Despite protests from the Arkansas GOP, Gov. Mike Beebe said he wants former State Sen. Shane Broadway (D-Bryant) to head the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Broadway was an deputy director after his 2010 loss to Lt. Gov. Mark Darr (R). He was elevated to interim director after former higher ed chief Joe Purcell bolted to Louisiana for a similar post.
Arkansas Code 6-61-203 states that the higher education director “shall be an experienced educator in the field of higher education who demonstrates competence in the field of institutional management and finance. The director and key staff must have relevant experience on a campus of higher education.”
Broadway holds a political science degree from Arkansas State University.
The Republican Party of Arkansas has challenged Broadway’s credentials to lead the department. In a press release, party spokeswoman Katherine Vasilos said, “It appears Governor Beebe is more interested in seeing his Democrat crony elevated to a cushy position in his administration, rather than following Arkansas law. This is just another classic example of the good ole boy network in full swing.”
Beebe contends that Broadway’s experience as interim director qualifies his experience under state law.
Beebe spokesman Matt Decample tells Talk Business, "Since Shane Broadway didn’t have the same background as some previous directors of higher education, Gov. Beebe wanted him to serve as interim director for awhile, to gain experience and see how he handled the responsibility. The governor is pleased with the job Shane has done while building good relationships with both his staff and higher-education officials throughout Arkansas."