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UAPB gets student-athletes center gift

by Special to The Commercial | April 28, 2021 at 2:58 a.m.
The University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff campus is shown in this undated file photo.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff announced a $100,000 pledge from Saracen Casino Resort and the Quapaw Nation to support the Student-Athlete Academic Center.

The center was established to assist student-athletes in improving academic outcomes, according to the news release Tuesday.

Located inside the J. Thomas May Fieldhouse, UAPB's Student-Athlete Academic Center provides a space for deeper learning and access to academic coaches. Saracen's pledge will provide the center with added support for resources to allow for continued academic, personal, and professional development, according to the release.

Interim Athletics Director Chris Robinson highlighted the value this has for student-athletes because of their unique schedules on and away from campus. He said the pledge conveys the message that academic success is important and attainable for all students.

"This gift comes at an exciting time for UAPB Athletics. Our student-athletes are on the rise, and we want to ensure their rise in athletics is parallel to their academics," Robinson said. "The center is a valuable resource that offers computers, meeting spaces and individual tutoring from the staff to ensure our student-athletes can achieve their academic goals and be prepared for successful careers."

"Our commitment is to be a true partner in this community," said Carlton Saffa, chief market officer with the casino. "Our desire is to do our part in making sure that we add to the growth of this region. UAPB has a proud tradition of educating students and expanding opportunity, and we intend to be a part of that continued success."

The funding is designed for students engaged with UAPB athletics to offer expanded learning opportunities, technology upgrades and personal guidance for achieving graduation success.

"As we build new partnerships and expand the university's impact throughout this state, the generosity of Saracen Casino Resort allows us to continue offering the quality education for our talented and highly diverse student population," said UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander. "The support by the Quapaw Nation is a welcome confirmation of the impact we are making."

The gift allows for broader implications for the university, said UAPB Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement George Cotton Sr.

"UAPB and Saracen Casino Resort clearly represent two of the driving forces in expanding educational and economic growth throughout this region," Cotton said. "The financial commitment by them to our university indicates their recognition that both organizations play a vital role in assuring the long-term strength and vitality of Jefferson County."

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