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OPINION | WALLY HALL: UA doesn’t have to look far for new chief

by Wally Hall | October 5, 2022 at 2:41 a.m.

It could be the biggest hire in the history of the University of Arkansas System board of trustees ,which is split 5-5 on who should be the next chancellor.

Charles Robinson, the interim chancellor, and Daniel A. Reed, provost at Utah, are the two splitting the votes, according to a source.

That's a source who is not on the board of trustees. Mum's their name and silence is their game, and that was expected because they were in an executive meeting last Friday discussing personnel.

Robinson took over running the university 13 months ago, and it is a better place now than when he took over the critical role of leadership, something along with the ability to build a team that he has demonstrated many times in his career.

Robinson became the interim a few weeks after Joseph Steinmetz "retired" suddenly after a board meeting. Bill Kincaid was the interim but returned to his role as senior managing associate general counsel.

Robinson didn't see the job as holding someone's hand but as an opportunity to make the UA a better place.

Before getting into that and to keep with the sports theme, Robinson is a huge supporter of all Razorback athletics and was largely responsible for one potentially great athlete choosing Arkansas recently.

Robinson is African-American, and when the athlete and his family visited, they were impressed that the UA had a Black chancellor.

Most college and universities could use a diversity boost to their reputation.

Not only could an African-American chancellor help recruit athletes but students as well.

Since becoming the interim chancellor, Robinson has met with every social and academic group, as well as any other campus organization.

He has an open-door policy for students and faculty.

He wants to bring people to the UA whose family history has not been academic. As vice chancellor for student affairs, he raised $10 million for first-generation scholarships.

He was a leader in other projects and helped raise more than $100 million.

Robinson wants to make the UA and the state of Arkansas better, and so far he has.

As far as academics, he is fully qualified with a bachelor's degree and doctorate from the University of Houston and a master's degree from Rice.

He is the author of three books.

He came to Arkansas in 1999 as an assistant professor and worked his way up to provost and senior vice chancellor.

He calls Arkansas home.

Robinson walks the UA campus so can engage with students, and when he needs to travel he drives his own vehicle.

Apparently the only thing missing from his resume is a background in science, and there are some board members or perhaps Donald Bobbitt, the president of the UA system, who like science.

What the UA doesn't need is someone who wants to make it into another University of Texas and Fayetteville into Austin.

The UA and Fayetteville are better than that.

Reed, 65, is a computer scientist with a varied and accomplished background that includes a stint at Microsoft.

He is actually from Mammoth Spring but left 47 years ago for college and didn't come back.

A month ago, Bobbitt announced four finalists for the job. The other two were Jay Akridge from Purdue and Cynthia Young from Clemson.

Last Friday was a special board meeting called with only one thing on the agenda, and the members came away with a split vote.

It is up to them to find the right man, but if it was an election among the students, there's no doubt the chancellor is already on campus.

Print Headline: UA doesn’t have to look far for new chief


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