Dr. Joel E. Anderson became the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2003, bringing with him more than thirty years of university and community service. Dr. Anderson previously served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and as the founding Dean of the Graduate School.
During his time as dean and then provost, Dr. Anderson led in the initiation of numerous master’s and doctoral programs. In 2000, UALR was classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a Research University. When Dr. Anderson became chancellor, he said he wanted “UALR” and “partnership with the community” to be synonymous, and in 2010 UALR gained the Carnegie elective Community Engagement classification based on the university’s extensive and close relationship with the greater metropolitan community.
A professor of political science, Dr. Anderson was a charter member of the Arkansas Political Science Association and served as its third president and first journal editor. He also served for two years as President of the University Assembly. In 2010, Dr. Anderson served as a Scholar in Residence at the Center on Community Philanthropy at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. He served a decade as an accreditation Consult-Evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. He has served as a member of the executive committee of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and also the executive committee of the Sun Belt Conference.
Recently, Chancellor Anderson forged a new partnership with eStem Public Charter Schools to strengthen STEM education in Arkansas with a new high school on the UALR campus. He also helped secure a grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation for $20.3 million for a new Visual Arts and Applied Design center. Other highlights include the development of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, completion of a $100 million comprehensive campaign, and the expansion and enhancement of campus buildings and grounds. He has also led the university in establishing the Institute on Race and Ethnicity to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.
Dr. Anderson currently serves on the boards of the Arkansas Research Alliance, the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Mathematics and Science, and the Little Rock Downtown Partnership. He is a member of the boards of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce and Fifty for the Future. He is a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Little Rock and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Previous board service has included the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Society and the Heart of Arkansas United Way. Dr. Anderson also has served as board member and president or chair of the Arkansas 4-H Foundation, the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority, and the KLRE-KUAR Public Radio Board of Overseers.
Chancellor Anderson received the Jack Evans Regional Leadership Award in 2000 for leading the study that resulted in the merger of the Little Rock and North Little Rock water utilities. In 2008 he was inducted as an inaugural member of the 4-H Emerald Clover Society during the 4-H centennial celebration. In further recognition of his community leadership and service, he has received the Humanitarian of the Year Award of Just Communities of Arkansas (formerly NCCJ); the La Esperanza Award of the League of United Latin American Citizens; Portrait of Service Medallion at the 30th anniversary celebration of Watershed; and the District Director’s Special Award for Entrepreneurial Leadership from the U.S. Small Business Administration Arkansas Office.
Dr. Anderson is a graduate of Harding University (BA in political science), American University, (MA in international relations), and the University of Michigan (PhD in political science). He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.
Dr. Anderson grew up on a farm east of Swifton in northeast Arkansas. While in school at Swifton, he was a starter on the basketball team, Arkansas State 4-H Club President, and a National 4-H Achievement Winner. He and his wife, Ann, are members of the Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock. Dr. and Mrs. Anderson have three sons, three daughters-in-law, two granddaughters, and three grandsons.