ATU announces four finalists for president’s position


FORT SMITH — Arkansas Tech University’s Advisory Committee on Presidential Search narrowed candidates for the 12th president of the university to four, ATU Trustee and committee chairwoman Leigh Whiteside announced Wednesday.

The finalists are J. William Berry, University of Dallas executive vice president and provost; Robin E. Bowen, Fitchburg, Mass., State University executive vice president and provost; Rex Gandy, Texas A&M University at Kingsville provost; and Robert J. Marley, Montana State University vice president for student success.

The finalists will visit ATU’s main campus at Russellville and the ATU-Ozark Campus during the first half of April, Whiteside stated in a news release. The dates and times for each finalist’s campus and community forums will be announced later, she said.

“We had a very competitive pool, and the committee worked with great deliberation to pare down the list of exceptional individuals to a limited short list,” Whiteside said.

Besides the advisory committee’s preliminary interviews with the candidates in March, the committee and its search consultants had many conversations with people who worked with the candidates, she said.

“There is a strong consensus within the search advisory committee that these candidates are capable of providing effective leadership for Arkansas Tech University,” Whiteside said.

The new president will replace Robert C. Brown, who in August announced he will retire as active university president on June 30, the end of the current academic year. Brown has served as ATU president for 21 years, the longest tenure at his present institution among all Arkansas four-year college and university presidents and chancellors.

During Brown’s tenure, enrollment at ATU has increased 169 percent, setting a 15th consecutive record enrollment with 11,385 students in the fall 2013 semester. Of all the degrees awarded in ATU’s 105-year history, 57 percent were during Brown’s tenure, according to the ATU news release.

According to University of Dallas literature, Berry became the school’s provost in 2008 and its executive vice president the next year. A native Arkansan, Berry holds a bachelor’s degree in history and English from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a doctorate in history from Princeton University. He previously served as Butler University provost and on the faculty at universities including Princeton and Mercer.

According to Fitchburg State University literature, Bowen joined the school as vice president for academic affairs in 2011 and in 2013 was promoted to executive vice president and provost, serving as second in command for administration and leadership.

According to Bowen’s LinkedIn profile, she previously served as interim provost at Donnelly College of Kansas, vice president for academic affairs at Washburn University of Topeka, Kan., and dean of the school of graduate and professional studies at Rockhurst University of Kansas City, Mo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from University of Kansas, a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from UA-Fayetteville and a doctorate in higher education administration from the Texas Tech University.

According to Texas A&M literature, Gandy became the Kingsville university’s provost in 2009, having previously served as dean and professor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Science and Technology. Gandy previously was chairman and professor at the University of Idaho, where he also was Idaho Nanoscience Initiative team leader. He was Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics associate dean for research and a director of the Auburn Fusion Laboratory. He also was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist. Gandy holds a doctorate from the University of Texas and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Memphis.

According to Marley’s LinkedIn profile, he was appointed vice president for student success at the Bozeman, Mont., university in July 2013. He previously served as an MSU engineering professor for almost 24 years. Marley is a principal at JFAssociates, a privately held mechanical/industrial engineering company, and was an ACE fellow at Texas A&M University’s leadership development program from 2012-13. He served as dean and director of MSU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Experiment Station,as a Boeing fellow and research assistant at Wichita State University and as a rehabilitation engineering analyst for the Cerebral Palsy Research Center. Marley holds a bachelor’s degree in general sciences, a master’s in engineering management science and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Wichita State University.