Three candidates to compete for provost position
After a national search that has lasted nearly 15 months, UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson recently announced the names of three candidates for the university’s provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs position.
The candidates, who were chosen with the help of a national academic search firm include Wayne State University’s Jerry Herron, University of Florida’s Laurence Alexander, Wichita State University’s Zulma Toro-Ramos. The group orignally indcluded University of Missouri at Kansas City’s Kevin Truman, who announced his withdrawal from the candidacy last week.
The three finalists are scheduled to visit the campus sometime in late October, according to a Anderson.
“I would hope that we could have the new person in place by January,” Anderson said.
Anderson also said that he trusts the search committee in charge of finding a new provost to choose someone fit for the leadership role.
“We want to hire someone that can take charge of the academic division of the university and make a difference,” Anderson said. “I’m looking for someone that I can be optimistic will have good rapport with the faculty, and I would be looking for someone who embraces the engaged university. I’m optimistic that we have candidates that will exhibit those characteristics.”
The search began in July 2011 when former UALR Provost David Belcher stepped down from the position to take a job as chancellor of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. Sandra Robertson, UALR’s director of Budget, Planning and Institutional Research, has since served as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. When she assumed the temporary role, Robertson had six months of prior experience working as interim provost in 2003.
The first round of the search was restarted Feb. 14 after being narrowed down to three candidates, according to a story by The Forum. It was the chancellor’s decision to re-advertise the position and continue the search, ending the first round of the search, which was more than eight months long.
“I was pleased with the results of the Provost Search Committee’s efforts, but I determined that it was in the best interest of UALR to continue the search and expand the pool of candidates,” Anderson said in a prior interview with a Forum reporter. “Although each finalist brought strong credentials and experience, the view that the campus should continue the search was expressed by a significant number of persons who participated in the candidate interviews.”
Herron, who is the founding dean of Wayne State’s honors college, said he is interested in UALR and the surrounding community because of how similar it is to his current locale in Detroit. He also pointed out UALR partnerships such as with the Clinton Presidential Library and the Clinton School of Public Service and said that he is intrgued by the school’s community engagement.
“I’m quite impressed,” said Herron. I’ve been doing a little reading about the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and I’m especially impressed with the metropolitan hybrid model of the university that you all are following; it seems to be very healthy, very invigorating.”
Anderson identifies the provost’s role as the leader of the vice-chancellors, as well as a person that takes charge when the chancellor is away. The UALR website describes the role as one that leads six colleges and two schools, including the colleges of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Business, Education, Professional Studies, Engineering and Information Technology, and Science. The two overseen by the provost are UALR’s graduate school and the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.
“I like what you’re doing, because I’m doing it to,” Herron said. “I’m honored to be included in this search. It’s a fine university and I look forward to my visit there.”
Funding for the provost search has been provided by a grant from the George W. Donaghey Foundation Board.