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Officials gather to open Marion Berry Parkway; Gov. Beebe presents $6 million check for Humanities and Social Sciences Building


Cold weather and melting snow did not dampen the excitement at Arkansas State University Tuesday morning as state, local and university officials gathered to officially open the Marion Berry Parkway and then receive a surprise release of a check for $6 million dollars toward continued construction of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building.

“Arkansas State University has $4 million in hand and $4 million in the ground,” said Dr. Dan Howard, ASU interim chancellor. “This $6 million will go toward treating the steel structure, plumbing and the construction of an envelope surrounding the current existing structure. This is a magnificent contribution to the central core of our university.”

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Parkway, which crosses over the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks southwest of the ASU campus, the group adjourned to the eighth-floor Board Room in the Dean B. Ellis Library to watch Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, along with Sen. Bookout, present the ceremonial check to university officials.

“This is one of the most exciting days in the history of our state,” Dr. Charles (Chuck) Welch, ASU System President told a luncheon crowd which included former Rep. Marion Berry, Sen. Paul Bookout, members of ASU’s Board of Trustees and additional university administrators.

Gov. Beebe acknowledged and commended Sen. Bookout and Arkansas legislators for their work in securing the funds. Groundbreaking for the new facility was held in 2008 after Beebe announced a $4 million release by the state of Arkansas toward construction of the building, which is located east of Wilson Hall. Prior to that, members of the Arkansas General Assembly had appropriated $3.2 million for planning, designing and other necessary steps before construction could begin.

In April 2011, another release of $4 million in General Improvement Funds became available and is being held pending additional funds. The first phase of construction, including the foundation and steel superstructure, has been completed.

Sen. Bookout, who helped spearhead the drive to obtain the funds along with fellow state senators Robert Thompson and Gilbert Baker, said of the contribution, “This is a labor of love and long commitment. We need to give back to the community and make it a better place for our kids to live. The real celebration will be when we cut the ribbon for this building.”             

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