The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) was founded in 1907 as the Arkansas State Normal School, a state-run school which aimed to centralise teacher training in Arkansas. Local leaders wanted to address the state’s lack of college-educated teachers; at the time, the vast majority of teachers had only attended high school.
The original school opened in 1908 with around 100 students, nine departments and seven faculty, meaning that teachers had to double up on the topics they covered. Today the university has expanded to over 10,000 students and 400 faculty.
UCA has six colleges: Business, Education, Fine Arts and Communication, Health and Behavioural Sciences, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Over 80 undergraduate majors are offered, but the university’s drama and theatre, education, occupational therapy and physical therapy programmes are particularly well-regarded.
The university’s Public Appearances programme brings a wide range of speakers, performers and touring musicals to the Reynolds Performance Hall for public shows that are attended by students and members of the local community. The hall opened in 2000 with a concert by the late soul musician Ray Charles.
UCA’s 300-acre campus is located in the geographical centre of the state of Arkansas in the city of Conway, near to the state capital Little Rock.
There are over 200 student organisations at UCA, including 23 Greek societies. A large number of students belong to a fraternity or sorority, while many others join one of UCA’s interest groups, such as the African Students Association, Dancers United, Student Veterans of America or Japanese Society.