JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A public forum took place on Arkansas State University's campus on Wednesday afternoon.
Students, faculty, and staff filed into the Reng Center Auditorium to listen to Arkansas State University Systems President Dr. Charles Welch.
"It's just an opportunity for our campus constituents to come and have a chance to ask me whatever questions they might have on their mind," Dr. Welch said. "To provide any sort of input and feedback. There's no formal presentation. These are the types of things I did when I was an on campus President and I think it's just a good opportunity to allow individuals just to open up and talk about whatever is on their mind."
Dr. Welch said he decided to host the event to address any concerns or issues people might have.
"Even in light of events we've had in recent weeks, we're still charging forward," Welch said. "Enrollment's looking great. We're still in the strongest position we've ever been in as a University. Certainly, we've got some things we've got to address and get fixed. But we're not slowing down and we're going to be just as aggressive and progressive as we ever have."
During the forum, an audience member made a comment to Dr. Welch about a lack of transparency at the A-State campus and wanted to know what he thought about it.
"I've heard from others about the transparency issue," Dr. Welch said. "I had a lengthy conversation yesterday with a faculty member on this campus and we talked about that. Some of the things I'm hearing I certainly don't disagree with that. Now, let me talk about this in several different segments. First of all with regard to the system office and me being 150 miles away, let me reiterate again. I'm not the campus-based CEO. I'm not the person whose responsible for managing the day to day operations of ASU-Jonesboro. My job title says that I am the liaison between the Board of Trustees responsibility for policy and the Chancellor's responsibility for operations. And so at some point, we have to talk about the transparency within this campus. Those people who know me would tell you that I'm one of the most open people you've ever seen. I share a lot more information than maybe I should sometimes. Because I think we're always better off doing that. Now, everybody has different leadership and management styles and clearly, the transparency wasn't occurring here that I would have done if I had been the campus-based CEO. But there is still just a lot of questions about what I do and who I am. I am not the chancellor of ASU-Jonesboro. My job is much broader than that. But I will give you and agree that part of my job is to make sure that transparency is happening on every campus. And that's something I've heard loud and clear and am going to implement some things to try and make it better than before."
When asked about the search for a new chancellor Dr. Welch was very hopeful.
"I hope to make an announcement within the next couple of weeks," Dr. Welch said. "Things could change by the time I'm done talking. I'm not looking for someone that's going to come in and do a lot of wholesale change or a lot of controversial things or change things up. Rather I'm looking for somebody who can come in and...one of the things I heard from the Academic Dean's Council is a healer. Somebody that can come in and sort of calm the waters of the effect. Be a good listener. Somebody that can get out and hear from you. Somebody that can help us get through this six, eight or nine months until we can get ready for the permanent chancellor and just help us sort of navigate and help us identify what some of the really key issues are."
Dr. Welch said A-State is stronger than ever.
"I want people to know we've never been in a stronger position than we are right now as a university," Dr. Welch said. "We've got so many wonderful things happening here that our future has never been brighter. We're going to be bringing in a long-term interim chancellor. I'm going to talk a little bit about that process today and then we're going to be working together to try and address and chart our future and make sure we're building upon the strengths that we have and be the best university we can be."
Dr. Welch said he also has meetings scheduled with the Student Government Association on Sept. 13, the Faculty Senate on Sept. 16, and the Staff Senate on Sept. 21.
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