December 7, 2007
Arkansas State University–Jonesboro

Holiday Greetings! I hope that each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and will have similar restful family time during the Christmas and New Year Season. Irene and I had a delightful Thanksgiving lunch with our church friends, Professor Dan Ross, his wife Ann, and their family. The food was unbelievable (salads of all descriptions, smoked and baked turkey, dressing with giblet gravy, ham, vegetables tastefully cooked, and desserts to die for!) and the conversation was even better. We even had a tour of Dan’s metal-working shop, where he tools and constructs machines that make reeds for oboes. Dan’s youngest brother, Bill, from Atlanta, also gave us a "gift for the office," a toy rooster that makes screeching noises when picked up by the neck! This was our twin granddaughters’ favorite toy when they visited us last week!

Upcoming Campus Administrative Changes
Today, December 7, I am on the ASU campus in Heber Springs for the quarterly meeting of our Board of Trustees. In my report to the Board, I am describing a number of personnel and other changes that will occur on our campus during the second semester. I want to share those and other items of interest on the Board agenda with you.

First, the Board will consider today a resolution and procedure proposed by President Wyatt, after extensive consultation, to transfer the management of the Marked Tree Technical Center from our campus to the Newport campus. This is being done because of the belief that workforce development in our region is of increasing importance, and that the two-year college model is more suited to governing and modernizing a technical and vocational institute than is a research university. In the guidelines for implementing this change, there are provisions preventing duplication of ASUJ courses or diminishing ASUJ general credit hour production, while permitting further development of Associate of Applied Science and Technical Certificate programs by what will now be known as the ASU Technical Center.

Second, the hiring of Dr. Dan Howard as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, the retirement of Dr. Rick McDaniel from the position of Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, and the transfer of Mr. Jennus Burton (with his assistant, Ms. Joyce Coleman), to the System Office as ASU System Vice President for Operations has necessitated some transfers of administrative responsibilities on our campus effective January 1, 2008 (Jo LunBeck and Rhonda Keith will also transfer to the System Office, but their move of the auditing function there will relieve us from continuing to perform that task on our campus).

My hope in proceeding with these changes is to obtain the optimum fit between the qualifications of the persons and the jobs to be done while minimizing administrative expenses as prudent and possible, and at the same time emphasizing that these jobs exist only to serve our students, faculty and publics and to foster ASUJ’s teaching, research, economic development and other service goals.

Dr. Howard and I have asked Dr. Glen Jones, who has done a superb job as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, to transfer into the role of Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research and also to continue his duties as Executive Assistant to the Chancellor for Diversity and service on the Executive Council, with his physical office being located in the Academic Affairs and Research suite. Also, we are advertising for an Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research whose primary duties will be to manage the significant ramp-up of our international recruiting and enrollment and other international programs envisioned under Dr. Howard’s overall leadership and whose office will be located in the International Student Center.

In the division of Finance and Administration, pending a search planned to begin early next fall during the prime higher education recruiting season, I am appointing Mr. Ed Kremers, currently Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, to serve as Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, with some changed responsibilities for that position, since Mr. Jennus Burton in his system position will retain his oversight of ASUJ facilities master plan implementation and building construction. (At my request, Dr. Les Wyatt also continues to have a primary role in this area). Dr. JW Mason, Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration, and Mr. Russ Hannah, Controller, will be asked to assume some additional duties currently being performed by Mr. Ed Kremers, and a new accounting position to assist Mr. Hannah will be created and advertised. Russ’s new title will be Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Controller. The net result of this will be some salary savings for our campus since the duties of Jennus Burton that remain on campus will be assumed by these existing good people.

Third, Mr. Steve Owens has recently accepted a full-time position with the ASU Foundation effective January 1. On a temporary basis, the division directors in Advancement will report directly to me. After appropriate consultation, a search is planned for an experienced person to lead our capital campaign, to assist our excellent Development team already in place, and possibly to head the entire Advancement area.

Thus, the old adage that the only constant in higher education is change rings true again. I am deeply grateful to all the individuals mentioned above who have agreed to assume new or changed duties, and for Rick, Jennus and Steve’s many years of service to ASUJ. I ask your advice, counsel and support as our University transitions more fully to a system organization, but with appropriate campus autonomy and expanded scope, size and quality. Truly, this is an exciting time to be at ASUJ, with many good things in process, and many excellent people working toward common goals.

Curricular Changes in the College of Engineering
On the Board’s agenda today are four carefully crafted resolutions proposing to convert our single Bachelor of Science in Engineering with areas of concentration in Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering to a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and to add a Master of Engineering Management.

These new programs, if approved by the ASU Board of Trustees, and thereafter by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, when implemented by the College of Engineering, will no doubt make our engineering programs much more attractive to highly qualified students, particularly those from abroad who wish to study Engineering in the United States. Thanks are due to Dean Greg Phillips and to Dr. Rick Clifft and the faculty and staff of the College of Engineering for their good work in bringing forward these new curricular proposals.

The Education Trust
During my first year at ASUJ, which I completed on November 15, I intentionally restricted my travel away from the campus in order to concentrate on learning as much as I could about the campus and its people, and focusing on areas that my visits around campus indicated needed attention and where I possibly could help bring positive change. However, I did schedule a trip in November to the annual meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), an organization on whose board I have served, and which I have found over the years to be very helpful in highlighting national issues of importance in higher education that can have a very practical application at the campus level.

This year, at that meeting, Kati Haycock, President of The Education Trust, gave an outstanding presentation about what we in higher education can do about the achievement gaps in our K-12 schools that result in the need for much remediation in science, English, and math areas when American students enroll in college. For example, here on our campus, we are seeing almost half (47%) of our freshmen requiring at least some remediation before they are prepared for university work. Kati, with whom I had an opportunity to work on a P-16 initiative in North Dakota, has amazing ability to summarize complex data in easily understandable form to highlight trends, problems and accomplishments in American education. In the presentation at AASCU, she gave the good news that national efforts over the past decade are beginning to show some positive results with elementary and middle school students, but that does not hold true for high schools, where value added is actually declining. She pointed out with data in mathematics from other OECD countries where the U.S. ranks 24th out of 29, that our results can be vastly improved. She gave a number of ways that we in higher education can help reverse that disturbing trend, particularly in the teacher education area. If you are interested, see her complete presentation, located at

Best Wishes for the Holidays
Irene and I want to take this opportunity to thank you very much for your excellent work during 2007 and especially for your kindness to us during our first year as a part of the wonderful ASU community. Our family extends to yours best wishes for the holidays and a superb New Year!

Robert L. Potts

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