by Max Brantley
G. David Gearhart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas's Fayetteville campus, says he will not be a candidate for president of the university system. President Alan Sugg has announced his retirement in June 2011 and the UA Board of Trustees is expected to begin talking about finding a replacement at its meeting Friday.
Gearhart had been mentioned as a favorite of some trustees for the post, though there'd been indications it might mean a period when he was both Fayetteville chancellor and president, an idea that was met coolly by some other UA campuses. Gearhart issued this statement today:
“I have informed the Board of Trustees chairman, John Ed Anthony, that I will not be a candidate for the position of President of the University of Arkansas System.
“I am deeply honored to have been suggested as a possible successor to President Sugg, but the timing is not right for me to leave my position as Chancellor so soon after being named to it. I believe we are making great progress at the University of Arkansas on a number of fronts and do not want to abandon the faculty, staff, and students here before our work is done. I am excited to continue to work with you as hard as humanly possible to build the flagship campus into one of the best institutions in the nation."
Gearhart seemed to rule out even a draft by the UA Board by saying in one interview that he couldn't see leaving Fayetteville until he's spent five to seven years in the chancellor's job.