University of Central Arkansas

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UCA Bears mascot logo.
Historic postcard view of Wingo Hall.

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) is a comprehensive public higher education institution located in Conway.

The University of Central Arkansas was founded by the General Assembly in 1907 as the Arkansas State Normal School. The purpose of the school in those days was to train professional teachers. The first class of 107 students enrolled in 1908. The Normal School originally had seven professors and nine academic departments. The school changed its name to Arkansas State Teachers College in 1925. The school became known as the State College of Arkansas (SCA) in January 1967 to better reflect its new mission to provide training in the liberal arts and healthcare. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education changed the name again to the University of Central Arkansas in 1975.

Degree Programs and Academics

UCA offers a number of degree programs including the associate of arts, associate of applied science, bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of science in education, bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of business administration, bachelor of music education, master of arts, master of business administration, master of music, master of music education, master of science in education, master of science in nursing, and specialist in education.

McAlister Hall, home of the Honors College.

Honors College

The UCA Honors College was founded by president Jefferson Davis Farris Jr. and professor Norbert Oscar Schedler in 1982. Students in the program pursue their general education course of study in the first two years with other honors students in large groups and small groups. Students who matriculate into the junior year pursue a minor degree in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. Regular co-curricular activities sponsored by the Honors College include Challenge Week, Issues in the Public Square, High Tables, and Soapboxes.

Residential Colleges

  • Hughes
  • Minton
  • State

University College

Academic Outreach

Student Government Association (SGA)

The Student Government Association (SGA) represents the student body in allocating and administrating student activity funds, advising the administration in regard to student-related policies, cooperating with faculty in determining student obligations and honors, considering all student petitions to SGA, planning and supervising all SGA elections, and approving charters or cancellations of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs).

The SGA is composed of total of forty senators divided into an Executive Board consisting of an executive president, executive vice-president, vice-president of operations, and vice-president of finance. SGA representation from each class is as follows: president, vice-president, and five representatives. Additional members: five senators at large, and three graduate senators.

The full Senate meets every Monday at 5 pm in Student Center 208. All students are invited to attend. This is the time when all the classes and committees come together, under the direction of the Executive Board, to report on goals and projects that are being carried out by the body. Any student can be appointed to a committee.

History of UCA

  • Arkansas State Normal School (1907-1925)

UCA was founded as the Arkansas State Normal School in 1907 under Arkansas Act 317. Five communities in the state were considered as sites for the new school: Benton, Conway, Fort Smith, Quitman, and Russellville. Conway's winning bid included a cash payment of $50,000 plus land and infrastructure improvements. The city's location in a "dry" county also recommended it. The first building for the college's eight faculty members was completed in September 1908. It was later called the E.E. Cordrey Science Building. Early students received a two-year Licentiate of Instruction degree.

A dormitory for women, Doyne Hall, was finished in 1913. (Women moved into McAlister Hall in 1934, and men were placed in Doyne.) To facilitate the teaching of teachers in context the school established a Model School where grade school students could be educated and master teachers could be observed. The Administration Building, now known as Main Hall, was constructed in 1919. Many students also participated in the agricultural education programs of the school, reflecting the economic paradigm of the state in the first decades of the twentieth century.

  • Arkansas State Teachers College (1925-1967)

Agriculture disappeared from the curriculum in 1948.

The campus began to take its modern shape under the federal works programs undertaken during the New Deal. Ten buildings were erected in the 1930s, including McAlister Hall, Wingo Hall, Ida Waldran Auditorium, the Prince Center, Doyne Annex (Meadors Hall), the President's Home, Commons (McCastlain Hall), Bernard Hall, the National Youth Administration Building (Baridon Hall), the Home Management House, and a Heating Plant.

  • State College of Arkansas (1967-1975)
  • University of Central Arkansas (1975-present)


Since 2006 UCA has been a Division I school and a member of the Southland Conference.

Enrollment figures

  • 1908 - 100 (est.)
  • 1909 - 200 (est.)
  • 1913 - 312
  • 1916 - 441
  • 1917 - 328
  • 1918 - 302
  • 1919 - 446
  • 1921 - 679
  • 1925 - 871
  • 1930 - 528
  • 1931 - 503
  • 1932 - 502
  • 1933 - 478
  • 1934 - 565
  • 1935 - 649
  • 1936 - 614
  • 1937 - 602
  • 1938 - 713
  • 1939 - 745
  • Fall 1999 - 8,739
  • Fall 2000 - 8,481
  • Fall 2001 - 8,486
  • Fall 2002 - 8,553
  • Fall 2003 - 9,516
  • Fall 2004 - 10,069
  • Fall 2005 - 11,375
  • Fall 2006 - 12,330
  • Fall 2007 - 12,619
  • Fall 2008 - 12,974

UCA Presidents

The University of Central Arkansas has had eight presidents and at least one interim president:

UCA Provosts

Campus Buildings

Notable former students or graduates


  • Jimmy Bryant, The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas (Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company, 2008), 9-19, 42-53.
  • Debra Hale-Shelton, "Dip Seen in UCA Student Numbers," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 9, 2009.

External links