Finalists for University of Arkansas-Fort Smith provost job visit campus

Partial Candidate Work History

jordan barkley

Senior associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration, Tarleton State University, since July.

Associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration, Tarleton State University, July 2019 – June 30.

Dean and professor of the College of Education, Tarleton State University, July 2014 – July 2019.

Associate dean and director of accreditation of the College of Education & Professional Studies, Jacksonville State University, July 2011 – June 2014.

Secondary Education Department head for the College of Education & Professional Studies, Jacksonville State University, January 2009 – June 2011.

Vijaya Gompa

Dean and professor of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Johnson C. Smith University, since June 2020.

Professor of the Department of Mathematical, Computing, and Information Sciences, Jacksonville State University, August 2016 – May 2020.

Department head and professor of the Department of Mathematical, Computing and Information Sciences, Jacksonville State University, August 2016 – December 2019.

Director of the Wiregrass Math, Science and Technology Leadership Academy project, Troy University, 2011 – 2017.

Professor of the Department of Mathematics, Troy University, August 2010 – July 2016.

Chad Hargrave

Associate provost and chief research officer for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Sam Houston State University, since January 2018.

Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University, since September 2018.

Interim associate vice president and chief research officer for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Sam Houston State University, January 2016 – December 2017.

Department chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University, September 2012 – September 2017.

Associate professor of the Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University, September 2012 – August 2018.

Scott McKay

Dean of arts and sciences, University of Texas Permian Basin, since 2019.

Interim associate vice president of research, University of Texas Permian Basin, 2019 – 2020.

Provost/vice president of academic affairs, Dakota State University, 2017 – 2019.

Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Southern Arkansas University, 2011 – 2017.

Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physics, University of Central Missouri, 2009 – 2011.

Shadow Robinson

Dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, University of Tennessee at Martin, since 2018.

Interim chair of the Department of Engineering, University of Tennessee at Martin, 2019 – 2020.

Director of the Compass Curriculum, Millsaps College, 2016 – 2018.

Director of the James Observatory, Millsaps College, 2016 – 2018.

Chair of the Department of Physics, Millsaps College, 2011 – 2018.

Source: University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

FORT SMITH — The five finalists for the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position visited the campus over the past two weeks.

Each candidate spent two days meeting and interviewing with faculty, staff, students, administration and other community members, according to Ken Warden, chairman of the university’s internal search committee.

The candidates also hosted public presentations at the Windgate Theater on campus in which they discussed how they would prepare the university for reaccreditation if selected as provost, according to a university news release. They talked about how to address the challenges they might expect a regional university to face during the reaccreditation process as well.

Warden, who is also the university’s associate vice chancellor for compliance and legislative affairs, said the visits allowed constituents to provide their feedback on the finalists.

“This is one we don’t want to get wrong,” Warden said. “We just have to be diligent about the process to ensure that we’ve done everything we can to know that this candidate is going to be highly qualified, but also high quality.”

Warden said the committee has gathered the constituents’ feedback and will give its input on all five finalists to Terisa Riley, university chancellor. Riley will ultimately decide who she to hire her.

The university expects the process to be finished before June 30, the news release states.

Alexandra Zacharella, a search committee member who serves as director of bands and associate professor of low brass at the university, said she believes the provost should be a strong advocate for faculty and students. He also understands how the field of higher education is being affected by key social, political, economic and technological changes and will be a “real change agent” to bring the university into the next phase it has planned.

Warden explained the university will develop a new strategic plan in the 2022-23 academic year. The university will also go through the reaccreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accrediting organization, in the 2024-25 academic year.

The university spent much of the time since Riley became likely to cry in 2019 responding to the covid-19 pandemic, he said.

Warden said the new provost, which he called a “chief academic officer role,” will be key to the university’s efforts to get back to the business of ensuring it’s both aligned with the needs of the community and fits its mission as a regional comprehensive university .

Another New Phase

Georgia Hale, the university’s current provost, in February announced her plans to retire June 30.

Hale’s tenure at the university began in 2004 as associate dean of the newly created College of Business, now the College of Business and Industry, according to the university. From there, she became interim dean of the business college and then dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology before assuming her current role in 2014.

Hale said she’s excited to begin planning the next phase of her life. She believes it’s time for a little less stress after a “very rewarding” career at the university.

“This last commencement ceremony was a little sad for me because I have spent the last 18 Mother’s Day weekends participating in multiple commencement ceremonies,” Hale said “These ceremonies are the culmination of this phase of our students’ lives and the beginning of another. This last commencement meant the same for me.”

Hale said she has worked under three chancellors during her eight years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, at a time she described as being filled with change. She believes the university’s reorganization, something announced in April 2021 and which reduced the number of colleges at the university from five to three, among other actions, was probably the most dramatic change she dealt with during those years.

The Search

Warden said the national search for a new provost began in February after the university hired Academic Career and Executive Search, a West Hartford, Conn.-based firm. Riley appointed a combination of faculty, staff, students and administrators to serve on the internal search committee for the position, according to the news release.

Kristen Merritt, search committee member and advising coordinator in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, said the commitment to shared governance at the institution has played a significant role in the process of helping Riley select the new provost.

“Traditionally, you think of provost and academic affairs just being faculty and students, but to have a seat at the table as a staff member at this university and as a whole has been a great opportunity,” Merritt said.

Academic Career and Executive Search brought an initial pool of more than 75 candidates to the search committee, according to Warden. The committee then worked with the firm to whittle that down to 16 candidates before it narrowed the list to the five who ended up visiting the campus in person this month.

The final five included:

• Jordan Barkley, senior associate provost and associate vice president for academic administration in the Division of Academic Affairs at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

• Vijaya Gompa, dean and professor of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC

• Chad Hargrave, associate provost and chief research officer for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

• Scott McKay, dean of arts and sciences at the University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.

• Shadow Robinson, dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin in Martin, Tenn.

Rachel Putman, the university’s associate director for strategic communications, said Academic Career and Executive Search was hired for $35,000. The annual salary for the new provost will be in the range of $200,000.

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