Many colleges and universities have a defining architectural symbol that the school can use as an identifying icon. A clock tower, a library or an old, recognizable building may serve a secondary purpose of being a longstanding image associated with the institution.
Arkansas State University-Beebe does not currently have a definite symbol or icon, but the school is raising funds to create a central landmark on campus through the rebuilding of a structure destroyed in a storm several years ago.
When ASU-Beebe was hit by a tornado in April 2011, several trees were downed, and the arch across the street from State Hall was flattened when an oak tree fell on top of the arch.
“We don’t have a real icon at ASU-Beebe, and that arch kind of served that purpose,” said Keith Pinchback, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at the school. “We don’t have an Old Main. We don’t have an ASU library. This new arch would be something to fill that role.”
Pinchback said insurance did not cover the arch because it was considered an aesthetic element, so the school is raising money to replace the arch with a layered brick arch. The estimated cost is $45,000 to $50,000, and Pinchback said nearly $20,000 has been raised in the past year since the campaign began.
The history of the original arch is vague, but Pinchback said researchers at the school believe it was built within a few years of the school becoming part of Arkansas State College in 1955. The first historical document showing the arch on campus is the school’s 1961 yearbook.
Since that 1961 photo, the arch appears in other documents and records, with students gathered under it for pictures year after year.
The arch was made of two stone pillars with iron work across the top with the words “Arkansas State” in red letters. Originally, the arch had an Indian and the letters “JC.” The Indian was a reference to the ASU Indians mascot, and the letters signified that the Beebe campus was a “junior college.”
An artistic rendering of the proposed replacement shows a brick arch with the words “Arkansas State University Beebe” against the top of the brick arch.
Pinchback said he has brought the arch fund to the attention of graduates at various reunions, and alumni have been active in raising money to replace the arch.
“We are the oldest two-year college in the state, and we’ve got a lot of interest in rebuilding the arch,” he said.
In addition to raising money for the new arch, school officials are also looking for more information about the history of the original arch, including specifics about when or why it was built.
To give to the Rebuild the Arch Fund at ASU-Beebe or to offer insight into the history of the original arch, contact the Institutional Advancement office at (501) 882-8855 or mail a donation to P.O. Box 1000, Beebe, AR 72012. Gifts to the college are tax deductible.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.