UAPB chancellor links education to reducing crime

The new chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff thanked members of the police and fire departments for their work Tuesday, then talked about his plans for the school.

Laurence Alexander, who took over as UAPB’s chief administrator in July, was the featured speaker during Coffee with the Chiefs, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

“This is my chance to commend police and firemen for the jobs they do on our behalf,” he said. “They’re our protectors. They make sacrifices. They give, and give, and give again.”

Alexander said that when he was asked to speak at the program, he thought about what the university could do to help reduce crime.

“The mayor hit it on the head,” Alexander said, referring to Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, who spoke earlier during the program. “It’s education. We’ve got to educate from the smallest to the largest.

“I’m new at UAPB,” he said. “I traded the Sunshine State for the Natural State and I traded in the Florida Gators and now I’ve got the Golden Lions.”

He said he wants to see the enrollment at the school grow, with the goal of having 4,000 students in the next two years. There are currently 2,600 students at the school.

“That’s an ambitious goal but it’s attainable,” Alexander said. “We will do it. Over the next two years, we will accomplish that.”

In the time that he has been here, Alexander said, he has seen the university and the community interact and he wants to continue that tradition with workforce development.

“We want to produce what Arkansas needs the most and that’s a college-educated workforce,” He said. “We want to form and grow alliances with local businesses and create local opportunities for our students to do internships.

“The best is yet to come and I’m proud to be a part of the community,” Alexander said.

When she spoke, Hollingsworth said education is the driving force in improving the city’s economy, and described children as “a passion.

“As adults, we have to make sure they get an education,” she said.