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Featured | NewsMay 23, 2022

Dr. Shadow Robinson Selected as Next UAFS Provost

Written By: Rachel Rodemann Putman

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Chancellor, Dr. Terisa Riley, announced this week the appointment of Dr. Shadow JQ Robinson as the next provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, effective July 1, 2022.

“Dr. Ken Warden and the members of our internal search committee did an outstanding job working with the Academic Career and Executive Search (ACES) search firm to attract, interview, and select a pool of exceptional candidates for this role,” said Riley in an email to the UAFS campus. “I am grateful for the diligence and dedication shown by so many of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators throughout this process. Their feedback was vital to selecting the right person to lead the university’s next chapter of Academic Affairs.”

“I am confident Dr. Robinson will add tremendous value to the university through his data-informed approach to academic affairs combined with an innovative and forward-looking way of doing business,” she continued. “He is an incredibly well-rounded person who leads with a passion for educating students and investing in the successes of faculty and staff. I am eager to work with him to advance the mission of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.”

Robinson, raised in rural Kentucky in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, said the Ozarks feel like home. And thanks to the work of those who come before him, he said, the UAFS campus and its position in the higher education landscape feel both inviting and inspiring.

“UAFS is dedicated to ensuring its graduates are ready to not only successfully enter the workplace but to adapt as changes in the workplace continue to accelerate,” he said. “The university is committed to economic development, working to support the companies and employers who provide the essential jobs in our region while helping bring in new opportunities. It is dedicated to improving the quality of life and place for citizens of the region, whether through the service of students, the hosting of cultural events and music and fine arts, or its commitment to the education and healthcare needs of the region.

“To me, this partnership between a community and a university represents the best of higher education. It is work I have been committed to for some time, and I am honored to support UAFS in continuing its success in this work.”

Robinson and Riley both noted that as the university embarks on developing its next strategic plan, it is a particularly invigorating time to become a Lion.

“UAFS is uniquely poised because, unlike many other regional public universities, UAFS has only been a four-year institution for 20 years,” Robinson said. “We have a chance to define ourselves in a way that meets the shared needs of our students and the surrounding region. We have the opportunity to be a national leader in how a university can nurture students in academic programs that respond to opportunities and align with the needs of the region. I think UAFS is ready to be that leader.”

Dr. Robinson currently serves as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin where he provides academic, administrative and financial leadership to more than 100 faculty and staff, with an annual budget of more than $6 million.

Since accepting the position in 2018, he has led multiple institution-altering initiatives, including the design and construction of the new Latimer Engineering and Science building, a $65 million, 120,000 sq ft lab and classroom facility. He also oversaw the programming, visioning, and fundraising for the Tennessee Entrepreneurial Science & Technology Hub. TEST Hub is an $18 million facility developed in a partnership between industry and educational institutions focused on meeting workforce and economic development needs in West Tennessee. He is actively engaged in cross-campus collaboration, co-chairing the strategic planning implementation team focused on academic excellence, developing a university-wide strategic enrollment plan, and supporting the strategy and philanthropic operations of the university’s advancement office.

Prior to his work at UT Martin, he held visiting positions at Lexington Community College and Eastern Kentucky University before joining the faculty at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana, in 2003. There he earned the Outstanding Teaching by New Faculty Award in 2008. At Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, he served as department chair, director of the James Observatory, director of the Compass Curriculum, and Faculty Council president.

The internal search committee that recommended Robinson, composed of faculty, staff, students, and administration, worked closely with the search firm to narrow more than 75 candidates to just over a dozen. Five of them visited campus. The committee included members of the university’s three governing bodies: faculty senate, staff senate and student government, as well as a faculty athletic representative and a representative from the university’s AAUP (American Association of University Professors) chapter.

“Through the national level search process with ACES, we were able to bring five highly skilled finalists to campus from a variety of backgrounds and academic stations,” said Dr. Ken Warden, associate vice chancellor for compliance and legislative affairs, who chaired the search. “We worked diligently to ensure all UAFS constituents had the opportunity to engage with each of them. The committee worked tirelessly to complete a thorough search, and the process resulted in a great hire with Dr. Robinson. His energy and excitement for our work is infectious. I think he is a perfect fit, poised to lead us into our next phase of greatness.”

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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