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 systemmade history last week when a new chancellor was named to lead the ASU-Newportcampuses.

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

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

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

"I hope me being allowed to be in this position will open upthe doors for other women who want to pursue leadership roles," she said. "Ifeel very fortunate that the Board of Trustees and President Welch areopen-minded enough that they did hire a female, but at the same time I neverfelt the interview was gender-based at all."

Massey succeeds Dr. Larry Williams, who retired as chancellorin August. She says he has been a great leader for her and left behind some bigshoes 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 campusalong much faster than most college campuses grow. He's really done a great jobhiring, and I feel like he left a very solid foundation for us to build on."

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

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

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

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

"I know the people here fairly well, the ones that reportedto me exceptionally well of course," Massey said about the Newport campus. "ButI want to get to know more about the programs on the campus and then the othertwo 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 withpeople, find out what their dreams are and how they see the direction of thecollege moving in the future."

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

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

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

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

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

"I want to be chancellor of a two-year community collegeright 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."

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