He was one of three college administrators interviewed for the job this week. Their selection followed a problem-marred candidate review process (sometimes open to the press, sometimes not) in which — mirabile dictu — Welch emerged as a last-day candidate. It was in keeping with an old Arkansas higher education tradition in which a national search is proudly announced and a last-minute insider is chosen, giving every appearance — if not the fact — that the fix was in from the outset.
No contract details announced.
News release follows:
Nov. 9, 2010 — The Board of Trustees of Arkansas State University this afternoon voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Charles L. (Chuck) Welch of Arkadelphia to serve as the next president of the Arkansas State University System.
Welch, who grew up in Jonesboro, is currently serving as president of Henderson State University. Details about his contract and starting date will be worked out with Dr. Welch by Mrs. Florine Tousant Milligan of Forrest City, Board chair.
The Board interviewed Dr. Welch in executive session this morning, then deliberated until about 12:40 p.m. After a break for lunch, the trustees went back into executive session for further discussion before reconvening in public. On a motion by Trustee Mike Gibson of Osceola, seconded by Dan Pierce of Jonesboro, the Board voted to appoint Welch as the ASU System’s second president, with the contract details to be worked out.
Following the vote, Dr. Welch addressed the Board and the audience.
“I want to begin by just thanking the Board of Trustees. I am honored by the confidence you have placed in me,” he said. “I am excited about the opportunity. I told Henderson when I accepted that position that I would only consider leaving for an extraordinary opportunity and this (ASU System) is indeed an extraordinary opportunity. This is a chance to assist a system with growing, developing, advancing and helping young people, just like I was, have the opportunities that I have been fortunate to have.”
Mrs. Milligan commented after the vote that she was very pleased with the pool of applicants, including the three “outstanding candidates” who came in for interviews. She also expressed appreciation to the 15-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee for their assistance with the search process, which began July 30.
Prior to his appointment at Henderson, Dr. Welch served as chancellor of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, and before that he was vice chancellor for academic affairs at ASU-Beebe. He earned his doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, his master’s degree in political management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Dr. Welch and his wife, Mandy, have two children, Wheatley, 6, and Emma, 5. They are expecting their third child next May.
The interviews were conducted at Cooper Alumni Center on the ASU-Jonesboro campus, using an identical format. Each candidate responded to questions from the 15-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee in an open session, prior to meeting privately with the Board.
Dr. Robert L. Potts, who came to ASU-Jonesboro as chancellor in November 2006, was selected by the Board to serve as interim president beginning on July 1. His appointment followed the resignation of Dr. Les Wyatt, who had served as president for 15 years.