Nov 17, 2022 - News

University of Arkansas selects Robinson as chancellor

Charles Robinson. Photo: Courtesy of University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to give interim chancellor Charles Robinson the official job.

Why it matters: This is the top leadership position at the state's flagship higher-ed institution.

  • Yes, and: Robinson is the first Black person to be in the role.

The intrigue: The decision comes after some indecisiveness. The university revealed in October it narrowed the search from four to two candidates after the board couldn't reach a consensus.

  • The search came down to Robinson and Daniel Reed, a computational science professor at the University of Utah who also worked as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
  • UA System president Donald Bobbitt wanted to hire Reed, and proposed that Robinson take his former job as provost back with a salary equal to or greater than his earnings as interim chancellor, the Arkansas Times first reported. Robinson declined, saying he'd rather be in the running for chancellor.
  • Steuart Walton endorsed Reed, citing his experience at Microsoft.
  • A total of 12 former student body presidents endorsed Robinson, pointing to his track record with the school and stating they know and trust him.

Background: Robinson has worn many hats in his 23 years at the university. He started as a professor and has since had roles such as executive vice chancellor for student and academic affairs, vice chancellor for diversity and community and vice provost for diversity.

  • Robinson established the College Access Initiative, a readiness outreach program for underrepresented students and he led the main capital campaign initiative for Advance Arkansas, a $10 million scholarship effort for first-generation, low-income Arkansans, according to the university.
  • Under his leadership, the U of A constructed Adohi Hall, a $79 million student residence that's the only dorm in the United States to use cross-laminated timber, a construction process that reduces environmental impact.
  • Robinson also oversaw a $22 million expansion of the Pat Walker Health Center and helped plan the Student Success Center, a facility focused on increasing access to services on campus.
  • Robinson's research and teaching focuses on Southern history and race relations, African American studies, sexuality in history and civil rights.

What's next: Robinson will receive a three-year contract, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.


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