Plan for My First 100 Days

December 2, 2022

I want to thank you for the notes, calls, texts and visits in the days since I was named chancellor. Despite being in the seat for the past 15 months and the fact that we, together, have not stopped advancing the mission of the University of Arkansas in that time, I assure you that I have emerged from the search process reinvigorated – and ready to get to work.

As we approach the end of the semester and look forward to fall commencement, I thought this would be a good time to share with you my plans for the coming few months and some key updates – call it my first 100 days plan, if you will, while continuing to prioritize the goals that I hope are already familiar to you: 

  • Advancing student success
  • Augmenting the research enterprise 
  • Making the university an employer of choice

1 – Fill Interim Appointments
(Starting Now) 

My first actions include appointing Terry Martin as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Ann Bordelon as Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. Terry’s appointment will provide much-needed continuity throughout our academic operation and enable us to get moving on several searches at the dean and vice provost levels, which will launch in the early spring semester. He has proven to be a great partner and steadfast steward of institutional resources, and I’m happy to have him on my leadership team. Ann’s appointment signals the significance of her leadership as an equal partner with the provost as well as the operational support of the entire finance and administration division. I have valued her expertise, candor and approach to all things related to financing and operating the institution. 

Soon after the December holidays, I will announce plans, committees and process details for filling interim vice chancellor positions on a long-term basis.

2 – Commence Strategic Planning Process
(Starting in December)

In the next two weeks, we will begin a strategic planning process. We will work with EAB, a higher education research group, to facilitate. The result will be an agile, focused, specific and inclusive strategy to support the advancement of the areas I mentioned before - advancing student success, augmenting the research enterprise and making the university an employer of choice. The plan will be grounded in research and data insights, best practices and determining the right fit for the University of Arkansas. Our timeline is ambitious, and we will share more about that soon, but suffice it to say, we are wasting no time from start to finish and expect to have the plan ready by the end of this academic year. 

3 – Launch a Fundraising Campaign for Arkansas Student Support
(Starting in February) 

Student success is a pillar of our land-grant mission. While the strategic planning process will focus on students, faculty and staff, I feel it is important to take action now to enhance our ability to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students. I am proud that we have invested more than $1 million in new scholarship support for Arkansans over the past 15 months but am keenly aware that the support isn’t enough to fill the gap between scholarship funding and cost of attendance for many Arkansans. Too often, highly qualified Pell-eligible Arkansans are lured to other institutions. To that end, I am designating a committee to develop a strategy for securing endowed resources for in-state students to better meet their financial challenges.

4 – Grow Tenure Track Faculty to Support Grad Students & Research
(Starting in January) 

A research institution is built on the work of faculty, post-docs and graduate students. Growing our tenure and tenure-track faculty will have a direct and measurable impact on our ability to conduct ground-breaking research and discovery in all disciplines. As our student body has grown, we need additional tenured and tenure-track faculty. We will develop a plan for supporting this growth through marshaling resources where possible, seeking endowments and other partnerships.

5 – Become an Employer of Choice by Defining Our Employee Value Proposition
(Starting in January) 

When a person chooses to work for the University of Arkansas, they are making a big commitment to us and the state. They should know what we value in them, and what they will gain from working with us. Developing an employee value proposition in conjunction with our staff classification and compensation realignment will advance our ambition to be an employer of choice. It will help define the characteristics and qualities we want to foster in our employees so that we can retain them, and so that we can attract additional talent with transparency and a shared vision. It’s about developing a philosophy and defining the essence of what it means to work for the U of A.

6 – Never Stop Engaging. 

I cannot be an effective chancellor sitting in my office all day — nor would I want to do that. I get my energy and inspiration from being engaged with students, faculty and staff, and kicking off a listening town hall series seems like a good way to launch the spring semester.  

I’m excited to kick off in January a series of town hall meetings and informal listening sessions with members of my leadership team to hear your thoughts on how best to achieve our goals, get your feedback on other areas we should prioritize and answer questions in real-time as we work to make the U of A even better. Opportunities for you to attend will be announced soon. 

There’s much more that I won’t go into here, but we’re planning some exciting things. American statesman Adlai Stevenson II once said, “though change is inevitable, change for the better is a full-time job.” We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I know the results will make it all worthwhile. 

Now, let’s finish the semester strong. Go Hogs!

Charles Robinson

Charles Robinson, Ph.D.