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South Arkansas Community College's board of trustees voted unanimously Friday to hire Bentley Wallace as the school's next president.

Wallace currently serves as dean of the School of Technical and Professional Studies at the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College and was among three finalists for the position.

"We voted today to extend a formal offer," board vice chair Gary Griffis said Friday.

Wallace, who was raised in Mountain View and lives in North Little Rock, replaces Barbara Jones. He will assume duties Feb. 1.

The advertised salary range for the position was $180,000 to $200,000, Griffis said.

Wallace has extensive experience working with community colleges in Arkansas. He served seven years as director of business and transportation technology at Arkansas State University-Newport. In 2013, he became vice chancellor for economic development at UA-Pulaski Technical College and, in 2018, was promoted to serve as the first dean of the School of Technical and Professional Studies, one of three schools at the college.

"I am very honored to be selected as the next president of South Arkansas Community College, and I appreciate the thorough process and diligence provided by the search committee, the Board of Trustees and the search firm," Wallace said in a statement provided by the college.

"SouthArk is a fantastic college, and El Dorado is such a vibrant and exciting place," Wallace added. "As we visited El Dorado numerous times during the search process, everyone we met at the college, in restaurants and in shops were extremely friendly and welcoming. Our family is very excited as we plan our move to Union County and look forward to serving and getting to know our new friends and neighbors. We can't wait to be there."

Friday's decision came after a monthslong search.

Trustees hired RH Perry and Associates to assist in the process, and the firm narrowed the applicant pool to about 75 candidates. A search committee cut the field to 10, all of whom were interviewed remotely through video calls, according to Heath Waldrop, the college's marketing and communications coordinator.

From there, the list was narrowed to Wallace, Martin Reimer of Iowa Falls, Iowa, and L. Dean Fisher of Corning, N.Y.

A series of public forums last month gave the finalists an opportunity to visit El Dorado and speak directly with students and other stakeholders. Griffis said trustees decided Wallace was the best fit.

"The experience that he brings from being a part of the ASU system and the U of A system, and the mindsets that he has around student success, we believe he's the right pick," Griffis said. "That whole process, the ranking and the feedback that had everybody's input, was very much pointed toward Dr. Wallace."

Wallace will be the fifth president in the school's history.

"What he brought to the table was what we've been looking for in our next president of SouthArk," said board member Wayne Gibson, who also served on the search committee. "We certainly appreciate what Dr. Jones has done for the college in these past 10 years or so. She's been very instrumental in the progress that the college has made."

NW News on 01/06/2020

Print Headline: South Arkansas college board hires new president

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