UA again opts out of faculty gun carry law


FORT SMITH — For the second consecutive year, the University of Arkansas opted out of a law that allows faculty and staff with concealed carry permits to bring weapons on campus.

The UA Board of Trustees unanimously voted to opt out Friday during the final session of a two-day meeting held at the Fort Smith campus.

“I discussed this with each of the chancellors, and there was unanimous agreement that the board should not allow concealed handguns on any of our campuses,” UA President Donald Bobbitt said.

Act 226, adopted during the 2013 legislative session, originally was written to require public colleges and universities to allow faculty and staff members who have concealed handgun permits to carry guns on campus. Facing opposition, the law’s sponsor, Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, amended the bill to allow institutions to decide in an annual vote whether to allow guns on campus.

UAFS Chancellor Paul Beran, who last year said he wasn’t “anti-gun,” but rather “pro safety,” said the trustees again “made the absolute correct decision.” Conversations concerning the law, he said, were “very short.”

“We don’t want it,” he said Friday.

Also Friday, the board agreed to increase its number of meetings a year from five to eight.

“There’s just going to be a lot of exciting things happening this year,” UA board chairman Jim von Gremp said. “We want to make sure we get a chance to fully participate.”

Earlier, von Gremp urged fellow board members to “look at the ways to try to squeeze expense dollars” this year, “knowing that every time we do that, we can save on the tuition that we have to charge our students.”

“Being diligent in determining the amount of tuition increases is something I hope we’ll look at,” he said.

Von Gremp also asked the board to consider new revenue streams.

“An example (Thursday) is when we passed the eVersity,” he said. “If that, fully operational, can generate revenue over expenses while still providing a real value-based education … we can take that money and spread it back to the institutions. That can go back and impact the students in our typical brick-and-mortar institutions.”

On Thursday, the board approved a plan to develop an online UA university that caters to adults and other nontraditional students. The online university was proposed in response to a resolution the board adopted in 2012 tasking Bobbitt to expand online education system-wide.