Gov. Mike Beebe announced that former Sen. Shane Broadway, who recently joined the Department of Higher Education as deputy director, will be its interim director while the state searches for a replacement for Jim Purcell, who’s taking a similar job in Louisiana.

With the announced departure of Dr. Jim Purcell from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE), Governor Mike Beebe has asked Deputy Director Shane Broadway to serve as Interim Director. Broadway has accepted the position. Beebe will discuss how next to proceed with the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“We will find an AHDE director who has the diplomatic skills to work with all our colleges and universities,” Governor Beebe said. “He or she must also have the ambition and drive to pursue our vision of doubling the number of Arkansans with college degrees by the year 2025.”

Under Arkansas law, the Director of Higher Education is chosen by the Coordinating Board, and confirmed by the governor. After hiring, the director serves at the will of the governor.

Does this news release imply Purcell lacked diplomatic skills? Don’t know, but it seems clear he rankled UA nabobs on occasion. That is not to be done. Purcell made it clear, I think, that the fractured governance of the Arkansas collegiate system is a recipe for duplication, waste and parochialism. But it’s our duplication, waste and parochialism.

A spokesman for Beebe said it was too early to say if Broadway himself would be a candidate for the permanent job. He’s hardly qualified by academic training (a B.A. from Arkansas State and a work history consisting primarily of legislative work), but political skills seem to be in greater demand than a Ph.D.