After serving at University of Arkansas for 23 yrs, Charles Robinson becomes its 1st Black chancellor

Abu Mubarik November 18, 2022
Dr. Charles F. Robinson. Photo: University of Arkansas

Charles Robinson has been named as the chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, making him the first Black person to lead the flagship campus. Robinson, who has served as the interim chancellor since August 2021, was unanimously approved by the university’s board of trustees, according to apnews.

“He now has the opportunity to cast a broader vision for advancing the university as a leading public research university in the region and raising its status on the national stage,” University System President Donald Bobbitt said in a statement. 

“He has a unique ability to inspire others and to relate to the many different constituencies across the university, and I look forward to working with him to help make his tenure as Chancellor a success.”

The university’s previous chancellor resigned last year, stating how difficult it was to lead the school in “today’s polarized society,” apnews reported.

Prior to Robinson’s confirmation as the chancellor, he also served as the university’s provost and executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “I’m looking forward to serving our campus in its entirety and greatly appreciate the support and confidence shown in me to be a good steward of the land-grant mission,” Robinson said.

Robinson has served the university for more than 23 years and has served in various capacities. He first started as an assistant professor of history in 1999. He was later promoted to positions of increasing responsibility such as the director of the African and African American Studies Program, vice provost for diversity and vice chancellor for Student Affairs, before becoming provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and interim chancellor.

According to his profile, he has consistently led institutional progress in student success relative to recruitment, retention and graduation, while articulating new academic initiatives and development of goals to better serve the campus and meet the needs of students throughout his tenure at the University.

While vice chancellor for Student Affairs, the university constructed Adohi Hall, a $79 million campus project that is the only residence hall in the United States to use cross-laminated timber. As provost, Robinson “continued his strong efforts for student success while augmenting support for faculty, managing the challenges of the pandemic,” the University said. In his role as interim chancellor, the University said he has worked to “better manage university resources, expand student success services, increase scholarship dollars for Arkansas students, support the expansion of research, and to position the university as an employer of choice.”

His research and teaching focus on Southern history and race relations, African American studies, sexuality in history and civil rights, among other topics, and he’s earned a number of awards for his teaching, including the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award, Arkansas Student Alumni Board Teacher of the Year and an induction into the university’s Teaching Academy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Houston, a master’s degree in history from Rice University, and a doctorate in history from the University of Houston. 

In addition, he has authored several books, including Remembrances in Black: Personal Perspectives of the African American Experience at the University of Arkansas, Dangerous Liaisons: Sex and Love in the Segregated South and Forsaking All Others: A True Story of Interracial Sex and Revenge in the 1880s South.

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