University of Arkansas Chancellor resigns after questionable photos surface on social media

Northwest Arkansas News

Resignation comes just days after KNWA asked UA to explain an online account containing provocative photos, appearing to show chancellor

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz has resigned.

In an email to students Thursday, Steinmetz said his resignation will be effective Friday, June 18. He did not give a reason.

“I still strongly believe in the mission of higher education, yet given the many challenges found trying to manage a university in today’s polarized society, I need to do what’s best for my family and I feel ready to make way for others,” he wrote.

Chancellor Steinmetz sent an email to students Thursday, announcing his resignation

Steinmetz’s resignation comes just hours after a special meeting held by the UA Board of Trustees, during which members entered an executive session, which is typically done when discussing personnel matters. Immediately following that meeting, board members told reporters there was, “no action taken.”

Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz

“In my annual commencement address, I sometimes tell graduates that the key to a purposeful and enriching life is to find a career that creates deeply meaningful work and not to settle for anything less,” Steinmetz said. “For the past 38 years, higher education has been not only my vocation, but my absolute commitment. My wife Sandy is the reason I get up in the morning, but the promise of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement has kept me returning to the office day after day, year after year — steadfast in my belief of the power of higher education to improve lives.”

Steinmetz took over as chancellor at the Fayetteville campus on Jan. 1, 2016, coming from Ohio State University, where he was the school’s chief academic officer. He also worked at the University of Kansas and Indiana University.

A nationally recognized behavioral neuroscientist, Steinmetz earned degrees at Central Michigan University and a doctorate from Ohio University.

Neither the university nor Steinmetz cited a reason for the resignation, which comes just days after KNWA asked the university to explain an online account containing provocative photos, appearing to show the University of Arkansas chancellor.

UA spokesperson Mark Rushing has denied the photos are of Chancellor Steinmetz.

In a phone call with KNWA, Rushing called it, “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 added, “It’s never been easier to make very persuasive fake photos and video, to the point of Photoshop can be used to add in or take out the most minute detail.”

Rushing claims the university contacted Twitter about the account, which appeared to have been created in July 2017, and disappeared about 20 minutes after KNWA first contacted the chancellor’s office.

KNWA attempted to contact Chancellor Steinmetz Thursday with no luck.

Stay with KNWA & FOX24 for more updates on this developing story.

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