UAPB chancellor’s residence demolished; board to review options

The official residence of the chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff for more than four decades was reduced to rubble over the course of a three-week period this month.

U of A System spokesman Ben Beaumont said Thursday that the demolition of the home located off of University Drive on Jones Street adjacent to the UAPB campus was performed by Reynolds Construction at a cost of $18,150.

“UAPB facility staff had inspected the residence and found that it had serious foundation and water problems,” Beaumont said.

Records of any previous inspections of the residence were not immediately available, according to Beaumont.

The options for a replacement residence were discussed during the monthly meeting of the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees held May 22-23 in Stuttgart.

“The UA board agreed that it is more feasible to remove the old house and determine whether to build a new home or to find other options in the community,” Beaumont said.

U of A System President Donald R. Bobbitt updated the members of the UA Board Buildings and Grounds Committee on the situation at a May 22 meeting held at the UA Division of Agriculture Rice Research Center.

Beaumont said Thursday that the Legislative Review Committee favorably reviewed plans by UAPB to earmark $721,625 from university facility fee reserves for the demolition of the old house and the potential construction of a new residence on the same site.

Beaumont said the U of A Board will take formal action once an official plan for a new UAPB chancellor’s residence is submitted to it for approval.

“Aside from serving as the home of the chancellor and his family the chancellor’s residence is also a campus facility that is used for university events,” Beaumont said.

Beaumont said UAPB has selected a rental home for incoming chancellor Laurence B. Alexander and his family to live in until either a new home is constructed or an existing home is secured. UAPB will pay the $2,175 in monthly rent, which includes utilities, until a permanent home is ready to move into.

Alexander assumes his post as chancellor July 1.

Stephanie Sims, program specialist with the UAPB Museum and Cultural Center, said the recently demolished chancellor’s residence had served in that capacity since 1969 and was home to five chancellors.

“Lawrence A. Davis Sr. was the first to move into the home in 1969 and lived there until 1973,” Sims said. “Herman B. Smith lived there from 1974 until 1981. Lloyd V. Hackley was there from 1981 until 1985. Charles A. Walker lived there from 1986 until 1991. Finally Lawrence A. Davis Jr. called the residence home for the 21-year period from 1991 until 2012.”