The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is upgrading its student experience with a brand new Student Engagement Center.

On Friday, Dec. 16, UAPB and University of Arkansas System leadership hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the center.

According to the university, the $33 million, approximately 62,000-sq. ft. center will become a hub for campus and community health education and engagement and student health and wellness, assessment, and counseling.

From left to right: Dr. Carla Martin, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration; Mark Beach, CDI CEO; Dr. Margaret Martin-Hall, Title III Director; Elbert Bennett, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs; Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, UA System President; Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander; Trenton Wills, Student Government Association Vice President; Manoja Reddy, graduate student; Kate East, AMR Architects Partner; Col. Nathaniel Todd (ret.), member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees used gold shovels to break ground ceremonially.

UAPB students played a big role in the creation of the new Student Engagement Center.

Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander recognized the students and student leaders who were present, saying “In 2017, [students passed] a referendum to charge themselves a fee, which was later approved by the Board of Trustees. I would like to recognize them for the significant role that they played in making this vision a reality.” 

While wearing a t-shirt that students designed to campaign for the referendum, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Elbert Bennett said, “Today, we honor the promises made to students over the past decade – to provide a brand-new facility that will advance a sense of belonging and strengthen the institution by embracing the unique diversity of our UAPB community.” 

Upon completion, the Student Engagement Center will house the following: 

  • Student Success Center
  • Career Services
  • International Programs 
  • Graduate and professional school preparation
  • Student Health Services and Counseling Center
  • Open-use multipurpose and conference rooms 
  • Two food vendor areas with seating
  • Wellness Center with an indoor walking/running track
  • 4-lane bowling alley
  • Recreation area with pool tables, ping pong, and gaming tables
  • 1,200-seat theater 
  • Open seating for studying and gathering 
Lobby rendering

The Student Engagement Center will also provide outreach service to the Arkansas Delta Region through sponsorship of community health fairs and other events to promote awareness of public health issues. 

“This Center addresses a critical need for the university and the surrounding community by consolidating community health information with comprehensive health and wellness services for students,”

– Chancellor of UAPB, Dr. Laurence B. Alexander

The creation of the Student Engagement Center is just one of many rehabilitation projects happening around UAPB’S campus. The university is also making major upgrades to the interior of the L.A. Davis Student Union, renovating Larson Hall for faculty research and extension work throughout the state of Arkansas, and constructing a new residence hall.  

“We hope students will view the New Student Engagement Center as a symbol of perseverance,” Vice Chancellor Bennett said. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Persistence and determination alone are unstoppable. Students should remain unstoppable in their efforts to create a better UAPB for future Golden Lions.”