‘Some real gems here’ says UAFS chancellor candidate

by Tina Alvey Dale (tdale@talkbusiness.net) 593 views 

The first of the four finalists for the new chancellor at University of Arkansas at Fort Smith met with faculty, students and the public Monday (March 25). Dr. Marilyn Wells, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., spent more than an hour in a public forum in the Reynolds Room in the UAFS student center.

After discussing all the positive aspects of the university, Wells took a few moments to share what she envisions for the future of UAFS. The university needs plans, Wells said. She applauded UAFS’ strategic plan through 2022, but noted there were areas that still needed plans.

“We need some stronger plans. There are some real gems here, and there are some opportunities,” she said.

One step in the plan is to better tell UAFS success stories and to decide what the story of UAFS will be. This story will help market the university to more students throughout the country, she said.

“There needs to be a plan on what the 30-second elevator speech will be,” Wells said.

The university also needs a plan on what the graduate program will look like, she said, noting some of the master’s degree programs that can be incorporated into the catalog could include professional services master’s program, advanced dental therapy, arts entrepreneurship and agri-business.

Marilyn Wells

She said there could be a plan on sending faculty as teams to more forums, conferences and symposiums, so they can come back with more ideas to grow the university. The university could also benefit from an enrollment plan that would identify who are the students of the future, Wells said.

“What is the UAFS experience? Why do people want to come here? This is what needs to be answered,” she said.

There also needs to be a plan to develop talent, Wells said.

“What is the faculty of the future?” Wells asked. “Answering these questions, developing these plans, that gives purpose to what we do. It’s how you are different.”

Fielding questions from some of the approximately 115 who attended the forum, Wells answered questions on stabilizing enrollment, developing a relationship with the student body, engaging the community and increasing diversity in faculty, staff and students.

Answering the question on how UAFS can continue to partner with regional businesses to develop a pipeline of skilled employees through workforce development from Jason Green, vice-president of human resources at ABB/Baldor, Wells described how Minnesota State University has developed an engineering program to help industry in the Iron Range area of Minnesota that was recently listed as a top 10 integrated engineering program in country by MIT.

“These are examples of things that can be done,” Wells said. “This is not course-based. It’s project-based. That’s the magical component.”

The remaining three finalists will visit the campus over the next two weeks.
• Robert Marley, Ph.D.: provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, March 28.
• Philip Way, Ph.D.: provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, April 1
• Terisa Riley, Ph.D.: senior vice president for Student Affairs and University Administration, Texas A&M University at Kingsville, April 4

All public forums will be held from 3:45 to 5 p.m. in the Reynolds Room at the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center on the UAFS campus.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas will meet with each of the finalists in person or via conference call beginning March 26. Trustees will either meet in person during each finalist’s campus visit or via teleconference originating at the University of Arkansas System – Cammack Campus. The candidates will all be meeting from UAFS. The meetings with trustees will be held in executive session from 1:45-3 p.m. on their respective dates. Wells will meet March 26; Marley, March 29; Way, April 2; and Riley, April 5.

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