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Arts and Sciences | NewsApril 30, 2024

Alexander to Serve as Next Dean of Arts and Sciences

Written By: Rachel Putman

The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith has announced Dr. Toni Alexander as its new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Alexander, a seasoned academic leader, will assume her new role on July 8, 2024, following a comprehensive national search.

"I'm honored to be invited to join such a dynamic institution and community,” Alexander said. “Being able to return to a College of Arts & Sciences at a student-centered institution like the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith feels like returning to my academic roots after many years away.  Not only does this opportunity allow me that chance to support, collaborate with, and learn from students, faculty, and staff across the heart of the institution, but also contribute to the larger region."

Dr. Alexander transitions to UAFS from her role as Chairperson and Professor in the Department of History and Anthropology at Southeast Missouri State University. Her prior positions span across prestigious institutions including Auburn University where she was the Associate Chairperson for Geography, and Kansas State University where she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor.

The search process for the new dean, which culminated in four on-campus interviews earlier this spring, involved students, faculty, and staff from across the campus community. UAFS Provost Dr. Shadow Robinson praised the process, saying "Dr. Alexander stood out among the candidates for her academic credentials and deep commitment to faculty and student success. Her collaborative approach will serve our community well, and I am grateful to the search committee for their work in identifying such an exceptionally well-suited candidate."

Throughout her career, Dr. Alexander has emphasized the importance of inclusive and comprehensive learning environments. “At my core, I believe in a robust educational experience that equips students to thrive both in and out of the classroom. As faculty, we strive not only to teach but to transform,” she said. “I measure my success by the successes of my students, faculty, and staff.”

Having served as a member of the faculty herself, Dr. Alexander approaches her current role with an appreciation for complex challenges of the role of faculty, advocating fiercely for open communication, transparency, and trust. “Faculty and staff members each have unique contributions to make to the university as a whole – strengths that should be drawn upon not only to allow them to be effective, but also fulfilled their careers,” she said “This means promoting a culture of inclusion and productivity for all.”

Transparency and effective communication are key to creating a trusting and collaborative environment, she added, saying “Shared governance can’t thrive if information isn’t provided to all constituencies,” she continued. “As a leader, it is critical to listen and actively seek input on how to best invest our resources and our time.”

Her engagement with students is equally remarkable, shaped by her own experiences as a first-generation college student. Dr. Alexander’s belief in comprehensive student support and the transformative power of higher education is evident in her approach to student success. “More than anything, my undergraduate experience opened my eyes to possibilities in my own life as an individual as well as my ability to impact the world around me for the positive. As the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences I am thrilled to build upon this commitment to students as well as the faculty and staff who support them.”

Outside of her campus constituents, Dr. Alexander has also demonstrated commitment to building relationships through alumni engagement, development work, and community engagement across the region. “I firmly believe that an academic leader must be embedded not only within the campus but also a visible and an active citizen within the surrounding community,” she said. “Students graduating from an institution should know that their education opens not only career possibilities but also carries the responsibility that they should give back to the communities they call home.”

 Reflecting on her holistic capabilities, Dr. Robinson added, "Dr. Alexander's vision aligns perfectly with our mission to empower students through education and active community participation, and I look forward to seeing the ways the College of Arts and Sciences grow under her leadership."

Dr. Alexander earned her Ph.D. in 2004 and her Master of Arts degree in1997, both from Louisiana State University, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994 from California State University - Stanislaus.

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  • Dean
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Arts and Sciences

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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