SAU is pursuing a storefront on Magnolia Square that would offer apparel, gifts and space for continuing education workshops.

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In partnership with the Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, Southern Arkansas University is pursuing a storefront on the Magnolia Square that would offer Mulerider apparel, collegiate gifts, and could be home to a small space to be used for continuing education workshops.

SAU President Dr. Trey Berry shared an early rendering of what such a storefront may look like at the SAU Board of Trustees’ quarterly meeting held at SAU Tech on Thursday, May 11, 2017. The rendering of the façade of the store featured SAU’s signature blue and gold with a sign that read “SAU on the Square.”

“Two years ago, SAU and Magnolia came together on the Square at the inaugural Blue and Gold Day to celebrate the more than 100-year bond between the city and the University, and we are very excited to be working together to have a brick and mortar SAU presence on our historic downtown Square,” said Berry.

He said work would not begin on the location until this fall. However, many construction projects are underway and continuing on campus throughout the summer. Work continues on two new residence halls scheduled to open for the fall, West Hall and Eichenberger Hall. Construction of the new Alumni Center is also progressing in preparation for the first home Mulerider football game and Mulegating festivities on September 9, which will also be SAU’s annual Family Day.

SAU’s campus additions have been spurred by four straight years of record enrollments. Berry attributed two student-oriented themes for this unprecedented growth, both of which have been priorities across campus – SAU’s “culture of caring” and cost containment.

“The most important thing is our reputation for having a ‘culture of caring,’” Berry said. “I think that reputation is getting out across the region. SAU’s faculty and staff are at the core of why we are growing and prospering. Everyone working together is the reason behind our success.”

He reported that representatives from across campus met for months to lower expenditures for an efficient and balanced budget to present to the Board. The Board voted to approve both SAU’s and SAU Tech’s budgets for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

With state funding dropping to an all-time low of 25 percent of SAU’s budget, Berry said they were pleased to keep tuition and fee increases nominal. Tuition and fees for an SAU undergraduate student at 15 hours will be $4,173, which is an increase of 1.83 percent more than 2016-17.

“In 2015, SAU was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard as having the lowest cost and highest return of investment of any Arkansas four-year institution, and we strive daily to balance providing adequate resources for our high quality academic programs and campus life with keeping costs low for our students,” said Berry.

The SAU Board also passed a resolution to opt out of the concealed carry law, as the Board has done in the past, until the new law takes effect on September 1.

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