FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz abruptly resigned from his University of Arkansas post Thursday, giving a one-day notice. Friday, June 18 was his last day on the job.
The incoming UA student body president said he hopes the school can move on, building on the progress achieved during Steinmetz’s tenure.
The resignation came just a few days after KNWA & FOX24 asked the U of A to explain a social media account that showed nude images of a person appearing to be Steinmetz.
In a phone call with KNWA last week, UA spokesperson Mark Rushing called the ordeal, “an obvious attack” and “a hoax.” He cited other “deep fakes” as examples of the extreme lengths some people go to in order to embarrass others on social media.
Rushing issued an updated statement on Friday evening:
Dr. Steinmetz has since resigned and as he stated last Friday, he continues to maintain that he is not the source of the postings. Dr. Steinmetz has stated that it’s not him in the photos, that they were Photoshopped. He says he has been considering resigning for some time in light of the difficult environment that he referred to in his resignation announcement. Further questions should be directed to the former chancellor.Mark Rushing, UA Spokesperson
KNWA attempted reach Steinmetz by phone Friday with no luck.
Coleman Warren, the incoming UA Student Body President, said he met with the chancellor often over the past several months.
“He was really generous with his time,” Warren said. “We talked about how we’re still moving forward with a lot of the initiatives [from the last year].”
The U of A said Steinmetz led the school to strong retention and graduation rates. The school also credited his leadership as the university surpassed its billion-dollar fundraising goal.
Over the past year, however, controversy became common.
In 2020, many Black students spoke out on social media about their negative experiences at UA. Protests erupted in 2021 after the school paid $20,000 to a man to settle a Title IX lawsuit about a sexual assault investigation. Just last week, the chancellor sparred with state legislators about the removal of the Senator J. William Fulbright statue, currently near Old Main.
“Sometimes, it felt like the response wasn’t what the student body was expecting out of the chancellor, hoping to see out of him,” Warren said. “Still, the movement of the statue was controversial in its own right.”
Warren said he hopes the acting chancellor, set to be named next week, will listen to students on key issues and redirect the university’s focus.
“I want to see a chancellor who takes what the students are feeling seriously, considering we’re the driving force of this institution,” Warren said.