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Bobbitt named provost

University of Arkansas dean to become UT Arlington’s chief academic officer

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Donald R. Bobbitt
"UT Arlington has made dramatic progress in expanding its research and scholarship profile over the past several years. I believe this is critically important in solidifying our national reputation. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to assist in continuing this impressive progress."

- Donald R. Bobbitt

y every metric he evaluated, Donald R. Bobbitt found UT Arlington to be a university on the move. His conversations with stakeholders revealed a forward-thinking administration, accomplished faculty, student-focused staff and talented students.

Dr. Bobbitt will leave his post as dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas to become UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs. His first day on the job is July 1.

He will serve as the University’s chief academic officer, overseeing 11 colleges and schools as well as research administration, research funding and expenditures, student affairs, the libraries, strategic planning and distance education. He also will be a chemistry professor in the College of Science.

“Don Bobbitt is a gifted academic leader as well as a seasoned administrator, and he is joining the University at one of the most exciting times in our history,” President James D. Spaniolo said. “Under his tenure, UT Arlington will continue on its trajectory as one of the nation’s fastest-advancing research institutions.”

A teacher, researcher and administrator with more than two decades experience at a major research institution, Bobbitt has published and lectured extensively. At the University of Arkansas, he held the positions of assistant professor, associate professor, vice chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and then chair of the department, associate dean for research and sciences, and interim dean. He was named dean in 2003 and continued to teach an introductory chemistry course each year.

“Clearly, the faculty of UT Arlington represent one of its greatest strengths,” he said. “They are accomplished and passionate about their responsibility to pass on the knowledge of their discipline to the next generation.”

During his tenure as dean at the University of Arkansas, Bobbitt headed a diverse College of Arts and Sciences that included 19 academic departments and almost 7,000 students. He led the effort to increase external funding from $14 million to $27 million and the number of endowed chairs and professorships from one to 25—fueled by $74 million in fundraising.

He earned his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Iowa State University and his B.S. degree with high honors in chemistry from the University of Arkansas. His research expertise is in bio-analytical chemistry, and he holds two patents. He has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“UT Arlington has made dramatic progress in expanding its research and scholarship profile over the past several years. I believe this is critically important in solidifying our national reputation,” he said. “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to assist in continuing this impressive progress.”

Bobbitt has served as a consultant for Shell Chemical Co., Sanyo Chemical Co., and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the University of Arkansas’ Alumni Association Award in Teaching and Research.

He succeeds Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, who has served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs since fall 2007. Dr. Elsenbaumer will become vice president for research and federal relations. Kelsey Downum, interim vice president for research, will be senior associate vice president for research.

Last September, President Spaniolo initiated the provost search with the appointment of a 15-member committee assisted by Auerbach Associates, an executive search firm based in Boston. The committee identified three finalists, each of whom visited the campus in early March and participated in individual public forums.

During his visit, Bobbitt was impressed with the diversity of UT Arlington’s students.

“The students are optimistic and excited about their future and grateful for the opportunities UT Arlington is giving them,” he said. “It was clear to me that they care about the institution.



— Mark Permenter


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