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The Arkansas State University System Board of Trustees today voted to name Dr. Robin Myers, chancellor emeritus at ASU-Mountain Home, to serve as interim system president effective Jan. 15.
The move comes ahead of the upcoming search for a successor to ASU System President Chuck Welch. Welch announced Nov. 14 that he would resign as system president after nearly 13 years effective Jan. 15 to move to Washington, D.C., and become president and chief executive officer of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Myers, who retired in July after 11 years as chancellor of ASU-Mountain Home, will not be a candidate for the permanent position.
Trustee Price Gardner of Little Rock, who is serving as chair of the Board of Trustees search process, said the search is expected to begin in January with a target hiring by May.
“We will be reviewing search firm options in the next two weeks,” Gardner said. “It’s an attractive position, and we expect to have a quality pool of candidates. We’re not looking for someone to make significant changes or overhaul things. We have one of the strongest system staffs and group of chancellors in the country. We’re hiring from a position of strength and don’t want to lose momentum.”
He said the search firm will be paid with private funds through a contract with the ASU System Foundation but that the board will comply with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act in every way and be transparent in the process. He added that a recent survey of system stakeholders to identify qualities sought in the next president generated 471 responses.
Welch, attending his final regular board meeting, said “the move is bittersweet, but we’re excited about the opportunities the new role will provide to be able to continue to influence higher education.”
He praised the work of the system team of chancellors and encouraged them to “don’t stop what you’re doing and continue to take risks” for the benefit of the institutions and students.
Welch said it had been “the honor of my life” to work in the ASU System and expressed gratitude for the successes, including record enrollments, higher retention and graduation rates, growing infrastructure, adding three institutions to the system and saving Henderson State University from the brink of closure. He also noted the hiring of the system’s first female chancellor and first Black chancellor during his tenure.
“Every board member I have worked with has loved this system and been incredibly supportive of me,” said Welch, adding that candidates for president will be attracted by a strong, personable board.
Trustees each spoke about Welch’s leadership, personality style and success during his tenure. Morgan said, “What he’s leaving is a place in a lot better position than when he got here.”
Myers became chancellor of ASU-Mountain Home on July 16, 2012. His innovative leadership provided the impetus for development of many new technical programs on the campus. He also oversaw a rebranding initiative that included a new logo and mascot, the Trailblazer owl, and guided the campus through the pandemic challenges. His commitment to community partnerships led to creation of a disc golf course, a walking and biking trail and a community holiday festival.
Board Chair Jerry Morgan of Jonesboro said the trustees chose Myers because of his familiarity with the system and its leadership, as well as his understanding of the system priorities.
In other business, Welch reported that the ASU System financial audit by Arkansas Legislative Audit showed no findings for Fiscal Year 2023, and he praised the campuses and their financial teams. The system’s comprehensive financial reporting – which is led by Myra Goodwin, controller at Arkansas State University – has been recognized for excellence for the past 12 years by the Government Finance Officers Association.
The board welcomed Dr. Trey Berry as the new chancellor at Henderson effective Jan. 1 and thanked Dr. Bob Fisher for his service as interim chancellor this fall.
The board elected Christy Clark of Little Rock to serve as chair in 2024. Steve Eddington of Benton will serve as vice chair, and Bishop Robert Rudolph Jr. of Bryant will serve as secretary.
In other business, the board approved:
• Construction of phase one of the $6.4 million Center for Health Sciences project at ASU-Newport. Supported by a $5.2 million federal grant and private funds, the 20,000-square-foot center will create an integrated, interprofessional health sciences facility to meet requests from workforce partners to expand existing nursing programs and other health care programs in demand.
• Establishment of A-State Qatar, a new off-campus location in Doha, Qatar. Existing classes, delivered by A-State faculty through synchronous courses via Zoom, are held at the Global Studies Institute and requires no new infrastructure by A-State. The site has averaged 34 students each semester since fall 2021 and is being designated as a new off-campus instruction center to comply with Arkansas Division of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission requirements.
• Revision of the A-State Museum collections policies to meet American Alliance of Museums accrediting standards.
• Naming the Lagomarcino Family Defensive Line Coach’s Office in the A-State Football Operations Building. Brian Lagomarcino, who passed away unexpectedly in 2022, was a defensive lineman in the 1980s and an alumnus of A-State.
• Naming the St. Bernards Medical Group Training Room in First National Bank Arena at A-State.
• Naming the Jeannie Myers Lindsey “Coach” Lindsey Basketball Court at ASU-Beebe. Lindsey served the men’s and women’s physical education programs at ASU-Beebe for 37 years.
• Henderson to offer a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in innovation and entrepreneurship. The new meta-major will replace the existing Bachelor of Business Administration general degree and adjusts core courses to meet current industry demands.
• ASU-Newport to offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in radiologic technology.
• ASU Mid-South to offer a Certificate of Proficiency in Teaching and a Technical Certificate in Teaching within the Associate of Science degree in education and to offer related courses on the campus of Academies of West Memphis (formerly West Memphis High School).
• An updated ASU System Internal Audit Charter that includes new sections on professional standards, independence and objectivity, and quality assurance.