UAFS students, administration and staff, along with Fort Smith community leaders,
gather together Aug. 22 to cut the ribbon for the university's new Recreation and
In front of a capacity crowd gathered in the lobby of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s new state-of-the-art Recreation and Wellness Center – dubbed the “RaWC” – Chancellor Paul B. Beran lauded the building and the students who helped make it a reality during his remarks at the building’s ribbon cutting Aug. 22.
“To truly prepare students for successful lives, a university must do more than simply educate and stimulate students’ minds. It must instill healthy habits that they will carry with them long after they graduate,” Beran said. “The students, staff and faculty who use this new facility will create lifelong health habits that can lower illness and make us healthier, happier, smarter people.”
Backdropping Beran’s comments were students using the 47,000 square-foot center’s multiple facilities, including basketball and volleyball courts, an expanded fitness area with new equipment, a three-lane running track, and a rock climbing wall.
Beran called the center’s creation “a huge exercise in the democratic process,” as members of the Student Government Association spearheaded the effort to construct the center after they felt the university had outgrown the previous facility.
Citing UAFS as “the university of opportunity” in the state of Arkansas, Beran praised the efforts of the SGA, who took initiative and held a vote of the student body to self-impose a student activity fee to fund the center before defending the center’s proposal in front of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees.
“Students voted, and ultimately the resolution passed with a student majority vote,” Beran said. “The UA Board of Trustees were on our campus for one of their meetings and so the question of approval was set before the Board right here at UAFS. Three student SGA officers defended the proposal … and after answering some tough questions, the board passed the proposal unanimously.”
The Recreation and Wellness Center
Beran closed out his statements by reiterating the symbolism of the center.
“Not only is this center a beautiful and much-needed addition to campus, it stands as a testament to what happens when motivated students take advantage of the opportunities at this university,” Beran said. “Students can effect change on this campus and leave a lasting impact on the university for future students – and future generations – and this Recreation and Wellness Center is but one of many examples of how students do more here.”
Austin Lloyd of Pearland, Texas, current president of the SGA, followed Beran’s remarks and echoed his sentiments of the lasting impact students made with the center.
“This facility is important because for us in SGA, sometimes we don’t get to see our impact until years and years down the road,” Lloyd said. “So for those [from the SGA] that got to return today and those who will come in years later, this shows that what we do does matter.”
“Not only is this center a beautiful and much-needed addition to campus, it stands as a testament to what happens when motivated students take advantage of the opportunities at this university. Students can effect change on this campus and leave a lasting impact on the university for future students – and future generations – and this Recreation and Wellness Center is but one of many examples of how students do more here.”
“Overall, the student body is very excited for this new facility,” Lloyd continued. “There’s a lot more equipment, a lot more space, great hours and things that weren’t featured in the old recreation and wellness center. I’m very excited for what this building is going to bring for us.”
Also speaking at the ribbon cutting were Dr. Don Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System; Eldon Bock, chief operating officer at WER Architects; and Meighan Pendergrass, director of campus recreation and wellness.