JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Arkansas State University system president Dr. Les Wyatt announced plans to resign from his position, effective June 30, at the quarterly Board of Trustees meeting Friday. Wyatt told board members and an audience that he would no longer serve as president and Dr. Robert Potts would serve as interim president of the ASU system.
"I could not do my job without the support of the Board of Trustees that have understood what we're trying to do and has encouraged us to try to achieve some of these objectives," said Wyatt. "I'm going to step away from the day to day requirements of being a president. It's a great job and I greatly enjoyed doing it."
Wyatt became president of Arkansas State University July 1, 1995. Since his acceptance of the position, he has helped the university implement a shared governance method, which allows chancellors to be included in official business.
"It really means that anybody who has a stake in an outcome has a say in the outcome and it's a chance for everybody to participate in the growth and development of the institution," said Wyatt.
Wyatt has also, with assistance of the Board of Trustees, increased interest in online courses, international studies and brought new technological advances to the institution.
"The thing that we do well and I'm proudest of for this institution is the work that we do with students," said Wyatt. "I have been proud to be associated with Arkansas State because of its attention to the students we serve."
Wyatt said he would like to pursue other interests. He said the university is looking at ways to reach students who can't afford to pay for college through online programs.
"I'm especially interested in students who represent an underserved part of the population. These are students who don't have the traditional typical access to a college education on a campus," said Wyatt. "It's that entire underserved group of students that I would like to devote the rest of my career to."
"What I'd like to do is to use these advocacy tools to begin to address the development of the technology based educational programs that I know we can do," said Wyatt.
Florine Milligan of Forrest City, Chairman of the ASU Board of Trustees, said Friday she was sad to see Dr. Wyatt leave the university, but that it was in a good position.
"I like to describe it as a garden that has blossomed. Structurally, you can tell that the campus has just changed," said Milligan, who has been with the university for ten years.
"Since day one when I met Dr. Wyatt, he's really a man of integrity. He's a man with a vision. I call him the man with the plan," said Milligan.
"If there were no students, we wouldn't even need a president. We are meeting our mission, our vision. You heard the retention rate is great. The stability is great. We have increased our international students, so we are competing not only locally and state and nationally, but globally," said Milligan.
"I've known Dr. Wyatt well before coming here through professional organization and I have just the highest admiration for him," said Potts.
Dr. Dan Howard, executive vice chancellor and provost, will begin duties as interim chancellor at ASU-Jonesboro. Under his recommendation, Dr. Glen Jones will serve as interim vice chancellor and provost.
"We've been able to see the campus develop and flourish, new facilities for the students, new places where they teach, learn, where they live, where they eat, where they have recreational activities," said Wyatt. "We've been fortunate to have constructed new buildings and developed whole new campuses all across the state, so that's been gratifying to see."
Milligan said the transition is expected to be smooth and details of the transition will be announced in a few months.
"Each of the ASU campuses is now offering degrees and programs entirely through internet," said Wyatt. "That online opportunity is just at its infancy and we will see more and more capabilities developed here and across higher education to serve students who can't come to a campus."