University of Arkansas begins search for next vice chancellor of economic development

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,567 views 

Stacy Leeds, vice chancellor for economic development at the University of Arkansas.

The University of Arkansas has started a search for the next vice chancellor for economic development, while Stacy Leeds, who is in that role currently, will remain in the position until the search is completed.

In a social media post on Tuesday (Feb. 18), Leeds wrote: “I will soon complete a decade of service to (and love for) the University of Arkansas. After 7 law dean yrs + 3 yrs as a VC, it’s time for me to recalibrate. The search for the next UA Economic Development leader is underway.”

In an email to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Leeds explained that the social media post was not an announcement that she is leaving the UA.

“We are simply launching the search for the next vice chancellor, and we presume that the torch will be passed this summer when the successful search is complete,” Leeds said. “I have always been very mindful and intentional about succession planning and leadership transitions, and I’m proud that UA will enter the search for our next economic development leader from a position of strength with tremendous momentum.”

The UA posted the position on its website, and it shows the consultants for the search committee are Kate Nihill and Meredith Rosenberg, both of executive search company Russell Reynolds Associates. The consulting company previously completed executive searches for regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas National Airport in Highfill.

The job post shows the UA’s economic impact contributes more than $2.2 billion to the Arkansas economy annually.

“The university is in an exciting time of growth in its nationally recognized research mission, and is seeking outstanding candidates for the position of vice chancellor for economic development (VCED),” according to the post. “This VCED will replace the inaugural holder of this position. They will build on recent successes including record numbers of invention disclosures, provisional and non-provisional patent applications and patents issued for University of Arkansas innovations.”

Leeds has served as the UA’s first vice chancellor for economic development since July 2018. She first assumed the role on an interim basis in August 2017.

“When I took on the role as the inaugural VCED, my job was to envision, plan and implement this new office,” Leeds said. “It’s been a startup operation in its own right and consequently we’ve run very hard and fast since the inception. I’m confident that we have assembled the right team, built the proper foundation and that this will be an incredibly attractive opportunity for the right person.”

The Office of Economic Development was created in February 2018 after a two-year strategic plan was completed that identified a need for the university to expand its role in the economic success of the state.

As a member of the UA executive committee, Leeds reports directly to Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. In her role, she oversees the offices of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Industry Engagement and Corporate and Foundation Relations, The Sustainability Consortium, World Trade Center Arkansas, the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, Technology Ventures, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Tribal Governance and Economic Empowerment Consortium.

Leeds also is dean emeritus and law professor at the UA. She was dean of the UA School of Law from 2011 to July 2018. She previously was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Kansas and justice for the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. Leeds has law degrees from the University of Wisconsin and University of Tulsa. She received a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from the University of Tennessee.

The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named Leeds to the Women In Business class of 2019.

Interested applicants for the vice chancellor’s position can email their information to Nihill or Rosenberg.

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