To fill two open seats on the powerful University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees, Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed a member of his staff and also appointed a two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate who also has served on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Kelly Eichler, who is a policy director for Hutchinson, was appointed to a term that ends March 1, 20126. Sheffield Nelson, the former Arkla CEO who was defeated by Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker in gubernatorial elections, was appointed to a term that ends March 1, 2025.
The 10-member Board helps direct policy for a university system that enrolls more than 60,000 students a year, employs more than 17,000, and has a combined budget of more than $2 billion.
“I am delighted to appoint Sheffield Nelson and Kelly Eichler to the Board of Trustees and have no doubt they will make tremendous additions to an already stellar group,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Their individual backgrounds and experience – not to mention their respective ties to the University of Arkansas System – will benefit their colleagues and provide new perspective in the coming years.”
Eichler replaces Jane Rogers of Little Rock, and Nelson replaces Jim von Gremp, who recently resigned from the UA System Board when he was appointed to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Eichler is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where she was a Razorback cheerleader and member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, which was founded by her aunt, Mary Campbell Gregory. She earned her juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law in 1991. She has served as a law clerk at the Arkansas Court of Appeals, as a Pulaski County Deputy Prosecutor, a partner in private practice, and Special Judge in Circuit and Juvenile Courts. She began working in state government for Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), and is now policy director for Hutchinson’s administration.
Her husband, Brad, is head of corporate finance for Little Rock-based Stephens Inc., and serves on the UALR Foundation board. They have two children: Alex and Max. Nelson earned his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law, Little Rock Division in 1969 and is a graduate of the Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas). He has served on the Boards of Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He served at two different times on the Arkansas Board of Higher Education. Nelson is the former chairman, president and CEO of Arkla. For the past 30 years, he has been a senior partner at the law firm, House, Wallace, Nelson and Jewell, and a successor firm, Jack Nelson and Jones. He also served on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 2000-2007.
In addition, he has served as president of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and as chairman of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission.
Nelson won the Republican nomination for Arkansas governor in 1990 and 1994, and served as co-chairman of the state’s Republican Party from 1991-1992, and as Republican National Committeeman from 1993-2000. Nelson and his wife, Mary Lynn, have two children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.