UAPB Breaks Ground on $33 Million Student Engagement Center

Center a Product of a Shared Vision

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

On Friday, Dec. 16, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and University of Arkansas System leadership hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the university’s new Student Engagement Center. 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. Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander, University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Carla Martin, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Elbert Bennett, Student Government Association Vice President Trenton Wills, graduate student Manoja Reddy, Title III Director Dr. Margaret Martin-Hall, and Col. Nathaniel Todd (Ret.), a member of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, used gold shovels to ceremonially break ground. The event can be viewed at

During his remarks, Chancellor Alexander led the audience in applauding 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.” 

Vice Chancellor Bennett, wearing a t-shirt students developed to campaign for the referendum, 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 (rendering photos below) 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 

Consistent with UAPB’s land-grant mission, the Student Engagement Center will also provide outreach service to the Arkansas Delta Region through sponsorship of community health fairs and other events to inform the community on 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 Alexander said. 

Wills, a junior agricultural business major, said during his remarks this Center “will enhance the abilities, talents, and success of our students. It indicates the turning point of the University as we strive to strengthen The Pride. Faculty, staff, and students, we thank you so much for your great efforts.”

While presiding, Dr. Martin called today Progress in the Pride Day, noting that this flagship project is one of many visible construction and rehabilitation projects happening around campus. Other projects include: major upgrades to the interior of the L.A. Davis Student Union; renovation of Larson Hall for faculty research and extension work throughout the state of Arkansas; and construction of a new residence hall, the first since 2017, in order to address the increasing demand for on-campus housing.  

“We are undergoing a renaissance in many ways, and this renaissance is taking place in the education that our students are getting and in the buildings and facilities,” Chancellor Alexander said. 

“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.” 

South exterior rendering of Student Engagement Center
Lobby rendering
Second floor lounge rendering

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