Arkansas State University System names Robin Myers interim president

Robin Myers
Robin Myers

The Arkansas State University System board of trustees voted Friday to offer Robin Myers, who retired this summer after 11 years as chancellor of Arkansas State University-Mountain Home, the role of ASU System president on an interim basis, and he accepted.

Chuck Welch will become president and chief executive officer of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities next month after a dozen years as the system president. His final day is Jan. 15, 2024, and Myers will then take over and serve until June 30, 2024, or until Welch's longterm successor starts their tenure.

"I will contact [Myers] and begin the process of executing an agreement," Jerry Morgan, chair of the board of trustees, said during the meeting. Myers knows the personalities of the board, “where we’ve been [as a system], and where we’re going.”

Myers accepted the role, but terms were not yet “discussed or finalized,” Jeff Hankins, the ASU System’s vice president for strategic communications and economic development, said Friday afternoon.

Myers is chancellor emeritus at ASU-Mountain Home, and the Robin L. Myers Technical Education Campus is named in his honor. He was succeeded as chancellor by Bentley Wallace, who joined ASU-Mountain Home after serving as president of South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado since 2020.  

The position of ASU System president is "very attractive," so "lots of quality applicants" are expected, said trustee Price Gardner, who is leading the search for the board. "We hope to engage a search firm in the next couple of weeks" and "formally launch" the search in mid-January with a goal of hiring a new system president by early May, he said.

The search firm “will be contracted through the ASU System Foundation,” Gardner said. “We’re using private funds to fund the search at this time,” but he pledged transparency and to comply with Arkansas Freedom of Information Act requests.

As a board, “we are very pleased with our system and where we are, not looking to make significant change or overhaul operations,” Gardner said. “That would be a mistake.

“We don’t want to lose any of the momentum we have,” he added. “We have one of the strongest system staffs and [chancellor groups] in the country.”

Welch described his departure Friday as “tough” and “bittersweet,” but noted “there’s never perfect timing.”

His new job is “good for my family,” and he’ll still be able to influence policy, not only for schools in the ASU System or state of Arkansas, but nationwide, he said. He feels comfortable leaving now because the current group of chancellors is one “I wouldn’t trade for any in the country,” and the trustees are also outstanding.

“I’ve been blessed with board members [who] always wanted what was best for the system,” he said. “This job will sell itself if” candidates meet the board of trustees.

System highlights during Welch’s tenure include adding three new institutions, record-high enrollments at multiple campuses, increased graduation and retention rates, and the first female and first Black chancellors in system history, Welch said. “This has been the honor of my life, and we love every one of you.”

Welch, who was named the second president of the ASU System in November 2010 and officially began the position in April 2011, is “a walking encyclopedia of all things higher education, [and] we trust him,” said Trustee Christy Clark. “Our great loss is the [AASCU’s] gain.”

“Our loss is the country’s gain,” echoed Trustee Gary Harpole. “I can’t imagine the board will ever face a tougher assignment than finding Chuck’s successor.”

Welch’s replacement will need to be “a good teammate” for the other system and campus leaders and staff, as Welch has been, said Trustee Paul Rowton. “I’m very optimistic about where we can go, [because] we have a lot to sell.”

Though Welch is “leaving sooner than we wanted, we’re grateful” it’s after nearly 13 years, rather than two or three, added Rowton. He’s a “visionary” with a “knack for getting people to come to work and display their talents, and [he’ll] be missed.”

There will be a reception for Welch on Jan. 5, Morgan said. More details will be announced at a later date.

Welch has “made all of us have fun, [and] it’s been great to work with him,” Morgan added. “We’re fortunate to have his leadership,” and Welch has “left this place in a lot better position than when he got here.”

Welch, a native of Jonesboro, previously served as president of Henderson State University, chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, vice chancellor for academic affairs at Arkansas State University-Beebe, and dean of university studies at University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, according to the ASU System. He also worked at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has served as an instructor of education and political science at three different colleges in Arkansas.

Welch, who will move to Washington, D.C., where the American Association of State Colleges and Universities is based, has prior experience with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, serving as chair of its board of directors from 2019-21, according to the ASU System. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities is a higher-education association of 350 public colleges, universities and systems.

CORRECTION: The Arkansas State University System board of trustees voted Friday to offer Robin Myers the role of ASU System president on an interim basis. An earlier version of this story's headline incorrectly stated the post that was offered.

Upcoming Events