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JONESBORO, Ark. – Arkansas State University System President Charles L. Welch today named Dr. Doug Whitlock, President Emeritus of Eastern Kentucky University, to serve as interim chancellor of Arkansas State University effective Sept. 12.
Whitlock, 73, has 45 years of higher education experience in administrative and teaching roles at Eastern Kentucky in Richmond and retired in 2013 after serving six years as president. After initially retiring from the university, he was asked to return and serve as interim president in 2007 and later was named to the position permanently.
“Doug has all the experience and character traits that I was hoping to find when I began this search,” Welch said. “His academic and administrative background comes from an institution very comparable to Arkansas State. I spoke to faculty, staff and Regents at Eastern Kentucky who praised his work in shared governance, his commitment to collaboration and consensus building, and described him as very approachable.”
Eastern Kentucky, with an enrollment of approximately 16,500 students and an annual operating budget of over $350 million, expanded doctoral programs, online programs, and international studies during Whitlock’s tenure. Welch said EKU and A-State have many similarities that will enable Whitlock to address both growth opportunities and challenges.
“By all accounts, he brought a sense of calmness to the Eastern Kentucky campus during a challenging time in its history, and I’m confident he can do the same at A-State,” Welch added. “When I heard comments like ‘you won’t find anyone better’ and ‘most adored president we have ever had’ from both faculty and administrators at a major public university, I knew Doug would be an ideal choice. After reading the comments of faculty member Malcolm Frisbee upon Doug’s retirement, I really knew he was the right person for the job.”
Frisbee was quoted at the time of Whitlock’s retirement as saying, “His presidency is one in which issues have been discussed openly among faculty, staff, students. What he’s been able to do is unleash the power of the university. These have been very tough years for higher education … but I think he’s had us looking forward, being positive, being innovative, and he’s done it superbly.”
After serving as a captain in the U.S. Army, Whitlock joined EKU in 1968 as director of publications. He was director of public information from 1971-76, executive assistant to the president from 1976-98, and vice president for administrative affairs from 1998-2003. He retired from full-time work but taught computer science until 2006. Most recently, he has worked as an associate with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Penson Center for Professional Development, a higher education consulting firm.
A first-generation college graduate, Whitlock received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and social science from EKU in 1965. He earned his Master of Education degree from EKU in 1966 and his Doctor of Education in higher education administration from the University of Kentucky in 1981.
“I am honored and very excited about the opportunity to serve Arkansas State University as its interim chancellor,” Whitlock said. “I have had other opportunities to serve in interim roles, but this is the first that has truly appealed to me. Arkansas State University has an excellent reputation and is similar, in many respects, to Eastern Kentucky University where I spent my career.
“Joanne and I look forward to this next adventure in our lives, and we intend to be visible, active members of the A-State and Jonesboro communities,” he added. “I am eager to get there and begin getting to know the faculty, staff, student body, alumni and friends of this great institution.”
Whitlock initiated and oversaw capital, regional stewardship, student success and academic research projects that have defined EKU. Some of those projects include Kentucky’s second-largest performing arts center and the New Science Building, both of which opened in 2011; the innovative Noel Studio for Academic Creativity; and the Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies.
During Whitlock’s tenure, Eastern Kentucky garnered several national honors, including: designations by Forbes and U.S. News as being among America’s best colleges; distinctions as a community-engaged university by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Washington (DC) Monthly magazine; and recognition for two consecutive years as one of America’s “Great Colleges to Work For,” including 2010’s designation as an Honor Roll institution, by the Chronicle of Higher Education. EKU was also recognized as a veterans-friendly campus by G.I. Jobs magazine and a national No. 1 “Best for Vets” ranking two times in a three-year period from Military Times EDGE magazine.
Whitlock and his wife, Joanne, will relocate to Jonesboro and live in the Chancellor’s Residence.
Welch reiterated previous comments that the interim chancellor will not be a candidate for the permanent position. A national search will be conducted in spring 2017.
Whitlock’s agreement for the interim position includes an annual salary of $305,000 prorated over the term of the agreement, which ends June 30, 2017, but allows for additional interim time if necessary.