UA president to nominate Florida assistant dean to head UAPB


LITTLE ROCK — University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt will nominate a Florida associate dean to serve as chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the UA said Monday.

Bobbitt will nominate Laurence B. Alexander at a special meeting of the UA Board of Trustees by teleconference this week, the university said.

Alexander is associate dean of the Graduate School and director of the Office of Minority Programs at the University of Florida. He was among the finalists in a nationwide search conducted by Bobbitt and an advisory search committee of UAPB faculty, staff, alumni and supporters.

Bobbitt said Monday that Alexander “has the right combination of experience and enthusiasm to help shape a positive, successful future for UAPB,” Bobbitt said.

Alexander, who is a distinguished teaching scholar and a professor in the Department of Journalism at Florida, chairs the school’s Graduate Curriculum Committee and directs more than 20 student development and funding programs, including the UF McKnight Doctoral Fellowships and the National Science Foundation LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate.

He also leads the graduate school’s program in recruitment, retention, success and graduation of underrepresented minority students. Previously, he served as chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Florida and coordinator of journalism in the English Department at the University of New Orleans.

In a release, Alexander said it was a “high honor” to be nominated as the next chancellor of UAPB.

”I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, students, alumni and community and state leaders to advance the institution to the next level of academic excellence,” he said.

A native of New Orleans, Alexander received a bachelor’s degree in drama and communications from the University of New Orleans, master’s degree in journalism and communications from the University of Florida, law degree from Tulane University and Ph.D. in higher education from Florida State University.

He and his wife, Veronica, have three sons.

Upon approval of the UA board, Alexander will succeed former state Rep. Calvin Johnson, who has served as interim chancellor of UAPB since April 2012. It is anticipated that Alexander will begin his tenure by July 1.

Johnson was appointed to replace former UAPB Chancellor Lawrence Davis Jr., who stepped down in May 2012.

Davis announced his retirement the previous March, about a month after release of an audit report that found problems with the way funding was accounted for and spent at UAPB.

Four UAPB employees were fired — Davis’ secretary was among them — in February 2012 after an audit by the UA system uncovered numerous financial deficiencies, including an inability by auditors to determine whether $736,880 in payroll and purchasing orders was spent properly.

The audit also found state nepotism laws and university policies were violated, some students were overpaid or underpaid because of payroll problems and payments were made to vendors whose existence could not be verified.