President of University of Arkansas System gets 2-year contract renewal

Courtesy, University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas System’s president will keep his job for two more years with no pay raise, under a contract extension approved this week.

The system’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday for the contract renewal for Donald Bobbitt, 66, who described the deal as “very fair” for all involved, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

“I’m honored and thrilled the board has this faith in me,” Bobbitt said. “I know not everyone on the board always agrees with me on everything, but I’m thankful for the honest feedback I’ve gotten.”

The extension would take effect at the end of 2023. Specifics in the extension will be written by the system’s general counsel, and both Bobbitt and the board will have to approve it.

Under the new deal, there’s no salary increase for Bobbitt, who currently earns a base salary of $510,000, plus deferred compensation. It does, however, include a provision where Bobbitt could be terminated with 90 days of notice, and Bobbitt would need to give six months’ notice to depart his position, Morril Harriman, the board’s chairman, told the newspaper.

Bobbitt, who began his tenure in the role Nov. 1, 2011, has faced opposition recently over his handling of a potential affiliation between the system and the University of Phoenix, one of the nation’s largest for-profit college companies. He’s also been critiqued for last year’s search for the next chancellor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, the system’s flagship.

On Thursday, Bobbitt acknowledged the public criticism of his leadership, but said it’s been overshadowed by the number of encouraging messages he’s received.

The extension also affirmed Bobbitt’s appointment as a tenured professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He can return to that role when his tenure as president ends if he wishes.