By golly, Dr. Carl Johnson, the chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, has done it. He’s led a search that produced four applicants for the job of president of the UA System, to succeed the retiring B. Alan Sugg.
All have Arkansas roots.
Two former University of Arkansas trustees mentioned here before are applicants: banker Frank Oldham of Jonesboro and Marianna farmer/lawyer and former Arkansas Farm Bureau president, Stanley Reed. Oldham has a UA Ph.D. Reed went to UA undergraduate and law schools.
There’s also John Churchill, an Arkansas native and Rhodes scholar and former Hendrix College faculty member and interim president who’s now CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Washington. I might as well mention it before someone else does — he’s brother-in-law of Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. But before you start conspiring on that, please note that Skip is also very close to Stanley Reed. Churchill is the sole candidate with no time as a student on the UA campus, having schooled at Rhodes College and Yale.
Finally, there’s Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, provost of the University of Texas at Arlington, who is a UA grad and former dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at UA. He has a UA bachelor’s degree.
Academic credentials galore in this bunch and enough Arkansas connections to insure that, as ever, the process will have its political elements. Given that the choice will be made by a 10-member board of people appointed by the governor on account of their political clout, it could be no other way.
But Johnson was right. You COULD get people willing to apply publicly for this job and go through the interview process, even though they might not be selected in the end. These are not called “finalists,” for whatever that’s worth. A spokesman said no other applications were received in this stage of the process except these four. In an earlier stage of the process, when John Ed Anthony was board chair, some applications were received and announced, but none was invited for a board interview. Anthony talked of difficulty in getting applicants.
Full release follows. This link takes you to a page with bios and links to application letters and resumes.
Private interviews with the board will be Wednesday and Thursday in Little Rock. Candidates will meet with media after.
Personal disclosure: I once ran an article in the Arkansas Times by Dr. Churchill about — woo pig — his family’s pet pot-bellied pig. I met him in 1971 at a college track meet in Tennessee. We both threw the discus, he about 35 feet farther than I.