by Max Brantley
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Joel E. Anderson, a champion of affordable, accessible, and high quality higher education in Arkansas, announced today that he will retire following a 13-year tenure as chancellor and a 45-year career at the university. His retirement will be effective June 30, 2016.
Anderson became UALR chancellor in 2003, bringing with him more than 30 years of university and community service. He had previously served UALR as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and as founding dean of the Graduate School.
Chancellor Anderson’s announcement comes on the heels of a 1.2 percent increase in enrollment at UALR, including a 19 percent increase in first-time college students and a 7.1 percent increase in first-time transfer students.
“It has been a tremendous pleasure to see UALR grow and mature into the excellent, comprehensive university that it has become,” said Chancellor Anderson. “The faculty and staff of UALR deserve more credit than they will ever receive for their tireless efforts to help students achieve the dream of a college education that will enable students to adjust to a changing future and support themselves and their families.”
During Anderson’s tenure as chancellor, the campus completed several major building projects including the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology, the Donaldson Student Services Center, the Nanotechnology Center, the Coleman Sports Complex, the Jack Stephens Center, the University Plaza shopping center purchase, the Coleman Creek Greenway Project, and three residence halls.
Among the numerous highlights of Anderson’s service as chancellor were the recent partnership with eStem to build a new high school on the university’s campus; 11 fully online degree programs; the expansion of doctoral programs; completion of a $103 million comprehensive campaign, and the creation of the George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center.
University of Arkansas System President, Donald R. Bobbitt will form a search committee in the coming weeks with the goal to complete the search by July 1, 2016.
“It has been one of the great honors and privileges of my professional career to work with Chancellor Anderson, said President Bobbitt. He has been a calm and productive leader for UALR, and it is clear from the length of his service to the institution that he has passion and concern for the students and the faculty who serve them.”
One of the achievements he was most passionate about was the founding in 2011 of the Institute on Race and Ethnicity, a center designed to move Arkansas forward on the broad front of racial and ethnic justice through education, research, dialogue, community events, and reconciliation initiatives.
As professor, dean, provost, and chancellor, Anderson always related success of the university to success of the students UALR served. As chancellor, he launched numerous initiatives to recruit and retain more students and to reach out to underserved student populations. His signature is on more than 26,836 diplomas and the university’s fall-to-fall retention rate is the highest it has ever been.
“Joel is a true gentleman who cares about the university more than himself”, said Dr. Dean Kumpuris, chair of the UALR Board Visitors. “He has no ego and has sought our advice and support more than he probably had to,” “His primary goal has been to shepherd the university to a better place, which he has done. We are lucky to have had him as a leader for so many years.”
Anderson, who grew up on a farm east of Swifton in northeast Arkansas, received a BA degree in political science from Harding University, an MA degree in international relations from American University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. He also completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University.
“The university has good momentum. I need time to catch up on a backlog of books and also to see my grandchildren more often. All the while I will watch with pride as UALR grows and changes.”
For more highlights of the chancellor's career, visit: http://ualr.at/ChancellorRetirement