Provost updates UA-Fayetteville faculty on dean searches, class and compensation study

The two towers of Old Main are visible in the foreground on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in this June 18, 2023 file photo. Old Main houses classrooms and the offices of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Buildings partly visible in the background include Vol Walker Hall and, behind that, the David W. Mullins Library. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler)
The two towers of Old Main are visible in the foreground on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in this June 18, 2023 file photo. Old Main houses classrooms and the offices of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. Buildings partly visible in the background include Vol Walker Hall and, behind that, the David W. Mullins Library. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. Wampler)


FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is poised to name finalists for a pair of college deanships in the first two months of the next calendar year.

Candidates should be announced -- and likely visit campus for interviews -- in January for the role of dean of the Sam. M. Walton College of Business, Provost Terry Martin told the university's faculty senate during a meeting Wednesday. The same plan holds true for the position of dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, albeit in February, rather than January.

Fulbright College is the largest and most diverse academic unit on campus with three schools, 16 departments, and more than 30 academic programs and research centers, according to the university. It also provides the core curriculum for all undergraduates.

Jason Battles, dean of Libraries, chairs the search committee. Kathy Sloan, a former chair of the Department of History and a faculty member since August 2004, has been serving as interim dean since last year, appointed when the erstwhile dean, Todd Shields, departed to become chancellor of Arkansas State University.

Brent Williams began serving as interim dean of the business school Aug. 14, the same date former Dean Matthew Waller set for himself this spring to step down and return to a faculty position as a professor of supply chain management. Waller took over as dean in the spring of 2016 after serving as interim dean since 2015, and Ann Bordelon -- executive vice chancellor for Finance and Administration -- is chairing the search for Williams' replacement.

Williams, who received his Ph.D. in business administration -- with a concentration in supply chain management -- from UA-Fayetteville, served as senior associate dean and Garrison Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Management in the Walton College, overseeing the business school's academic departments, student success initiatives and insights and analytics function, as well as leading Walton College's strategic planning process and several strategic initiatives, according to the university.

He has chaired the Department of Supply Chain Management and led the early development of the McMillon Innovation Studio and Walton College in Little Rock.

Under Waller's leadership, Walton College developed seven new master programs, established myriad endowments, and created four new online bachelor's degree programs. In recent years, the Walton College of Business has received plaudits from U.S. News and World Report magazine, including being named one of the "Best Business Schools" and having one of the "Best Undergraduate Business Programs."

CLASS AND COMPENSATION STUDY

Martin said Wednesday that the university's class and compensation study is currently in the "campus-wide" evaluation stage, "trying to make sure all classifications make sense from one college to another."

The "compensation" piece will be part of the university's annual budgeting process, Martin said. "We won't be able to solve all problems in one year; it'll take us a little time to get there."

As part of an emphasis on making the university an employer of choice, the university announced a classification and compensation project -- which is being led by Michelle Hargis Wolfe, who was hired earlier this year as the university's first "chief people officer" -- for staff roles last year and has partnered with Huron Consulting Group for the work, according to the university.

UA-Fayetteville has also sought feedback from stakeholders across campus to revamp the university's job classification architecture for staff roles and to evaluate the university's compensation structure.

The project team has been working with a variety of subject-matter experts across campus to establish job families for staff roles that more consistently represent responsibilities and ultimately create clearer paths to development and career advancement, according to the university. The team is also refining the university's compensation philosophy to better attract, inspire, and retain talent.

BUILDING PROJECTS UPDATE

Via a power point presentation, Scott Turley, associate vice chancellor for facilities, updated the senate on several building projects at the university, which has doubled in enrollment -- to more than 32,000 students -- over the past two decades.

Interior and exterior renovation of the fine arts building is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2024, according to Turley. The building dates back to 1951, and exterior landscape and public spaces will be restored to historic condition, while classrooms, the concert hall, and the library will be upgraded.

The Fine Arts Center, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, gained instant acclaim when opened due to its design by famed architect Edward Durell Stone, and the renovation will remain true to Stone's original intent while restoring the edifice's place as a leading light for arts not only on campus, but in the community, according to Jeannie Hulen, assistant dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

The renovation "has been a long time coming," and it's "another step forward as the university and Northwest Arkansas continue to grow as a nationally recognized" area for the arts.

The building is beloved by many alumni and community members, so it is paramount to "stay true to Stone's vision" while also updating it for the needs of contemporary -- and future -- students, according to Andra Liwag, Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences senior director of communications. "We're very conscientious of that, and it'll be the best of both worlds: a historic building with modern amenities."

The Institute for Integrative & Innovative Research (I³R) is set for completion in August, according to Turley.

The Institute -- located on the other side of Dickson Street from the Bell Engineering Center and the John A. White Jr. Engineering Hall -- will empower "university-wide multidisciplinary research and collaboration," according to Delia Garcia, I³R's director of Strategic Communications & Engagement. Flexible and state-of-the-art, "I³R will introduce the needed high-quality research and development space for faculty and students, as well as industry partners."

The NANO Clean Room project will fit out a 3,600-square-foot clean room with an additional 3,600 square feet for mechanical equipment, according to Turley. Set for completion this month, the clean room will "support research into fabrication and characterization of nanomaterials or semiconductor devices."

The two-phase renovation of Mullins Library -- the main research library for the university -- is set for completion in the summer of 2025, according to Turley. The first phase focused on floors three and four, while the current phase concentrates on improving floors one and two.

Named for David Wiley Mullins, then the university's president, the library was built in 1968 to replace Vol Walker Hall as the university's main library, and it's one of five libraries on campus, but "by far the largest," according to Kelsey Lovewell Lippard, director of public relations for University Libraries. The renovation is needed not only to modernize the library, but also because student enrollment was half of what it is today during the last major renovation in 1997.

The new national Multi-User Silicon Carbide Research and Fabrication Facility (MUSiC) is set to open next fall, according to Turley.

It will be "a magnet for the economic development we seek," according to Alan Mantooth, an electrical engineering professor spearheading the project. "There's not another facility like this in the world."

It is "purpose-built for fabricating semiconductors" and is filling a manufacturing need, as it can be utilized for low-volume prototyping before production, according to Mantooth, a Distinguished Professor and 21st Century Research Leadership Chair in Engineering at UA-Fayetteville. "Companies are lining up to have offices" at the facility, as silicon carbide "can do what silicone cannot do," including holding up to extremely high temperatures, thereby "making possible [what has been] impossible."

The Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation is scheduled to open in the spring of 2025, according to Turley.

The center is being designed by Grafton Architects, a Dublin-based firm whose co-founders won the 2020 Pritzker Prize, considered one of the top prizes -- if not the top -- in the field of architecture, according to the university. It will be located not on the main UA-Fayetteville campus, but, rather, in the university's new Windgate Art and Design District on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the south part of the city, and when it opens, it will join -- among other university buildings -- the Studio and Design Center, which opened for classes in January.

The Timberlands Center will house the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design's graduate program in timber and wood. It will also be an epicenter for its multiple timber and wood initiatives, as well as the home for the school's current design-build program and an expanded digital fabrication laboratory.