Rich Mountain Board of Visitors: Gar Eisele, Al Gathright, Sue Cavner, Michael Wood, Chancellor Phillip Wilson, Avel Mendoza, Michael Myers, Rep. John Maddox and Foundation Board Members Charles “Bo” Collins, and John Vacca. 

UA Rich Mountain broke ground on what Chancellor Dr. Phillip Wilson describes as “the most transformative building project in the history of the college,” Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. 

The renderings of the new project were debuted to the public at that time. The $7+ million project will boast 144 beds and will also expand the current student union and bookstore to accommodate a larger dining hall. The entire project will be adding over 45,000 s.f. to the campus. All of the construction will lay behind the main campus and has allowed for future growth. The architect for the project is MAHG and the construction management firm is Turn- Key, both are based out of Ft. Smith. 

In his opening remarks, Chancellor Wilson acknowledged the contributions of Mr. Bill Abernathy and Mr. Ode Maddox, who both have buildings on campus named in their honor. Maddox served as District 22 State Representative and was always a strong advocate for the college and Mr. Bill Abernathy served on the original steering committee that worked diligently to establish the college and would later serve as the college president for 13 years. “Both of these men were extraordinary leaders and visionaries and we couldn’t be where we are today without their contributions,” said Chancellor Wilson. 

Representative John Maddox, who is from that same lineage being the nephew of Abernathy and grandson of Ode Maddox, spoke about his efforts at the legislative level in 2017 to eliminate legislation on the books from 1947 that literally prohibited community colleges from building on-campus student housing. He praised the immediate success of the Bucks Athletics program and encouraged everyone to follow their pages on social media to watch as the program continues to build. 

Following the ground breaking, the UA Rich Mountain Foundation held a picnic fundraising event inside the Ouachita Center. The event was well attended by loyal college and Bucks Athletics supporters who were eager to hear updates on the athletic program. Chancellor Wilson debuted renderings of work scheduled to be completed at McMillan Park to create collegiate softball and baseball fields, expanded parking, resurface tennis courts plus the addition of a third court, and construction of a new building that will house the park restrooms, coach’s offices, and batting cages. 

Bucks Athletics now competes in the NJCAA Division 2. The college currently has cross-country and will launch soccer in fall 2019 and both baseball and softball in 2020. 

Cross-country Coach Samantha Shores shared the pride in her inaugural team’s first District Championship as well as the academic successes of her team. Marlenne Mendez, Miriam Mendez, and Alisa Kimble were named as Scholar All Americans by the NJCAA Cross-Country Coaches Association by maintaining GPAs above 3.5, while meeting the rigorous demands of the cross-country program. 

Coach Brian Byrd gave a recruitment update announcing 10 international players who have committed to play for the inaugural Bucks soccer team. International athletes thus far are from England, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Peru, Portugal, and Columbia. Coach Byrd has also been successful in recruiting several players from Texas, Washington DC, Maryland, several from across Arkansas, and multiple local players from Mena and Cossatot River. 

Foundation Director Dr. Diann Gathright announced multiple naming opportunities the new construction and ball fields provide that will fund immediate needs within the athletic department as well as provide scholarship opportunities. 

To continue to follow the progress of Bucks Athletics, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To support or receive additional information on the various naming opportunities or other ways that you can support the growing athletic program, email foundation@ uarichmountain.edu or contact Diann Gathright at 479- 234-2504. 

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