It’s official: UA board approves Alexander as next UAPB chancellor

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Laurence B. Alexander as the next chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in a Thursday afternoon teleconference.

Alexander was nominated for the post by UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt in the culmination of a search process that began with the May 25, 2012 retirement of former chancellor Lawrence A. Davis Jr.

“I am really honored and humbled all at the same time to have the opportunity to succeed someone of Dr. Davis’ stature who has done such great things for UAPB and who has been a driving force for the last more than two decades,” Alexander said Thursday evening. “He has done an exceptional job as chancellor and those are some mighty big shoes to fill. I am honored to be the one to follow him and to build on his success; build on what has been a great foundation.”

Alexander thanked interim chancellor Calvin Johnson for his service to UAPB.

“It is quite gratifying that Arkansas has such talented and extraordinary leaders that can step in like Dr. Calvin Johnson who stepped up to the plate and guided the university on an upward trajectory,” Alexander said.

Alexander has a clear picture of his overall vision for his chancellorship at UAPB.

“I look forward to beginning a new era for UAPB that we anticipate will be marked and identified by the the growth, size and stature of its academic programs; the development of its students for graduation and success; and by the advancement of the university in a number of respects to achieve all that it can be,” Alexander said.

Bobbitt was pleased with the results of the search process and thankful to those who organized the effort.

“Dr. Alexander is the complete package,” Bobbitt said after the meeting. “Of the finalists he had the most traditional path academically, which appealed to officials at UAPB. He also has extensive administrative experience. I think that the entire University of Arkansas System is indebted to the selection committee chaired by Dr. Robert McGehee. It was due to their energy and hard work that the search process was a success. It was an outstanding field and I couldn’t be more pleased with the candidates. Each of them brought different strengths to the table and all received favorable responses.”

UA trustee and Pine Bluff resident Dr. Stephen Broughton said he is impressed with Alexander’s credentials as well as his understanding of the mission of the university.

“The search committee made an excellent decision,” Broughton said. “I think this is the start of something good. I’ve known Dr. Davis for a number of years. He was my first professor at UAPB. So, anybody less than Dr. Alexander would be less than Dr. Davis would expect.

“I believe that what separated Dr. Alexander from the rest comes down to his presentation in terms of his depth and breadth of vision,” Broughton said. “He not only addressed the remediation and graduation issue at UAPB but also expressed his appreciation for the school’s mission to educate people who are not given any other options. He views the fact that UAPB continues to be an open institution as a credit and said that the university will continue to educate those students.”

Broughton said Alexander also emphasized that UAPB has a long history of producing successful scientists, business people and community leaders and that he will strive to continue to attract the best and the brightest to UAPB.

“He talked about continuing to improve some of the wonderful programs there,” Broughton said. “He talked about the very strong STEM program and his desire to see it continue to grow.”

Broughton said Alexander also displayed an appreciation for the Delta and its culture.

“He grew up in New Orleans and understands the type of students that we are educating,” Broughton said. “He understands what a land grant institution is and how it is funded. He’s really looking forward to working with a university that has in recent years had some issues but also has such a rich history.”