Dr. Russell Jones elected president of Arkansas Tech University

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 159 views 

Dr. Russell Jones was elected by the ATU board of trustees as the 13th president of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville on Thursday (June 20).

Jones, who is from Marianna, is the first native Arkansan elected president at Arkansas Tech since Dr. Kenneth Kersh was hired in 1973. His appointment as president is effective July 1, 2024.

“It’s humbling, and I’m honored at the same time,” said Jones. “The trust that the Board of Trustees placed in me in this important position at this particular time in the university’s history…I’m very humbled by it, but I’ll tell you what was even more honoring to me than that. The board recently completed a survey of the faculty and employees, and the majority of them supported me and thought I was the right person for the job. It means so much when your peers and the people you work with every day say that. It’s an emotional day. ATU has so much to offer. We just have to get the word out. We’re a place that once you come here, you will love the people.”

Jones had served as interim president at Arkansas Tech since Aug. 17, 2023. In that capacity, he stabilized the academic leadership of the institution by hiring an executive vice president for academic affairs and provost and identifying permanent leadership for four ATU colleges that were operating under interim deans.

He also worked with a committee of student leaders to determine the final square footage and features of the forthcoming Ferguson Student Union, which will be constructed in the center of campus and serve as the new focal point for campus life at ATU.

Dr. Russell Jones, Arkansas Tech University president.

Enrollment and retention at Arkansas Tech both increased during the 2023-24 academic year. ATU enrolled 9,487 students in fall 2023 for its first increase in fall enrollment since 2018. On the Russellville campus, first-semester retention was 86.8%, the highest since 2018, and fall-to-fall retention was 70.5%, the highest since 2017. On the Ozark campus, first semester retention increased from 71.8% to 76.9% and fall-to-fall retention increased from 54.7% to 56.1%.

Under Jones’ leadership, ATU addressed deferred maintenance issues by committing to $15.5 million in enhancements to university facilities and equipment. Tomlinson Hall and the Administration Building were razed to save approximately $7 million in renovation costs so those funds could be utilized to improve to spaces that more directly influence the student experience.

ATU completed the final stages of its “Together, We Can” comprehensive campaign during Jones’ 10 months as interim president. The campaign raised $55 million in support of scholarships, student success programs, innovation initiatives and the construction of the Ferguson Student Union.

Jones also led the development and implementation of new scholarship tiers that will continue to provide financial assistance to qualified students while simultaneously allowing the institution to stay within its scholarship budget.

“Dr. Jones has a really good business background, he has a great personality and he’s a pretty smart fellow,” said Len Cotton of Dardanelle, ATU Board of Trustees chairman. “We’ve made great strides during the 10 months he has been interim president. We look forward to working with you and we congratulate you on becoming the 13th president of Arkansas Tech University.”

Jones joined ATU in July 2020 as dean of the College of Business, which has since been renamed the ATU College of Business and Economic Development. Jones’ faculty rank is professor of accounting.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology and a master’s degree in information systems from Arkansas State University. He earned his doctorate from the University of Texas at Arlington with a dual major in accounting and information systems.

Jones came to ATU from Arkansas State, where he was the Kathy White Endowed Professor of Management Information Systems (2006-2020). His previous roles at ASU included chair of accounting and information technology (2015-2018), Master of Business Administration director (2009-2012), associate professor of decision sciences (1995-2005) and assistant professor of computer information systems (1989-1995).

He also has was a visiting professor at the University of Caen in France and the University of Otago in New Zealand.