College of Arts, Letters, & Sciences

The new College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences on the Little Rock campus is the culmination of an extensive restructuring process that is realigning academic resources to best serve the state and region and meet UALR’s goal of becoming one of the top metropolitan, community-engaged, research universities among the 16 member states of the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB).

By melding the classic arts and letters disciplines with science programs, the college is the academic centerpiece of the campus. There are 139 faculty and 40 staff members in the 11 academic divisions of the new college, which include: Art; Biology; Chemistry; English; History; International Studies and Second Languages; Mathematics and Statistics; Music; Theatre and Dance; Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies; and Physics. The annual budget for the college is upwards of $15 million.

With enrollment of more than 12,000, UALR is among the most accessible and student-centered campuses in the University of Arkansas System, which includes five four-year institutions, five two-year schools, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In addition to the College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences, academic units at UALR include: College of Business; College of Education and Health Professions; Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT); College of Professional Studies; the Graduate School; and the William H. Bowen School of Law. The campus budget is $165 million.

Committed to its metropolitan research university mission, UALR is a driving force in Little Rock’s thriving cultural community and a major component of the city and state’s growing profile as a regional leader in research, technology transfer, economic development, and job creation. With more than one million people in the greater metro area, Little Rock draws newcomers and visitors from throughout the U.S. because of its stature as one of America’s most livable cities, known for world-class arts organizations and recreational amenities.

Furnish Selected as Dean of College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences.

Following a national search, Dr. Shearle Furnish (CV | Cover Letter)has been selected as the founding dean of the new College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

His appointment takes effect July 1.

UALR Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Zulma Toro said Furnish’s appointment is exactly what the university needs at this time, having served in a similar post in Ohio for the last seven years.

“As founding and current dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Youngstown State University, Dr. Furnish is well positioned to provide the leadership for this newly restructured college,” Toro said.

“An experienced academic leader, he will collaborate with our administration, faculty, and community leaders to ensure that this college is the backbone of our partnership with the community,” she said.

“I am delighted to be selected for this very special position in a strategically transformed academic structure,” Furnish said. “The assembly of an academic leadership team with several new members represents a significant opportunity to enliven the environment of teaching and learning, propel the institution, and enhance the experiences and opportunities of students and the communities of Little Rock,” he added.

Paula Casey, interim vice provost and dean of the UALR Graduate School, helped lead the campus search committee. Academic Search, a subsidiary of The American Academic Leadership Institute, assisted with the national search.

More about Furnish

Furnish was instrumental in the 2007 reorganization of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at Youngstown State University, which is today comprised of nine departments and as many interdisciplinary centers and programs. Under his leadership, the college added the master’s program in Applied Behavior Analysis and the first bachelor’s and now master’s program in gerontology.

As dean, Furnish also played various support and leadership roles including a plan for a collaborative convergence of media disciplines across two colleges and an NPR affiliate in a state-of-the-art renovated facility. During his tenure, three faculty members have been finalists for Fulbright Fellowships, and two were awarded and served in Japan and Turkey, respectively.

Furnish also contributed to a long-term strategic plan at Youngstown to address challenges in declining enrollment and retention. He chaired the committee on first-year experience and is currently chairing the committee on completion initiatives.

Furnish has also supported initiatives for distance education, international recruitment, and growth in graduate programming at Youngstown, which is already seeing improvements in student retention rates.

A professor of English, Furnish saw his most recent scholarly work placed in Traditio, an international journal dedicated to the study of ancient and medieval history, thought, and religion.

His three manuscript and analytical studies of Nicholas Love’s Mirrour, an adaptation of a Latin work devoted to the passion of Christ, grew out of research at the world-renowned Huntington Library in California. Furnish made his first visit there during a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar.

Furnish received a master’s degree in 1978 and doctorate in 1984 in English literature from the University of Kentucky in Lexington and a bachelor’s degree in 1975 in English literature from Transylvania University in Lexington.


The College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences is the culmination of an extensive restructuring process at UALR to realign academic resources to best serve the state and region. By melding the classic arts and letters disciplines with science programs, the college will be the academic centerpiece of the campus. Academic departments in the new college will include art; biology; chemistry; English; history; international studies and second languages; mathematics and statistics; music; theatre and dance; philosophy and interdisciplinary studies; and physics.