University of Arkansas’ top research officer resigns; interim named

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,148 views 

John English and Margaret Sova McCabe

John English, vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville since November 2020, is resigning from the job and returning to the UA’s College of Engineering faculty, effective Dec. 31.

According to a UA news release Friday (Nov. 18), Margaret Sova McCabe, a senior adviser for strategic projects and professor of law at the UA, will take on the interim role while a national search for the English’s replacement begins. The temporary appointment will be in addition to her current duties.

Before assuming the vice chancellor’s role two years ago, English was dean of the College of Engineering for seven years. He was also head of the Department of Industrial Engineering from 2000 to 2007.

“I’m so excited about returning to my roots, my first love of teaching and being a faculty member,” English said. “To have had a career come full circle in this way is incredibly humbling and fulfilling, and I am truly looking forward to this next phase of my long career in higher education and serving my alma mater.”

English is a Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He holds his B.S.E.E. degree and M.S. degree in operations research from the UA and his Ph.D. in industrial engineering and management from Oklahoma State University. Before joining the UA as dean in 2013, he served as dean and the LeRoy C. and Aileen H. Paslay Chair of the Kansas State College of Engineering.

“I’d like to thank John for his leadership during this pivotal time in growing the university’s research enterprise,” Chancellor Charles Robinson said. “He has been a steadfast presence on this campus, which has benefited from his contributions to the mission of teaching, research and service. I’m grateful that he will continue to support students on our campus through continuing his teaching duties.”

Under English’s leadership of the Division of Research and Innovation, the university reorganized the division, adding clear communications channels and planned growth in the Office of Sponsored Projects and other vital programs and activities to better support researchers.

Along with the vice chancellor for economic development, English recruited and hired the inaugural director of the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R) and built a strong collaboration with other research institutions in the state, including the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Arkansas State University. Also, the university again received the highest classification of research activity from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, earning the designation of “Research 1” — Doctoral University: Very High Research Activity.

According to the release, McCabe will focus on implementing critical operational enhancements designed in consultation with the Huron Group under English’s leadership, preparing the division offices for new leadership and supporting campus research.

“This responsibility fits in nicely with my other assignments designed to enhance excellence across our operational footprint,” McCabe said. “I know that our researchers and division personnel are among the best and are dedicated to ensuring our research advances not only the university but the state, nation and world.”