Southeast Arkansas College officials hope the college’s new welcome center and administration building will be a welcome mat for students and the community.

Southeast Arkansas College officials hope the college’s new welcome center and administration building will be a welcome mat for students and the community.


"When you get to the center, you know you’ve arrived at SEARK," President Stephen L. Hilterbran said. "It will help us become more readily identifiable and it will help our enrollment."


SEARK and the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce unveiled the new center with a Business After Hours event Thursday, and all of the college’s board members helped in cutting the ribbon in front of the welcome center.


The 9,000-square-foot center — which cost about $2 million — is equipped to handle a variety of tasks and events.


The center has two standard classrooms, a large training room that has the capability to be divided into two separate rooms and a state-of-the-art board room. None of these rooms are truly limited to one specific use, though, Hilterbran said. He said the center will be available for civic organizations to use, as well as other community groups.


"We tried to make it as much for utility use as possible," he said. "There are many different things we can do with the space inside the center. Now that we’ve opened up these doors, we’ll be able to house a lot of people."


The now complete project began as only one wing — the college simply needed a place to house its computers. But after enough money was invested and set aside by the board, it was able to design and put in motion a plan for a new computer center, as well as the welcome center and administration building where the computers are now housed.


"The computer center has tremendous possibilities," Hilterbran said. "Everything the college does electronically is centered here. We’ve put in a lot of bells and whistles that are pretty cutting edge."


Paul Bennett, a SEARK board member, was quick to mention the fiscal responsibility of the president and former board members in making their idea a reality. He also noted the vast changes the college has undergone, and said the new welcome center and administration building are the perfect capstone to SEARK’s latest developments.