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ASU System President Les Wyatt to step down; Chancellor Robert L. Potts to serve as interim System President

May 7, 2010 -- Dr. Les Wyatt, president of the Arkansas State University System, today announced his plans to step down from that position at the end of June, and the Dr. Les WyattBoard of Trustees subsequently moved to appoint ASU-Jonesboro Chancellor Robert L. Potts to serve as interim system president, effective July 1.

Florine Tousant Milligan of Forrest City, chair of the Board of Trustees, made the announcement following an executive session of the Trustees at the conclusion of their meeting today.

Also, Dr. Dan Howard, executive vice chancellor and provost, will become interim chancellor at ASU-Jonesboro, based on Dr. Potts’s recommendation to the Board.

The interim positions will be filled with permanent appointments after appropriate search processes.  Details concerning the transition will be announced as they are developed, according to Mrs. Milligan.

Dr. Wyatt made his plans public at the Board’s quarterly meeting on the Jonesboro campus, where he became president in 1995.  Among his many accomplishments, Wyatt led the process of organizing the six ASU campuses into a system organizational structure and then served as the system’s first president.

In recognition of his 15 years of leadership, the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution designating Wyatt as “President Emeritus” and citing his exemplary performance that has resulted in a vibrant and growing system of campuses and institutional sites with more than 20,000 students.

Wyatt commented, “I am very grateful for the involvement I have had with ASU over the past 15 years, and I deeply appreciate the Trustees’ support.”  He has told individual Board members that he is looking forward to pursuing some personal interests after he leaves the presidency.

Chancellor Potts has previous experience as chief executive of a state system of campuse
s, having served as chancellor of the North Dakota University System before Dr. Robert L. Pottscoming to ASU-Jonesboro.  Earlier in his career, he served as president of the University of North Alabama and as general counsel for the University of Alabama System.

Mrs. Milligan said that the Board looks forward to working with Dr. Potts as he continues to guide the ASU System as it matures and develops in the communities and the wide region served by the campuses at Jonesboro, Beebe, Mountain Home, Newport, Searcy and Heber Springs, along with instructional sites at Paragould, Marked Tree and Little Rock Air Force Base and degree centers in additional communities.

“We have been very impressed with the many successes and vigorous growth that have occurred at ASU-Jonesboro under the leadership of Robert L. Potts,” Mrs. Milligan said.  “We believe he is the right person to serve as interim System President at this time.”

Under Potts’s leadership as chancellor at ASU-Jonesboro, enrollment has grown 23 percent, annual fundraising has set new records, globalization initiatives have been extremely effective, annual research funding has grown significantly, and the campus shared governance system has thrived.

Chancellor Potts responded to the Board’s decision by acknowledging the work that has been accomplished and the work that lies ahead.

“From its inception, the Arkansas State University System has benefitted tremendously from the leadership of Dr. Les Wyatt,” Potts said.  “We want to continue building Arkansas State University’s capability to provide high quality higher education opportunities to our students, world-class research and outstanding public service, and we can do that by empowering the campuses to continue their expansion and quests for excellence.  I am humbled by the Board’s confidence, and I look forward to working with the trustees to achieve their vision for the university.  I also look forward to working collaboratively with and as an advocate for all of the campuses in the ASU System.”

Dr. Howard, who will serve as interim chancellor, came to ASU-Jonesboro in January of 2008.  Two of his most significant accomplishments, in addition to his vigorous advocacy for the academic and research mission, have been the development of the international program, which now enrolls approximately 800 students from 65 countries, and spearheading the establishment of online graduate education degree programs in which more than 1,500 students in more than 20 states participate.

Dr. Howard also has indicated that he intends to appoint Dr. Glen Jones as interim executive vice chancellor and provost, and to leave vacant for the time being Dr. Jones’s position as senior associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research.

Mrs. Milligan added, “The Board of Trustees is very appreciative to Chancellor Potts, Dr. Howard and Dr. Jones for their willingness to step in and serve the ASU System and the Jonesboro campus in their respective interim capacities.  We are confident that they will continue building on the tradition of excellence for which ASU is known.”

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