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The University of Texas at Arlington Names New Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

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Media Contact: Bob Wright

ARLINGTON - University of Texas at Arlington President James D. Spaniolo today announced the appointment of Donald R. Bobbitt as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Bobbitt, currently dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas, will join UT Arlington on July 1. As provost and vice president for academic affairs, he will serve as the University’s chief academic officer, overseeing 11 colleges and schools, including the graduate school and the honors college; research administration; research funding and expenditures; student affairs; the libraries; strategic planning; and distance education. He will also be professor of chemistry in the College of Science.

“We are delighted to have Don Bobbitt join our leadership team at UT Arlington,” said President Spaniolo. “He 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. Under his tenure, UT Arlington will continue on its trajectory as one of the nation’s fastest-advancing research institutions.”

The search for a new provost was initiated by President Spaniolo last September with the appointment of a 15-member search committee; the committee was assisted and supported in its work by Auerbach Associates, Inc., an executive search firm based in Boston. Following an extensive national search, three finalists were identified for the position; each visited campus in early March and participated in individual public forums. Bobbitt was selected from those three finalists.

“President Spaniolo assembled a committee which reflected the full spectrum of the provost’s role at UT Arlington,” said Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts and co-chair of the search committee. “The candidates who visited campus and participated in public presentations were all impressive.”

“We had a strong pool of candidates, and we look forward to working with Dr. Bobbitt in the future,” added John Priest, professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, chair of the Faculty Senate, associate director of the Texas Radio Frequency Innovation and Development Center, and co-chair of the search committee.

Bobbitt is a respected teacher, researcher, and administrator with more than two decades of experience working at a major research institution. He has published and lectured extensively throughout his career. At the University of Arkansas he processed through the ranks, holding the positions of assistant professor, associate professor, vice chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, associate dean for research and sciences, and interim dean. He was named dean in 2003, and since then has continued teaching an Introductory to Chemistry course each year.

During his tenure as dean, Bobbitt led a large and diverse college of arts and sciences, including 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.

Bobbitt 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 area of research expertise is bio-analytical chemistry, and he holds two patents in the field. He has received significant research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has served as a consultant for Shell Chemical Company, Sanyo Chemical Company, and Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Alumni Association Award in Teaching and Research from the University of Arkansas.

“I am extremely honored and excited to be named to this prestigious post,” says Bobbitt. “This is an exciting challenge and a wonderful opportunity. UT Arlington is one of the standouts of The University of Texas System, and I’m looking forward to helping the University advance its ambitious plans.”

Bobbitt and his wife, Susan, have three sons.

President Spaniolo also announced today that Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, who has served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for UT Arlington since fall 2007, will now hold the position of vice president for research and federal relations. Kelsey Downum, interim vice president for research, will become senior associate vice president for research.

“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Ron Elsenbaumer for his service to the University as interim provost,” said President Spaniolo.“Serving in an interim position is no easy task, but it’s a challenge Ron tackled with energy, enthusiasm, and effectiveness. He’s an extremely talented scholar and administrator, and he did a superb job. Ron has been incredibly successful in securing external research funding, and I look forward to working with him in this expanded role.”


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.