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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Begin chancellor search in UA's backyard

by Wally Hall | June 27, 2021 at 2:20 a.m.

If ever there was a time for the University of Arkansas board of trustees to get on the same page, or at lease a majority of the members, it is now.

The trustees need to find a new chancellor. The old one, Joe Steinmetz, disappeared 24 hours after his final meeting with them, leaving potential embarrassment hanging in the shadows.

Steinmetz was found by UA System President Donald Bobbitt and a search committee. This time, the whole team needs to get involved to find the right person.

Apparently not enough vetting was done with Steinmetz. To be on the safe side, perhaps the search for a new chancellor should not include anyone from Ohio State.

Yes, the words national search are going to be used, but truth be told there are qualified people on campus. People who have been a part of the UA System long enough to know how it runs and how Arkansans think.

Steinmetz made a couple of bus stops at some small towns and declared he got it. He didn't.

Understand that this is being written almost exclusively from a sportswriter's view, but the Razorbacks are the tail that wags the dog.

As far as academics and all of that, they need to find someone like UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, who runs one of the finest teaching hospitals in the country and still knows when and how to be a physician.

But leave him alone. He's right where he needs to be for now.

The UA needs to find someone more like former chancellor Dan Ferritor, who was smart enough to let Frank Broyles do what he did best -- run the athletic department.

John White followed Ferritor, and he was a brilliant man who wanted to be as powerful and respected as Broyles.

G. David Gearhart was next and went the opposite way, leaving Jeff Long to run athletics without supervision. We all know how well that worked out.

Steinmetz didn't appear to really like football, but he apparently had other hobbies that kept him busy until he was told to get gone.

So before they spend countless hours and a ton of money in a nationwide search, it might behoove the trustees to do a campuswide search.

That should start with Provost Charles Robinson, who has been on campus for almost 25 years and reached his lofty position during some rocky times surrounding the three previous chancellors.

Word is he likes athletics and understands its role at Arkansas.

Bill Kincaid is the current acting chancellor, and while no one knows if he is even interested in being the permanent chancellor, he has been a viable part of the UA law team for more than 20 years.

Matt Waller is dean of the Walton College of Business, having come to Arkansas in 1994 and worked his way up. With a background in business, he knows what the Razorbacks bring to campus.

Todd Shields is the dean of the Fulbright College (he didn't name the college or build any statues), having arrived at Arkansas when the Razorbacks were winning the men's basketball NCAA Tournament. It didn't take a lot of talking to get him to take the job.

Scott Varady has served as legal counsel of the UA for 20 years before taking on the additional responsibility of executive director of the Razorback Foundation. His passion for the Razorbacks is unquestioned.

Obviously there is more to being a chancellor than worrying about the Razorbacks, but this is a sports column.

The main thing is the UA board of trustees is made up of 10 very smart people who need to be a team involved in the search for the right person to lead Arkansas out of the shadow it is in right now.

Print Headline: Begin chancellor search in UA's backyard


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