The director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Dr. Brett Powell, is leaving his post to become Henderson State University’s vice president for finance and administration.
Powell will leave his current position July 29 and start his new job Aug. 1. He informed members of the state Higher Education Coordinating Board of his decision Monday after telling Gov. Asa Hutchinson late last week. The Coordinating Board will recommend a replacement to Hutchinson.
Powell came to the department from Ouachita Baptist University, where he was vice president for administrative services, and still lives in Arkadelphia. HSU is across the street from OBU. The vice president of finance and administration is the university’s chief financial officer.
“The only thing that has been a negative at all about this job,” Powell said in an interview, “is I’ve missed being on campus. … There’s no students here at the department. There’s no faculty. Nobody’s teaching classes, and so the opportunity to be back on campus and to be closer to the mission of higher ed was really attractive.”
Powell pointed to the department’s success in producing its “Closing the Gap” master plan meant to increase student completion rates, reach more underserved students, increase adult enrollment and achieve other goals.
His last day at the department will coincide with a meeting of the Higher Education Coordinating Board to approve an implementation plan for achieving the Closing Gap goals. He also will present the framework of an outcomes-based funding model that will place less emphasis on student enrollment and provide institutions more funding for achieving educational goals.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement from his office, ”I am pleased to congratulate Dr. Powell on his opportunity to work on the leadership team at an outstanding Arkansas institution, Henderson State University. Dr. Powell has demonstrated extraordinary leadership as the director of the Department of Higher Education, and I am grateful for his time spent working alongside leadership at our two-year and four-year colleges to establish some very significant milestones and objectives in degree attainment. He and Dr. (Glen) Jones will make a great team at Henderson State, and I wish Dr. Powell all the best in his future endeavors.”