UACCM purchases property for expansion

The addition of a new Workforce Training Center became more of a reality for the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton on March 11 when the college purchased an additional 9.67 acres of land at the southwest corner of its campus.

Coupled with the acreage purchased by UACCM in May 2013, the college now owns all of the more than 17.5 acres of land needed for future construction of the estimated $10 million facility.

After almost 10 years of discussion, UACCM purchased the land, located on the northeast corner of Poor Farm Road and University Boulevard, from Gene Ruffiner. An initial agreement was signed Nov. 11, 2013, to purchase the land and complete the acquisition of property within the college’s planning boundary.  

Ruffiner believes in the mission of UACCM and attended the college when it was still under the name Petit Jean Vocational Technical School.

UACCM Chancellor Dr. Larry Davis said, “Our dream for the future of this area starts with securing the 17 acres of land for the Workforce Training Center. With this purchase of Mr. Ruffiner’s land combined with last year’s purchase of Mr. Coffman’s land, step one toward our dream and vision for Morrilton, Conway County, and all of our six-county service area is complete.”

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved the purchase Jan. 24 after Davis and Vice Chancellor for Administration Dr. Linda Birkner made preliminary arrangements. The transaction was complete when Ruffiner and UACCM closed on the property last week.

“The acquisition of Mr. Ruffiner’s property will allow us to continue growing and adding programs that are vital to our six-county service area,” said Birkner. “The campus now stretches from Bruce Street to Poor Farm Road, and the visual impact is a valuable asset to the city and the community as a whole.”

Diana Butler (from left) and Dr. Linda Birkner assist as Dr. Larry Davis and Gene Ruffiner complete the paperwork for the land purchase.

Planning for the center is already under way. Davis, Birkner, and other campus administrators have worked closely with architects in recent months and began drawing up plans for the structure.

The building will house many of the college’s technical programs including automotive service technology; automotive collision repair technology; and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technology as well as a new industrial maintenance program. An open space for workforce training will be used to recruit new industry to the area as well as assist current industry with workforce development needs.

“We’re excited about sharing the plans and drawings that we’re putting together to individuals and businesses in hopes that they’ll be supportive financially of this project,” Davis continued.   “It will benefit students and citizens that we serve for years to come.”

To fund the project, UACCM is in the beginning phases of its “GIVE MEANING” capital campaign, a six-county fundraising effort led by a leadership team and volunteers. Through the campaign, the college will work to raise funds to construct the new Workforce Training Center and establish a maintenance fund for the new facility as well as support endowed scholarship funds.

Students come to UACCM from many counties in central Arkansas to get a quality, affordable education. As the college continues to grow, new programs and training opportunities and new industry partners will be added to better equip its students to enter the workforce. This new facility will present even more avenues for growth and expansion that will provide enhanced educational offerings at UACCM well into the future.   

For more information about UACCM or this project, visit