Arkansas State names finalists for chancellor’s position at Jonesboro campus with two having ties to Arkansas

June 20-26, 2022

By The Daily Record Staff 


The Arkansas State University Chancellor Search Advisory Committee and Arkansas State University (ASU) System President Dr. Charles L. Welch on June 10 announced four candidates have accepted invitations to formally interview for the position of chancellor that will be vacated at the end of June.


The list of finalists for the chancellor’s position at Arkansas’ second-largest university and the flagship of the ASU System includes two candidates that already have ties to Arkansas. They are Dr. Lawrence Kimbrough, who formerly led Philander Smith College in Little Rock from 2004 to 2012, and Dr. Todd Shields, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, is also a finalist. 


The other two finalists to serve as chancellor on the Arkansas State University (A-State) campus in Jonesboro are Dr. Karen Petersen, dean of the Henry Kendall College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Tulsa, and Dr. Lance Tatum, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, chief academic officer and provost at Troy University in Troy, Ala. 


One of the finalists is expected to replace Dr. Kelly Damphousse, who announced his resignation in late March as chancellor of A-State. After completing five years of service at the system’s flagship university in Jonesboro, he will step down from the position on June 30. Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, earlier announced Damphousse has been named as the sole finalist to replace Dr. Denise Trauth as president on July 1.


The invitations to formally visit the campus and interview for the position later this month came after recent meetings Welch conducted with the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee. The advisory committee, consisting of 22 members representing faculty, staff, students and community representatives, reviewed 44 applications for the position.


“We received a deep pool of quality applicants, and the four finalists are outstanding higher education administrators with impressive backgrounds in teaching and research who would each bring unique experiences to Arkansas State,” Welch said. “Our constituencies will have an opportunity to visit with them later this month, and we will welcome feedback.”


Each finalist will meet with the advisory committee, faculty, staff, students and community members during interview sessions. Individuals attending the interview sessions will have an opportunity to submit feedback regarding each candidate to the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee. Following the final interview, the advisory committee will meet to discuss the candidates and provide feedback to Welch, who said he hopes to install a new chancellor by July 1. 


Whoever the A-state search committee chooses as its next chancellor will face a myriad of post-pandemic challenges. Last week, the ASU System Board of Trustees approved a $341.5 million budget that includes a 4.6% tuition hike for the upcoming fall semester as its flagship university in Jonesboro and other Arkansas campuses.


The tuition increase comes a month after the ASU System Board of Trustees on May 5 moved forward with a reorganization plan for Henderson State University in Arkadelphia that will provide over $5.3 million in savings over the next two years.


For the upcoming 2023 fiscal year that begins July 1, Arkansas State in Jonesboro budgeted $208.3 million, an increase of 2% from last year, with a 4.6% increase in annualized tuition and fees. Henderson budgeted $51.5 million, which is a decrease of $17 million or 25% compared with a year ago, with no increase in tuition and fees. Tuition and fee rates will rise 3.3% at ASU-Beebe, 4.1% at ASU-Mountain Home, 2.2% at ASU Mid-South, 3.4% at ASU-Newport and 2.9% at ASU Three Rivers.


The fiscal year 2023 budget also includes a 2% merit salary increase for all non-classified and faculty; a 2% cost of living adjustment for classified employees; the transitioning of numerous positions from classified to non-classified status; the funding of promotion, rank, and tenure pay adjustments for faculty; and market adjustments for several campus units, notably the University Police Department, Information and Technology Services, and several skill trades within Facilities Management.


In recognition of the work done over the past year emerging from the pandemic, Damphousse had received approval to provide a one-time 1% merit-based bonus to qualifying A-State employees in Jonesboro before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. That budget also incorporates a change in the ASU System’s flagship university’s overall tuition and mandatory fee structure, and includes the first tuition increase in three years, and only the second increase in the past five budget cycles.


Damphousse said last month that A-State enrollment trends for fall are encouraging with year-over-year comparisons of freshman enrollment currently running 14.5% ahead at this time and a 58% rise in international enrollment. He expects some 1,000 students at A-State Campus Queretaro. A-State continues to have the state’s largest online program with 6,000 students and has doubled its online Master of Business Administration enrollment, he said.


If Kimbrough is chosen as ASU’s chancellor, it would put two Black educators at the head of the state’s two largest universities. Currently, Dr. Charles F. Robinson is the interim chancellor of the University of Arkansas flagship campus in Fayetteville, a role he has held since August 2021. In this role, he leads the university’s land-grant mission to provide opportunity and transform lives through education, research and service.


In February, University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt named a search committee to assist in finding the next chancellor at the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville (UAF). The committee, which includes faculty, staff and supporters of the university, will advise Bobbitt as he considers candidates to serve as the next chief executive of the UA System’s flagship campus. Bobbitt will ultimately recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas for final approval.


In April, the committee began its search for the next chancellor with the launch of a search website, which includes the position description, an overview of the phases of the search process and other relevant information. According to the website, candidates for the position to lead the state’s largest university and its 29,000 students must submit their application by July 8, 2022.


Here are brief bios of the finalists:  


Dr. Lawrence Kimbrough

Kimbrough has been president of Dillard University since 2012 and announced last year that he would step down this month to pursue other opportunities. He served as president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock from 2004-2012 and was vice president for student affairs at Albany State University in Albany, Ga., from 2000-2004. He also served at Emory University, Georgia State University and Old Dominion University.


Dr. Karen Petersen


Petersen has served as dean of the Henry Kendall College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Tulsa since February 2021. She was previously dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, where she was also a professor of political science. Her publications include journal articles on interstate conflict, terrorism, the federal courts, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and pedagogical issues related to online learning.


Dr. Todd Shields


Shields has served as dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas since 2014. He was previously associate director of the J. William Fulbright Institute of International Relations, director of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, interim dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, and dean of the Graduate School and International Education. He led the creation of the School of Art in 2017 following an unprecedented $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation and is guiding the construction of the Windgate Art and Design District in Fayetteville.


Dr. Lance Tatum


Tatum has served as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Troy since 2019, where he is also a professor in the Sorrell College of Business and its school of hospitality, sport and tourism management. He previously served four years as vice chancellor for Troy’s campus in Montgomery, Ala., four years as vice chancellor for Troy’s Global Campus, and began his academic administrative career as dean of the College of Education at Troy.  


Photo Captions:


1. Dr. Lawrence Kimbrough


2. Dr. Karen Petersen


3. Dr. Todd Shields


4. Dr. Lance Tatum


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