Pulaski Technical College officials and community leaders broke ground May 11 for construction of a new Campus Center, which will become the signature building on the college's main campus in North Little Rock.
College officials also announced a campaign to raise $4 million to help fund construction of the 90,000 square-foot Campus Center project, as well as a 15,000 square-foot addition to the college Library. More than $2 million has been raised already.
During the ceremony, Edward M. Penick, Sr., chairman of the board of directors of the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation, announced that the foundation has awarded a $500,000 challenge grant to Pulaski Tech for the Campus Center and Library expansion building fund.
In recognition of the gift, the college will rename its Library in honor of Gus and Leonard Ottenheimer. "We are proud to be a part of such an excellent academic institution that does so much for our community," Penick said in announcing the gift. "We hope our involvement will motivate others to take a hard look at possible participation as well."
Lyndell Lay, chairman of the board of directors of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation, said, "This is the first ever major gift drive the college has undertaken. Therefore, the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation challenge gift is immensely important to us."
"It sends a powerful message that the foundation recognizes the importance of the college and is willing to invest in its future success."
Lay said the Ottenheimer Brothers Foundation will match up to $500,000 in other private donations from those that also care about education in central Arkansas.
John E. Barnes, chairman of the Pulaski Tech board of trustees, said the three-story Campus Center will serve as a focal point for Pulaski Tech's Scenic Hill location and will contain multipurpose classroom and office space, as well as lecture halls, service areas and conference rooms.
"The Campus Center will enable us to accommodate a projected enrollment of 8,500 students by the fall 2005 semester and will be a single location where current and prospective students can take advantage of support services, college-related business and student activities, all under one roof," Dr. Dan F. Bakke, college president, said.
A wide range of offices and services will be housed in the Campus Center, including admissions and records; financial aid; counseling, advising and career services; assessment and testing services; student activities, disability services, campus police/public safety and the business office/cashiers.
The center also will feature a clock tower, circulation mall, courtyard, recreation area, food services and dining hall, student organization offices, bookstore and study area.
"Conference and meeting facilities will allow us to connect with the community as never before and to offer student life and development activities that are appropriate to a comprehensive community college," Bakke said.
The 15,000 square foot expansion to the Library complex will enable the college to meet the needs of its growing student population and to provide additional space for technology, group and individual study and collections.
"Our Library, which was built to serve 1,600 students, is in jeopardy of not meeting accreditation standards," Bakke said. "It is important for us to continue to improve our academic resources and access to technology in order to ensure student learning and success."
Total cost of construction, furnishings and equipment for the projects is estimated at $19 million, which has been financed with the issuance of revenue bonds backed by student tuition and fees and private donations.
Taggart Foster Currence Gray Architects, Inc. of North Little Rock designed the Campus Center and Library addition. Construction will get under way in June and will be completed in spring 2006.