UCA was originally founded in 1907 as the Arkansas State Normal School. In 1925, with a continued focus on training young men and women to be educators, it changed its name to the Arkansas State Teachers College.
Over the next few decades, however, UCA expanded its mission, developing its liberal arts and, especially, health science programs, and in 1967, it became known as the State College of Arkansas. One last time, in 1975, to reflect its broader array of academic options, the school rechristened itself the University of Central Arkansas.
Education and health sciences still remain top majors as well as highly reputable programs, but masters-level degrees and PhDs are also available in six different colleges.
The small, well-kept campus is full of flowers, greenery, and plazas as well as grassy quads. Brick paths crisscross the grounds, including the Senior Legacy Walk, to which departing students can add a brick inscribed with their name for $100. The Walk makes up part of the courtyard by the new Student Center, which was remodeled in 2008. Main Hall, the oldest building on campus and a UCA icon, dates back to 1919.
Conway, a small, conservative, religious town of 50,000, is about half an hour from Little Rock, AR, and located between two mountain ranges, the Arkansas Game and Fish reservoir, and Beaverfork Lake. Students have lots of outdoor activity options and fewer immediate social ones (the town is technically dry), but a majority of undergrads have cars and Little Rock is within easy driving distance.
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Scottie Pippen, NBA great
The Bears and Sugar Bears compete in the NCAA Division I in the Southland Conference for the following sports: men's baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field (indoor), and track and field (outdoor), and women's basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field (indoor), track and field (outdoor), and volleyball. They are Division I-AA for football.
In 2008, the Bears were the unofficial champions of the Southland conference, due to a technicality; in the 2005-2006 season, as part of the Gulf South Conference, the men's teams won the All Sports Trophy.
The school's name has changed four times in 100 years.
UCA's undergrad population this year is its largest in history.
Male athletes are known as Bears while female athletes are called Sugar Bears (though for a long time they were "the Bearettes").
Dorm options include residence halls, apartments, and family-style housing. Freshmen generally live in the residence halls -- doubles and some suites -- which are clustered on the North Side, including Short/Denney Hall, Farris Hall, Hughes Hall, New Hall, and State Hall, and the South Side, including Baridon Hall, Bernard Hall, Carmichael Hall, Conway Hall, and Arkansas Hall.
Four co-ed learning communities on campus make up the UCA residential colleges system, an option available to all freshmen: Hughes, State Residential College, Minton, and Short/Denney.