First woman chosen to lead ASU-Newport - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

First woman chosen to lead ASU-Newport

Dr. Sandra Massey (Source: ASU-Newport Facebook page) Dr. Sandra Massey (Source: ASU-Newport Facebook page)

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – The Arkansas State University system made history last week when a new chancellor was named to lead the ASU-Newport campuses.

Dr. Sandra Massey became the first woman ever chosen as chancellor at Newport or at any other ASU school.

"It's such an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead the ASU-Newport campuses," Massey said. "I really look forward to working with the system president, Dr. Chuck Welch. I think he is a visionary leader, and I expect good things to happen over the next many years."

Massey took the helm at ASU-Newport just a week ago and says she's thrilled to now have the title of chancellor, only the second in the school's history.

"I hope me being allowed to be in this position will open up the doors for other women who want to pursue leadership roles," she said. "I feel very fortunate that the Board of Trustees and President Welch are open-minded enough that they did hire a female, but at the same time I never felt the interview was gender-based at all."

Massey succeeds Dr. Larry Williams, who retired as chancellor in August. She says he has been a great leader for her and left behind some big shoes to fill.

"Someone said just don't even bother – just wear the heels, and I'll be okay," Massey said, laughing. "[Dr. Williams] brought the campus along much faster than most college campuses grow. He's really done a great job hiring, and I feel like he left a very solid foundation for us to build on."

A Jonesboro native, Massey received her bachelor's and master's degrees from ASU at Jonesboro and a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University.

Before becoming chancellor, she served as the vice chancellor for academic affairs and the chief academic officer at the ASU-Newport campus. She now has the task of filling her former job as well as the vice chancellor for student affairs position that's recently come open.

"I'm looking forward to creating a great team that's very collaborative and works well together," she said.

She hopes to have those two vacancies filled by January. In the meantime, she also has plans to begin a listening tour of sorts at the campuses in Newport, Marked Tree and Jonesboro.

"I know the people here fairly well, the ones that reported to me exceptionally well of course," Massey said about the Newport campus. "But I want to get to know more about the programs on the campus and then the other two campuses I did not spend a lot of time on. I can't wait to get over there [to Marked Tree and Jonesboro] and have a lot of one-on-one conversations with people, find out what their dreams are and how they see the direction of the college moving in the future."

Massey has chosen to keep some of her own goals for the school under wraps for now. She would like to first meet with all the different faculty and staff members at each of the campuses to see how they'll influence her plans.

"I have my own dreams and thoughts, but I really don't want to say a lot about that until I hear from everybody," she said. "We'll be putting together a work plan and really trying to be very strategic as we move forward."

Massey says it will likely take three months before she has a clearer idea about where the school will go, but right now she's enjoying all the support she's received from not just her predecessor but the community as well.

"The support has been overwhelming. It just really makes you feel good," Massey said. "My husband and I made Newport our home almost three years ago. I knew people were supportive, but sometimes you just don't have any idea. It has been great. It really has, and we hope to give back to the community just as much."

When asked if she has any more goals for her career, she simply said no – this is it for her.

"I want to be chancellor of a two-year community college right here in Newport, and I don't have any other career plans past this," Massey said with a smile. "I hope to retire from here."

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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