Campus Report to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees; November 22, 2013

Campus Report – Restructuring
Joel E. Anderson, UALR Chancellor
University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Meeting
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Campus
November 22, 2013

Welcome to the UALR campus. It is always an honor to have the Board of Trustees meet here.

Some of the nation’s most vibrant, urban-serving, universities are found in metropolitan centers from Dallas to Baltimore—in the 16 states of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Our goal, as articulated recently by our Provost, Dr. Zulma Toro, is to be one of the top such universities in the SREB region.

In order to advance that goal and serve the State of Arkansas more effectively, we are reorganizing the institution and re-deploying our resources.

We recognized the need to re-shape the university to operate more successfully and more responsively within its current and future environment.

Times are really changing for universities.

–College graduates are more important than ever to the well-being of society.
Universities are expected to produce more of them.

–But state funding pays a steadily decreasing part of the university’s expenses.

–Competition for students is more intense than ever.

–Student bodies are becoming more multi-racial, more multi-ethnic, older, more in need of financial assistance, with varying levels of preparation, and with diverse goals.

–Technology is radically changing the way we do business, both in the bursar’s office and in the classroom.

Given all the changes in the environment of higher education, we need universities that are both stable and nimble–and as efficient as possible.


What we are achieving is A New UALR.

We have made a large number of changes throughout campus, and I am confident that when the changes have all settled in over the next two or three years, people will say, “Things are really different! And they will applaud the change.”

Our existing structure was mostly put in place a quarter-century ago. As all organizations do, it evolved incrementally. From time to time a unit was added here or there, and some other units were eliminated or combined. These individual changes occurred for a variety of good reasons—in response to a particular new circumstance, or to take advantage of the talents of a particular employee, or sometimes to work around a problem. But such changes have a way of becoming permanent, and they accumulate in ways that can result in both duplication of resources, inefficient relationships between units, and gaps in services.

From time to time it is productive to step back, mentally disaggregate the organization, then sort and re-combine in ways that better fit today’s realities.

That is what we have done.


In the existing structure, you will see nine direct reports to the chancellor: seven vice chancellors, the director of communication, and the director of athletics.

I am certainly not going to go through the details, but a comparison of the existing and new organizational charts will quickly show a number of major changes.


Note the reduction to four vice chancellors and the director of athletics…as well as numerous other changes.

Note the reduction in direct reports to four vice chancellors plus the director of athletics.

To highlight the major administrative changes, Information Technology Services is now in Finance and Administration. Communications has moved to the Advancement Division. Student Services has moved into the Academic Affairs Division under the Provost.

Let me direct attention to the right side of the organizational chart: Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, which needs another slide of its own.


Over on the right side showing the new academic structure, I want to call attention to the Community Connection Center. Later I will say a word about it.

If you look to the left edge, you will see the seven colleges and schools: Four of them are the same, three embody a re-configuring of four that previously existed.


The Provost’s new college structure, within the Academic Affairs Division, creates one college—the College of Arts, Letters, and Science—that administers the general education core.

In addition to the Law School and Graduate School, there are four colleges with professional orientations:
–Education and Health Professions
–Engineering and Information Technology
–Social Sciences and Communication

Consistent with the Provost’s restructuring plan, each of the schools and colleges has begun an internal process that will be completed later this year—aimed at reviewing their internal processes and relationships and implementing the new organization.

Now I want to comment on three emphases that the new structure will support.

We are doubling down on Student Success and Community Engagement.


One major feature of the reorganization is the bringing together of academic and student service functions under the provost.

Students deserve our support inside and outside the classroom. This consolidation will help foster a culture of student success among both faculty and staff. It will remove barriers to working together and strengthen collaboration and mutual respect.

In order to serve our students to the fullest and to do our part in increasing the state’s number of college graduates, doubling down on student success is imperative.


Community engagement is a real strength of UALR, as evidenced by our inclusion in the national Carnegie category of Engaged Universities. Earlier this week at the Investiture of UCA’s new president, between events I talked with the Mayor of Conway, and he commented on UALR’s strong record of working with the community.

UALR is unique among the comprehensive universities in Arkansas because of our location in the capital city—this is where there are the greatest opportunities for community engagement by our faculty, staff, and students.

Through engagement activities, through service learning, our students learn to be team members and problem-solvers, gain leadership experience, and become more community minded. They will benefit in their careers from the university’s ability to connect the classroom with the community. College graduates who leave with experience in their chosen fields or professions enjoy better job prospects.

The investment the state makes in the education of such students will be more than matched by the value they will add back to their communities.

The Community Connection Center will be one of the jewels of the reorganization. It will be a central coordinating center making connection to the community with UALR faculty, staff, and students—and vice versa. It will pull together the broad spectrum of community engagement activities already taking place into a single hub—both leveraging resources and maximizing interdisciplinary work on community problems.


Over the last decade both the state and private donors have invested significantly in UALR’s research capability.

In recognition of the importance of research and innovation to the economic development strategy of the state, we have reconfigured a leadership position to form the position of Vice Provost for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development.

This position will high light our research presence and provide leadership and support for research activities across campus. The Vice Provost will also oversee our Nanotechnology Center and our commercialization office.


In your agenda book I have provided information that is in your agenda book regarding the wide and deep process over the period from February to October. Everyone on campus who was interested had repeated opportunity for input.

Provost Zulma Toro provided thoughtful and strong leadership throughout the process.

I cannot say enough good things about the UALR faculty. I have often said that the UALR faculty is one of the most flexible and open-minded anywhere. They have always been willing to consider and try new approaches to their work. I say this not only on the basis of my knowledge of instituions in this state but also on the basis of what I have seen across the North Central region as a consultant-evaluation for the Higher Learning Commission.

At the end of the process, what emerged was organic. It was not handed down from the top.

As a result of the restructuring, along with other recent initiatives, UALR is on course to become a leader among metropolitan universities in transformative academic programs, research, and community engagement.

We are not doing more with less, we are doing things differently.

This reorganization maximizes the unique strengths of UALR, eliminates barriers to student success, and puts the university on firm footing for the future.


The Provost has articulated our vision as follows:

“UALR will be one of the top metropolitan, community-engaged, research universities among the 16 member states of the Southern Regional Education Board.”

We feel we owe that to the people of Arkansas.

Our new structure will enable us to speed that process. And along the way we will be…

“Building the university our community and state need—grounded in the capital city and global in reach.”