University of Arkansas names finalists in search for new chancellor

(From left) Charles F. Robinson, Jay T. Akridge, Daniel A. Reed, Cynthia Y. Young (Courtesy)

Officials have released the names of the four finalists in the University of Arkansas’s search for a new chancellor.

The group includes current interim chancellor Charles F. Robinson, alongside Jay Akridge from Purdue University, Daniel Reed from the University of Utah, and Cynthia Young from Clemson University.

The finalists will each visit campus for two days of meetings with students, faculty, staff and university stakeholders. As part of their visit, each candidate will participate in a public forum on campus that will also be live streamed and recorded for the campus community.

Chancellor finalist forums

Each forum will take place in the Faulkner Performing Arts Center on the UA campus from 10:30–11:30 a.m. on the following days:

Sept. 12 – Charles F. Robinson, Ph.D., interim chancellor, University of Arkansas (Zoom link)
Sept. 14 – Jay T. Akridge, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Purdue University (Zoom link)
Sept. 16 – Daniel A. Reed, Ph.D., presidential professor of computational science, University of Utah (Zoom link)
Sept. 19 – Cynthia Y. Young, Ph.D., founding dean of the College of Sciences, Clemson University (Zoom link)

Each candidate was selected by UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt with help from search committee chaired by UA engineering Dean Kim Needy.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that these four distinguished individuals have accepted our invitation to visit the University of Arkansas as finalists in the search for our next chancellor,” said Bobbitt in an announcement.

“A national leadership search presents an opportunity to test the reputational quality of an institution, and the quality and diversity of our four finalists show that the U of A is very well regarded on the national stage. I want to especially thank Dean Kim Needy and our search committee members for their hard work and dedication to this process, which has yielded a strong result heading into these campus visits. We look forward to getting to know the finalists more in the coming weeks.”

Read more about the finalists below, in order of their scheduled forums.

Charles F. Robinson

Named interim chancellor in August 2021, Robinson has served in numerous roles at the UA during the past 23 years, beginning as an assistant professor of history in 1999 and including director of the African and African American Studies Program, vice provost for diversity, vice chancellor for student affairs, and as provost and executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. During his time at the U of A, he has led several projects focused on student recruitment and success, including a college readiness program for underrepresented students, a major restructuring of the Division of Student Affairs and a $10 million scholarship effort for first-generation, low-income Arkansans. Robinson holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Houston, a master’s degree in history from Rice University, and a doctorate in history from the University of Houston.

Jay T. Akridge

Akridge serves as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity at Purdue University, with a faculty appointment as professor of agricultural economics. He leads the academic enterprise of the university with a total budget of approximately $1.8 billion, student enrollment of more than 50,000, 2,700 faculty members and 8,000 staff. As provost, he has led the university’s enrollment growth initiative, and expanded undergraduate enrollment from 31,000 in 2017 to near 38,000 in 2022. Formerly the dean of agriculture at Purdue for more than eight years, Akridge earned a bachelor’s in agriculture and business administration from Murray State University before completing his master’s and doctorate in agriculture economics at Purdue.

Daniel A. Reed

Reed is the presidential professor in computational science at the University of Utah, where he previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. He helped launch the For Utah scholarship, which diversified the student body and broadened access for first generation students and spearheaded the 1U4U cross-campus research initiative. Previously, Reed was the university chair in computational science and bioinformatics and professor of computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and medicine at the University of Iowa, where he was vice president for research and economic development. Reed is also the former corporate vice president for technology policy and extreme computing for Microsoft. He earned a bachelor’s in computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology and a master’s and Ph.D. in computer science at Purdue University.

Cynthia Y. Young

Young is the founding dean of Clemson University’s new College of Sciences where she has led the effort to create the college’s strategic roadmap, SCIForward, and worked to increase student success and elevate Clemson’s status as an R1 institution through increased faculty productivity and doubled external research funding. Previously, Young spent 20 years at the University of Central Florida where she served in several leadership roles, including as vice provost for faculty excellence and UCF Global, associate dean for the College of Sciences and cofounder of the UCF EXCEL student retention program. Young earned her bachelor’s in education from the University of North Carolina and a master’s in mathematical science from UCF before completing a master’s in electrical engineering and Ph.D. in applied mathematics at the University of Washington.