Building for brighter futures
An editorial from www.pbcommercial.com
As recently reported by The Commercial,
the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is ahead of schedule in its
construction of the new STEM Academy facility. Space will be provided
for a wet lab, computer lab, class/seminar rooms, student resource
center, conference rooms and an 8,000-square-foot auditorium for large
of Little Rock is managing the construction of the complex that was
designed by Moody-Nolan and Woods Group Architects.
is primarily being funded by Title III of the Higher Education Act of
1965 under the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Historically
Black Colleges and Universities Program.
to Mary Benjamin, vice chancellor for academic affairs, “We are about a
week ahead of schedule thanks to the dry weather we’ve had,” Benjamin
said Tuesday. “The foundation work is completed, the block wall is
almost done and we are in the early stages of erecting steel.”
more than a little metaphor in Benjamin’s observation. While the crews
may be physically erecting the metal infrastructure of the building, the
project represents much more. Their construction efforts will provide a
home for young scholars — whose efforts will in turn provide a solid
infrastructure for our communal future.
reported, the project, located on L. A. “Prexy” Davis Drive adjacent to
the HPER Complex, is expected to cost $8.2 million and will consist of
two stories covering 29,000 square feet. Green concepts are being
incorporated into its design and construction.
happy to see more construction in Pine Bluff that incorporates green
technology. Hopefully we will soon advance in our planning and
construction ordinances such that all new buildings in Pine Bluff will
utilize these environmentally responsible practices.
the groundbreaking back in May, Interim Chancellor Calvin Johnson
helped frame the initiative and its already swelling student body: “We
are committed to helping our STEM Academy students find jobs in their
fields of study,” Johnson said. “We have 213 students in the program,
which is 8 percent of the total student body. They average a 3.30 GPA
and have an 87 percent retention rate. Twelve students are on track to
graduate this fall and another 27 will graduate in the spring of 2013.”
Beebe was also present at the groundbreaking. He too championed the
effort: “Jobs in STEM-related fields are some of the most sought-after
and well-paying jobs in the country,” Beebe said. “It is therefore
appropriate and exciting that UAPB will provide minority representation
in this field. As the high-tech field continues to grow more complex
with developments we could not have imagined even 10 years ago, higher
education must continue to provide the education and technical skills
that students will need to succeed in this field.”
remarks earlier this week, Benjamin stated: “We are expecting the STEM
Academy to be finished in April of next year. The conference center will
be a little behind that. We hope that it will be finished next August.
We are excited and our students can’t wait to begin their studies in the
new building,” Benjamin said.
Nor can we.
The more students we encourage (and support) in a STEM curriculum
(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the more attractive our
city will be for clean industries and their incumbent technical and
professional jobs. These jobs mean more families, which mean better
schools and neighborhoods.
is a sermon we routinely preach, it bears repeating — often and
enthusiastically. For far too long we waited quietly, hoping some great
outside force would come save us. While that would be a great thing if
it happened, we have a responsibility to “grow our own” in the meantime.