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Meet the Chancellor

terisa riley

Dr. Terisa C. Riley

Dr. Terisa C. Riley was named chancellor of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith by University of Arkansas System President Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt on April 16, 2019, and began her appointment on July 1 that year.

In her first year as chancellor, Dr. Riley made strides toward advancing shared governance, inclusive practices, student support, and fiscal responsibility at UAFS. She founded the inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and Institutional Budget Council; implemented a system of open forum discussions to increase access and accountability; and charted the course toward an institution of excellence and access that welcomes all who call it home.

An experienced higher education administrator, Dr. Riley spent more than 25 years serving in virtually every facet of higher education, from academics to administration, before taking the helm at UAFS. She previously served as senior vice president for student affairs and university administration at Texas A&M University – Kingsville. She has also held positions as chief student affairs officer, chief financial officer, chief administrator, and chief enrollment management officer.

“I enjoy every minute I spend working for and with college students, providing them access and opportunities to thrive. I am excited about the future of higher education, and I look forward to serving our students and our constituents by providing an excellent educational environment that betters their lives, careers, and communities.” - Dr. Terisa C. Riley.

Dr. Riley values public universities’ mission to provide excellent and affordable educational opportunities. She is deeply committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive campus environment where students and employees feel valued, welcomed, and supported.

Dr. Riley prioritizes communication, transparency, and shared governance and has collaborated with campus leaders and stakeholders to prepare and implement strategic plans to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. Over her career she has optimized spending practices, executed more than $250 million in construction and capital investment plans, and led universities to millions of dollars in savings through strategic investment in sustainable practices – bettering both the campuses she served and the planet.

She is dedicated to serving her community, currently serving on the board of directors of the Fort Smith Regional and Van Buren chambers of commerce, and the Fort Smith United Way; as well as the Fort Smith Regional Council, Lone Star Conference Chancellors and Presidents Board, Lone Star Conference Finance Committee, Arvest Bank Board and U.S. Marshalls Museum Board; and as chair of the University of Arkansas System Workday Steering Committee. 

Dr. Riley earned her bachelor’s degree in communication and master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Missouri at Columbia and her doctorate in higher education administration and research methodology from Saint Louis University. She is also a graduate of the National Police Institute and the Governor’s Executive Development Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Riley's CV is available here