Dr. Edward Serna, chief of staff and vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, has been named interim university chancellor by UA System President Dr. Donald Bobbitt, the system announced Thursday (Aug. 16).
The interim move follows the July 27 announcement from former UAFS Chancellor Dr. Paul Beran that he was leaving for a higher education role in South Dakota. Beran had been at UAFS for 12 years.
In his new role, with oversight from the South Dakota Higher Education Board of Regents, Beran will oversee six higher education institutions in the state of South Dakota, including the flagship and regional state universities, as well as the South Dakota School for the Deaf and the South Dakota School for the Blind. Additionally, he will work with all arms of state government, including the governor and state and federal legislators and the state superintendent in charge of public schools and technical two-year schools.
“After talking with people on campus and within the community and reflecting on my experiences with him, it was clear that Dr. Serna has the institutional knowledge and skill set to help lead the campus during this time of transition,” Bobbitt said in a statement. “Drs. Serna and Beran have worked closely together on a vision for UAFS for many years and I’m confident that the institution is in more than capable hands to continue those initiatives.”
Bobbitt said the UA System will work with UAFS to immediately begin a national search for Beran’s replacement, and he will soon visit the campus to meet with various groups and in the community to seek guidance and advice.
Prior to joining UAFS, Serna spent 15 years as a management consultant and program manager for both commercial and government organizations. His private sector career included being a manager in unmanned aircraft systems with Science & Engineering Services in Huntsville, Ala. He also spent seven years as a strategy and organization associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he served as a consultant for the U.S. Army and NASA.
Serna began teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2007, and began pursuing his doctorate at the University of Alabama in 2012. He joined UAFS in 2015 after a year as an assistant professor of management at Athens State University. Serna earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Winthrop University, a master’s degree in industrial management from Clemson University and a master’s degree in information systems from Auburn University prior to his doctorate from the University of Alabama. He was also recognized as an Outstanding Doctoral Student from the University of Alabama’s Higher Education Administration program. He is a graduate of the 2017 class of Leadership Arkansas.
“I am excited and honored to be chosen to lead UAFS in the interim chancellor role,” Serna said. “Over the past year, we have made enormous strides in improving how our university promotes student success, and I look forward to continuing that momentum over the course of the 2018-19 school year to ensure a smooth and successful transition for the new chancellor.”