As some of you may already have heard, I recently accepted the position of Chancellor at Arkansas State University, effective July 1, 2017. The President of the ASU System will be announcing his decision to hire me this morning and I wanted you to hear it from me rather than from the news media.
I know that this sounds sudden – it is sudden to me. I was not seeking to leave OU – the position found me. This has all happened in just the past three weeks, so Beth and I are still trying to wrap our heads all that needs to happen in the next six weeks. OU is literally our home (we just finished our fourth year as Faculty-in-Residence in Headington Hall). But more than that, CAS has been our life for 13 years (first as associate dean, then as dean). Beth and I have poured everything that we have into this job and I had always imagined finishing off my career from the third floor of Ellison Hall. I never once thought that I would have an opportunity like the one in Jonesboro. I felt incredibly blessed to have the job that I had.
Please know that I am not leaving OU because I am unhappy or frustrated here. Just the opposite is true. I have always been treated better than I deserve by my President, my Provosts, my Dean, and the people who I serve – the faculty, staff, and student in our college. The timing could hardly be worse. We have weathered what I hope to be the worst of the financial storms, and we have just completed our strategic plan – an accomplishment we should all be proud about. I honestly believe that things are about to take off here. To top that all off, I had planned to spend the summer trying to get my long overdue research monograph finished…
But the more that I learned about Arkansas State, the more convinced I was that Beth and I could make a difference there. I was humbled to learn that they felt the same way about us.
President Boren will likely name an Interim Dean sometime in the near future. I do not know who that will be, but one thing that I do know is that the college is in good hands. The Dean's Office staff (led by our Operations Team of Vicki Sturtevant, Kelvin White, Rhonda Dean-Kyncl, Chan Hellman, Cassie Gilman, Emily Pierce, and Jennie Hill) is composed of incredibly gifted individuals who are dedicated to the college's mission – to ensure that our faculty, staff, and students have the resources that they need to excel. Our chairs and directors are a robust collection of scholar-leaders who sacrifice daily their own personal and research time to serve their fellow faculty members, staff members, and students. Our staff members continue to be the backbone of the college's infrastructure, and our faculty is collectively brighter and more accomplished than it has ever been.
So I am thankful that the college stands on stable ground. I hope that when I leave Norman at the end of June, folks will believe that I have left this place better than I found it. I promise you, I tried to do that every day. I am grateful for the faith that President Boren, Provost Mergler, Provost Harper, and Dean Emeritus Bell placed in me over these past 13 years. To the extent that I am able to serve capably as A-State's next chancellor, I owe much of that to them.
I will miss you, my dear friends. I have watched so many of you do incredible things and I mourn the fact that I will not be around to celebrate your next successes in person. But please know that I will always be watching from Jonesboro (busting with pride over what you are accomplishing).
Sincerely and with tremendous respect,
Live on, University…