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U of A’s Next Great Chancellor is Already Here (Former Student Body Presidents Commentary)

3 min read

For the past sixteen months, the flagship institution of higher education within the state of Arkansas has been without a permanent chancellor.

Each author of this opinion has served as the student body president of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville over the span of the past twelve years and under four different chancellors. The student body president serves as a facilitator between the student body and university administration. Over the years, the strong partnership between the chancellor and the student body president has been critical to securing many of the university’s greatest achievements – and navigating many of its greatest challenges – in the 21st century. We each understand the importance of sound leadership, community experience, and a student-focused vision on the success of the chancellor’s office and the future of our institution and state.

The University of Arkansas is now at a critical juncture. As an institution, it cannot afford to extend this period of interim and uncertain leadership – nor can we now ask its students, faculty, and staff to live through the growing pains that an outside hire, with little institutional familiarity or support, would surely bring to campus. We need a chancellor who has cultivated their career and reputation by working with the range of stakeholders, competing priorities, and unique challenges at the state’s flagship university; and we need a chancellor with a proven track record right here in our backyard.

We collectively endorse the selection of Charles Robinson as the seventh chancellor of the University of Arkansas. Throughout his 20-plus year tenure in Fayetteville, Robinson has served as a faculty member, the vice provost for diversity, vice chancellor for student affairs, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, and interim chancellor. Through these roles, Robinson has been able to see the university from countless perspectives, engage with stakeholders with a variety of concerns, and piece together a plan to lead our institution into its next chapter. His qualifications for this job are demonstrable and widely supported by the university’s community.

What sets the university apart is also what sets it above the rest: our state’s deep-seeded devotion to its success. Our endorsement is not based on concerns with the other finalists, each of whom has shown the educational pedigree, experience, and vision worthy of consideration. Our endorsement is instead rooted in twelve years of working with, and learning from, Robinson. We know him, we trust him, and we have the utmost confidence in him to lead our home. We appreciate the patience and diligence of the search committee with what is a decision that deserves great care. Sometimes, though, hard questions have easy answers. Robinson is that answer.

Our recommendation to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees – and the recommendation echoed by countless students and young alumni throughout the Razorback community – is simple: in your search for our chancellor, look no further.

He’s already here.

This opinion comes from 12 consecutive former student body presidents at the U of A: Billy Fleming, B.LA 2011; Michael Dodd, B.S.BA 2012; Tori Pohlner Bogner, B.A. 2013, M. Ed., 2016; Bo Renner, B.S.B.A 2014, J.D. 2017; Daniel McFarland, B.S.A 2015; Tanner Bone, B.S.IB 2016; Connor Flocks, B.S.BA 2017; Andrew Counce, B.A. 2018; J.P. Gairhan, B.A. 2019; Jared Pinkerton, B.A. & B.S.BA 2020; Julia Nall, B.A. 2021; and Coleman Warren, B.A. & B.S.IE 2022.

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