FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On May 3, the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith announced the five finalists in its search for a new provost.

According to a press release, the university secured the services of the Academic Career and Executive Search (ACES) firm to conduct a national search in February of 2022, after long-time provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs Dr. Georgia Hale announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2022 fiscal year.

An internal search committee comprised of faculty, staff, students, and administration has worked closely with the firm to oversee the final selection of candidates. The internal committee includes members of the university’s three governing bodies: faculty senate, staff senate, and student government, as well as a faculty athletic representative and a representative from the university’s AAUP (American Association of University Professors) chapter.

The finalists include:

  • Dr. Jordan Barkley, Senior Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Administration in the Division of Academic Affairs at Tarleton State University
  • Dr. Vijaya Gompa, Dean and Professor of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Johnson C. Smith University
  • Dr. Chad Hargrave, Associate Provost and Chief Research Officer for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Sam Houston State University
  • Dr. Scott McKay, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Texas Permian Basin, current position
  • Dr. Shadow Robinson, Dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin

Each of the finalists will spend three days on the UAFS campus, during which time they will meet with faculty, staff, students, and university administration. Each finalist will also hold a public presentation on campus addressing how, as provost, they would prepare the university for successful reaffirmation of academic accreditation and how to address the challenges they might expect a regional university like UAFS to face during the reaccreditation process. These public presentations will be open to all members of the university and the River Valley community, and all presentations will be live-streamed and recorded.

“Filling the position of Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs is key to the long-term success of UAFS,” said Dr. Ken Warden, associate vice chancellor for legislative affairs and compliance, who is chairing the search, “We need a strategic individual whose values align with those of our institution, and who will motivate, support, and inspire the exceptional faculty and staff to best serve our students and our community.”

“With the help of ACES, our committee has searched across the nation and narrowed the field of candidates to this highly qualified group of finalists,” said Warden. “I could not be more proud of the hard work and diligence displayed by this committee, and I’m honored to serve as their chair.”

The university expects the hiring process to be complete before June 30.