OPINION | NATE ALLEN: UA board gets it right with naming Robinson new chancellor

FAYETTEVILLE -- Regardless the outcome of tonight's Razorbacks vs. Ole Miss Rebels SEC game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, the University of Arkansas can celebrate this weekend in Fayetteville.

Finally the UA Board of Trustees broke its 5-5 deadlock and Wednesday unanimously named interim Chancellor Dr. Charles Robinson the permanent chancellor of the UA's flagship in Fayetteville.

Dr. Robinson has been interim chancellor since August, 2021 following the abruptly forced June departure of Joe Steinmetz, Board hired via Ohio State.

Dr. Robinson's bachelor and doctorate degrees stem from the University of Houston and his masters from Rice University. He became a rising UA star since his 1999 Fayetteville arrival as assistant professor of history. He was provost when asked to become interim chancellor.

Obviously he affected many as a teacher, administrator, speaker and just plain human being. His overwhelming support generated among students, faculty, and alums proved impressively too vast for the Board to ignore during its nationwide search.

That Dr. Robinson happens to be Black provides more than a bonus for a state whose university was founded in segregation.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist/historian Rex Nelson spoke optimistically Tuesday to the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce about Arkansas' statewide economic and cultural potential if, as he said citing Arkansas' too often blundered past, "we don't blow it."

It appears the UA and Arkansas got this one right.


That covid year granted sixth-year senior offensive tackle Dalton Wagner laments 5-5 Arkansas fighting for its bowl eligibility life in his final game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium underscores how far third-year Coach Sam Pittman has taken the Razorbacks.

"I'm not going to lie," Wagner said of his Fayetteville farewell preceding the Nov. 25 SEC season closer at Missouri. "I didn't see my career going out like this."

It cuts both ways. Last year's Outback Bowl winning Hogs soared 9-4.

Wagner endured seasons Arkansas dreamed to be 5-5. The Spring Grove, Ill. native redshirted as a 2017 freshman when the Bret Bielema Arkansas era ended 4-8 overall/ 1-7 in the SEC.

A giddy campaign compared to ill-prepared successor Chad Morris going 2-10, 2-10 overall and 0-8, 0-8 in the SEC.

Pittman, Bielema's 2013-2015 successful offensive line coach, was heralded debuting 3-7 for the 2020 entirely SEC schedule revamped by covid.

Two years later 5-5 gets grumbles even without injured offensive captains starting quarterback KJ Jefferson and Wagner in last Saturday's 13-10 loss to nationally No. 6 SEC West champion LSU.

"I'd rather have the expectations be high and take the criticism," Pittman said. "Than they go, 'Oh well, you played LSU to 13-10 and they're West Division champs.' We don't want any of that. We want to win"

So do Wagner and Jefferson pronouncing themselves healed to play tonight.

"I wouldn't trade it in for the world," Wagner said of his Arkansas experience. "There's one thing I want to get Saturday and that's one more win in Razorback Stadium."

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