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Welch leaving Arkansas State University System for new job


ASU Mid-South chancellor wishes outgoing president well

By Ralph Hardin

The Arkansas State University System, which includes ASU Mid-South in West Memphis among its seven campuses, is losing ite leader.

On Tuesday, ASU System President Chuck Welch announced he resigning to take a new position as the new president and CEO of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, effective Jan. 15, 2024.

Welch was named the second president of the ASU System in November 2010 and officially began the position in April 2011. He will leave as the longest-tenured higher education president or chancellor in Arkansas, the university said in a news release.

“We are deeply saddened about Dr. Welch’s resignation as president of the ASU System, but we are excited for him and his family and the opportunity they have been given,” Clark said in the release. “Dr. Welch has provided the ASU System with exemplary leadership and has strengthened us in his tenure.

Under his leadership, the system has grown from four to seven member institutions plus a campus in Mexico. He has appointed each sitting chancellor and helped us improve and maintain our financial stability. In short, we are better today than when Dr.

Welch became president, and we are grateful for his exceptional service and dedication to the campuses we serve.”

Welch, who will relocate to Washington, D.C., is no stranger to AASCU, which has 350 member institutions.

He served as chair of its board of directors from 2019-2021, including being elected to a second term during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ASU System, based in Little Rock, serves almost 35,000 students annually and includes Arkansas State University, a four-year research institution in Jonesboro with an additional campus in Queretaro, Mexico, and Henderson State University, a four-year institution in Arkadelphia. The system’s two-year institutions include ASU-Beebe, with additional campuses in Heber Springs and Searcy; ASU-Mountain Home; ASU-Newport, with additional campuses in Jonesboro and Marked Tree; ASU Three Rivers in Malvern, with the Saline County Career Technical Campus in Benton; and ASU Mid-South in West Memphis.

ASU Mid-South Chancellor shared some kind words for Welch, with a little snark thrown in.

“Obviously, AASCU didn't ask my opinion of this hire, but I guess I have no choice but to pretend to be supportive, as they risk their hardearned organizational reputation by hiring this inexperienced and largely untested leader,” she quipped. “All kidding aside, AASCU's gain is the State of Arkansas's and the ASU System's loss. All of our colleges (even non-System ones) have benefited from Dr. Welch's integrity, leadership, and wisdom over the last 13 years, and I have personally benefited from his mentorship and friendship over the past nine. While those of us in the ASU System are in mourning today, we are optimistic about our collective future, thanks to our outstanding Board of Trustees and the solid foundation they and Dr.

Welch have put in place. We know Chuck's going to do great things as CEO of AASCU and we wish him all the best in that new role. (Or should I say we will, once we're all speaking to him again). We love you, Chuck!” Welch reflected on his time as president.

“It’s obviously a bittersweet career move for me,” Welch said. “I love the ASU System and the team we’ve put together, and I’m proud of our accomplishments. But this is a terrific opportunity with an organization I believe in, and I’m excited to promote the likes of AASCU member institutions like Arkansas State University and Henderson State University with this national higher education platform.

“America’s regional public colleges and universities are on the front lines of transforming public higher education, driving civic engagement and contributing to thriving local communities,” he said. “It’s an honor to join AASCU at a time when regional comprehensive universities are poised to make a critical impact. They serve our country’s fastest-growing demographics – from students of color and first-generation students to adult learners and transfer students – and create pathways to social and economic mobility. I look forward to working collaboratively with the board, the AASCU staff and our dedicated members to continue the vital work of telling the story of public higher education and moving our sector forward.”

Among the system’s major expansion initiatives under Welch’s leadership are the merger of Mid-South Community College in West Memphis (now ASU Mid-South); the opening of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State; opening of a $100 million privately funded A-State campus in Queretaro, Mexico; the merger of College of the Ouachitas in Malvern (now ASU Three Rivers); the merger of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia; and the publicprivate partnership to develop the Embassy Suites Hotel and Red Wolf Convention Center on the A-State campus.



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