Arkansas State University Announces Plans Regarding Kays Home
Arkansas State University-Jonesboro Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson and ASU System President Dr. Charles Welch announced today that plans have been formulated which could result in the Victor C. Kays Home remaining on the Jonesboro campus. Campus and system administrators have been considering the fate of the home as plans for new sorority housing are finalized.
The plan announced by Hudson and Welch calls for the sorority houses to still be constructed on Aggie Road with the Kays Home remaining in its current location for at least one year. Removal of other properties and construction of the sorority houses will begin immediately. Other details of the plan include:
- Executive Assistant to the Chancellor Tom Moore has been appointed to work with individuals and groups who are interested in raising funds to permanently save the home.
- No university funds or ASU Foundation funds will be committed to the renovation of the Kays Home.
- A permanent endowment fund must be established for ongoing maintenance and operations of the home.
- If sufficient funds are not raised by June 1, 2013, the home will be removed and administrators will recommend to the Board of Trustees that the space be converted into a plaza named for former President Kays.
- All decisions regarding renovation of the home and permanent uses for the home will be determined by university administrators.
- Hudson will create and appoint a campus Heritage Committee to inventory historical and aesthetic assets of the university to help inform future decisions.
In recent weeks, multiple news media reports have surfaced regarding the possible removal of the home. Feedback from retired and active faculty and staff members and alumni has also been received by university administrators. While certain articles have cited a major rift and substantial protest, correspondence received by university administrators has been rather minimal. Dr. Welch indicated that he received 25 emails, three phone calls, and three letters from interested individuals. The ASU-Jonesboro Faculty Senate also adopted a resolution requesting a six-month moratorium before any action is taken on the V. C. Kays Home and surrounding properties. More than 400 students and alumni attended a recent luncheon for the sorority house groundbreaking.
“While feedback from university stakeholders has been limited, we all recognize the important contribution that President Kays made to our university. From the beginning our stance has been that we are seeking the most cost-effective ways to move the campus forward and provide the strongest university possible,” Dr. Welch said. “We ultimately decided to allow interested individuals the opportunity to secure external funding to renovate the home. While we are not in a position to commit university funds, I am hopeful that our interested employees and alumni will be successful in their fundraising efforts.”
From 1910 to 1943, Victor C. Kays served as Principal and President of the institution that later evolved into Arkansas State University. Kays built the Tudor-style home on private property adjacent to the campus in 1936. The home was later sold to the university in 2004, marking the first time the home was actually located on university property.
Construction of the Greek housing will mark the first time in university history that sorority chapters have had individual housing. In announcing plans to construct the housing, university officials pointed to growth potential in Greek membership on the Jonesboro campus similar to significant growth in Greek membership at campuses in Arkansas and across the nation. The university will construct and own the facilities for those sororities that have signed lease agreements guaranteeing occupancy and additional support from the national chapters for common spaces. The bonds issued to construct the sorority houses will be repaid by revenues generated by the lease agreements.
All active Panhellenic and National Pan-Hellenic chapters were given the opportunity to construct a home. Following interactions with local and national organizations, four chapters elected to proceed with the project. A fifth sorority, currently seeking to regain active status, has recently indicated an interest in participating in the project as well.
“This plan provides us all an opportunity to sustain an important aspect of the sense of place of this campus while moving forward with our commitment to support the growth of our sororities,” Dr. Hudson said.