June 1, 2007
Arkansas State University – Jonesboro

Summer greetings! I hope each of you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Irene and I attended a family reunion in North Alabama that had been planned exquisitely by two of my nieces who live and work in Houston, Texas, with their families. Both are engineers and accordingly planned the event to the last detail. The reunion was held on Sunday afternoon in honor of my father, age 92, and my mother, age 88, both in relatively good health. Participating in addition to Irene and me were my brother and three sisters and their spouses (and in one case a significant other), our children (seven in all) and their spouses, and ten great grandchildren (half of those being our grandchildren!) A great time was had by all. This occasion made me again recognize how important family time is for each of us, and how we must make sure that we carve out enough time in our busy lives to keep our family ties strong.

It is great to have some students and faculty back on campus for the first summer session, which began this week. For those of you doing other things, we look forward to seeing you during the second session, or next fall.

Today, our ASU Board of Trustees is meeting on campus. It occurred to me that perhaps a good subject for this issue of First Friday would be the written report that I have prepared for the Board outlining some of the activities of our various divisions over the last quarter. It is set out in full below. In accordance with past practice, I do not intend to prepare First Friday reports in July and August, but will issue periodic short reports on issues of interest to the campus community if noteworthy events occur during the remainder of the summer.


June 1, 2007

Chancellor’s Report
Arkansas State UniversityJonesboro

The campus of Arkansas State University-Jonesboro has been an exciting place to be since my report to you at your March 9, 2007, meeting. Our excellent faculty, staff, students, and administration have continued to work together to accomplish significant things during the past quarter.

Academic Affairs and Research

  • On Saturday, May 5, 2007, 1,008 students were awarded diplomas during the ASUJ commencement ceremonies. Governor Beebe gave a moving and heartfelt speech at the 10 a.m. session, which was videotaped and shown at the 2 p.m. session. Additionally, he was very pleased to receive the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree bestowed upon him during the ceremony.
  • The Research and Academic Affairs division has changed (subject to Board approval at this meeting) its name to Academic Affairs and Research to emphasize the broad scope of this division in the academic life of the university, while also recognizing its important research mission.
  • The Academic Affairs and Research division has had a change in leadership with Dr. Susan Allen, former vice chancellor, returning to full-time research and teaching as a Distinguished Professor of Laser Applications and Science in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. This new appointment will be fully effective on August 15, 2007, and in the meantime, Dr. Allen is serving as Senior Advisor to the Chancellor. Dr. Glen Jones has been named Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research and is also chairing a committee that is conducting a national search for a successor to Dr. Allen in the role of vice chancellor.
  • On April 10, 2007, Academic Affairs and Research celebrated the 29th annual Faculty Honors Convocation in the Fowler Center Grand Hall to recognize retiring faculty and to award outstanding faculty for excellence in teaching, research, service, and advising. The Board of Trustees Faculty Achievement Awards were presented to Mrs. Cathy Hall, Dr. Richard K. Freer, and Dr. Patrick A. Stewart. The Outstanding Advising Award was presented to Dr. Melodie Philhours. Six faculty members are retiring and were recognized for their many years of splendid service to ASU: Dr. Cindy Albright, Dr. William Crumpton, Dr. James Greenwald, Dr. Jerry Linnstaedter, Dr. Dennis White, and Dr. George Grant.
  • The 29th Annual Convocation of Scholars ceremonies were conducted in April by the campus colleges to honor students’ academic achievements for the 2006-07 academic year. Numerous banquets and luncheons were held throughout the campus during a week-long period. Parents, relatives, faculty, alumni, administrators, staff members and friends participated in the festivities. At these occasions, departmental awards were also presented.
  • A group of subcommittees of The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association Task Force have been busy preparing draft reports for a focused visit by the HLC that is now scheduled for March 3-4, 2008. These reports will be finalized during the fall 2007 semester. The areas that will be covered during this visit include strategic planning and shared governance. In both areas much progress has been made by the university over the past several months. Assessment processes and procedures is an area that previously was included as a topic for this visit, but that topic has been removed as a subject of the visit because of ASUJ joining the HLC Academy for Assessment of Student Learning. A team from our campus also participated in a three-day roundtable event with the Academy for Assessment.
  • You have before you today a resolution approving changes to the Faculty Handbook. The changes are the result of a collaborative process that occurred over the course of the past semester. An ad hoc drafting group consisting of Dr. Mike McDaniel, Dr. Mitch Holifield, Ms. Julie Isaacson, Dr. Glen Jones, Ms. Lucinda McDaniel, and Dr. Susan Allen, along with the chancellor, proposed revisions to the Foreword and Section I of the Handbook. These revisions were favorably considered by the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association, Academic Governance Oversight Committee, Institutional Governance Oversight Committee, Academic Deans Council, and Chairs Council in accordance with the procedures for changing the Handbook that are included in the current version thereof. All faculty members and others who worked on this project are to be commended for coming together in a very special way to suggest these constructive changes.

Student Affairs

  • The Transfer Enrollment Task Force has been formed to suggest methods of improving the number of transfer enrollments at ASUJ. The task force has already met twice in the past quarter.
  • During the spring semester, a new recruiting event for admitted students and their families was held on campus. A total of 190 students and 250 family members participated from throughout the state. These potential students were given priority registration, had campus tours, met with campus organizational representatives, spoke with staff members, and had their ASU ID cards made. These and other similar activities should lead to a higher "yield rate" for students admitted to ASUJ, but who have not yet enrolled.
  • Minority students who were nominated by the high school counselors attended a Junior Discover Diversity Leadership weekend on the ASUJ campus in April.
  • As a result of the Virginia Tech massacre, the Executive Council and personnel from Student Affairs and Financial Affairs areas, including the university chief of police, have met to make certain that our procedures for dealing with man-made or natural disasters are the best that they can be in a free society. This involves some additional university police officer training, additional security cameras, and perhaps new warning or communication devices or systems on the campus.
  • Mr. Morgan Pippin was elected as President and Mr. Jerome Thomas was elected Vice President of the Student Government Association for the 2007-08 year. A Graduate Student Council has been activated for our growing graduate student population. Andrew Peck is serving as President of that group. The SGA and the GSC are serving together with one collective vote on the advisory search committee for the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research. The administration looks forward to working with these new student leaders.

University Advancement

  • The Compass Group has completed on-campus interviews for development of a capital campaign plan with their final report due within the immediate future. All of the design work and goals for the campaign case statement should be completed by August 15 and a steering committee is being formed to help with the recruitment of volunteers for the upcoming campaign.
  • Fundraising to complete the Cooper Alumni Center continues. Current outstanding pledges for the next phase total approximately $500,000. Proposals for gift opportunities in the facility are in the process of being presented and total approximately $1.5 million. The Alumni Association has also committed $500,000 from its own resources toward this project. There is a target completion date of June 30, 2008. The Sustaining Life Membership program, which was developed to assist with this fundraising, to date has more than $225,000 in pledges committed.
  • At the District IV CASE conference, the staff of the Publication and Creative Services department received a gold award and bronze awards for the Powering Minds institutional image campaign.
  • Lindsay Burnett has been employed as a development officer assigned primarily to the College of Business and is already becoming an effective member of the advancement team.
  • Contributions made to the ASU Foundation through March 31, 2007, total $2.8 million. Total support from all sources (including investment income of approximately $3.7 million and contributions directly to the university of approximately $500,000) total $6.8 million. On March 31, net assets of the Foundation totaled $43.3 million, representing a 13.2 percent increase for the fiscal year to date.


  • The immediate past Board chair, Jim Pickens, kindly agreed to chair a Mascot Review Committee, which held its first meeting on May 14. The committee consists of 34 individuals appointed by the chancellor representing a broad variety of university constituencies. The next meeting is scheduled for June 18, and it is quite likely that a recommendation from the committee will be forthcoming shortly after that meeting. We are deeply indebted to Mr. Pickens and the other members of the committee for the time and effort devoted to this important matter.
  • The Sun Belt Conference held its annual meeting May 20-24 in Sandestin, Florida. The 13 institutions comprising the Sun Belt Conference all had representatives there, including most of the chief executive officers. One of the most important items on the agenda of the conference was the "Wyatt Report." President Wyatt chaired a committee of several chief executive officers that for several months studied ways to improve the standing, reputation and the performance of the conference compared with the other Division I conferences. The goal is to have the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball to be ranked among the top 10 of the 31 Division I conferences annually. To reach that success level, the committee identified components of successful athletic programs all member schools need to reach and recognized that to some extent these were aspirational goals and at least a 3-year phase-in period was necessary. In the final report, there was an emphasis on men and women’s basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball, and women’s soccer. Included in the report were goals for athletic performance, academic progress by student athletes, scheduling, recruiting, attendance, staff, and ticket sales.

    Obviously, one of our campus concerns is the potential for any increased costs that will be incurred by implementation of the report recommendations. One particular provision relating to the number of sports that each participating university must sponsor created heartburn for a number of campuses because it would have required several, including ASUJ, to add an additional sport at a significant cost. Fortunately, after discussion, this provision was deleted and the number of sports in which the conference offers championships required by the conference remains at 15 per institution, with which ASU currently complies.

    It is very clear that in order to reach the goals for our campus, increased athletic revenues are going to be necessary through increased ticket sales in the major sports and through other types of athletic fundraising. The director of athletics has been charged with overseeing this increased emphasis on athletic department self-sufficiency as we move forward to a new level of sports and student athlete achievement at ASUJ.
  • The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA), an alliance with 55 Division I-A faculty senates, whose articulated mission is to provide a national faculty voice on intercollegiate sport issues, has recently issued a draft report titled, "Framing the Future: Reforming Intercollegiate Athletics," which contains a number of suggestions from faculty leaders around the country concerning athletic department governance and operation.

Finance and Administration

  • ASU-Jonesboro anticipates receiving 54.46% of its budgeted educational and general income from the State of Arkansas for the 2006-2007 fiscal year which ends on June 30. Fortunately, state revenues this fiscal year increased by 5.246% the first 10 months from fiscal year 2005-2006, allowing all of Category A, B, and C funds from the Revenue Stabilization Act to flow. This increased ASUJ funding from $60,582,755 to $61,163,709.
  • ASUJ has a total of 14 capital projects in various stages of development. The Capital Project report in your board materials gives you much more information on these projects.
  • Architects and contractors have been selected for the three projects you approved at your March 9, 2007 board meeting, namely the Student Recreation Center, the Honors Hall, and the Student Apartments. The bonds for these projects are scheduled to be issued next week. Additionally, funding is anticipated within the near future for an academic building on campus.
  • Design planning is underway by university committees for the new campus buildings currently funded and under development.

Thank You
That concludes my Chancellor's Report to the Board of Trustees.  I hope you find this and other reports helpful. Have a great summer!


Robert L. Potts

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