Dr. Todd ShieldsAn academic administrator, a nationally known scholar and an unabashed champion for students, staff and faculty, Dr. Todd Shields was named the fourth appointed chancellor and the 14th individual to lead Arkansas State University.
He spent many years at the University of Arkansas where he rose through the ranks to serve as dean of the largest academic unit in Fayetteville. Shields’ depth of academic administrative experience spans from department chair to research centers and from deanships of individual colleges to divisions touching all corners of the university. His two most recent academic appointments, dean of the Graduate School and International Education (GSIE) and dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, illustrate his leadership strength.
One of Shields’ signature contributions to UA was the creation of a School of Art within the college, bolstered by significant endowment gifts to fund construction of a new campus space that serves as a partnership with the city of Fayetteville. A $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation established the School of Art, with a following $70 million total in support from the Windgate Foundation for the 154,600-square-foot Windgate Studio + Design Center, which anchors a new art district redevelopment south of the campus core on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He also secured $90 million in software and equipment gifts to programs throughout the Fulbright College.
As the dean of GSIE, Shields collaborated with administration, deans, faculty and staff in every college at UA. He also served as a leader for Fayetteville’s Rome Center, a campus hub in the Italian capital. Among the key achievements as graduate dean was increasing overall graduate school enrollment and the number and diversity among international students. During this time, Shields was also responsible for overseeing reviews of all programs across the campus, involving him in a wide range of academic areas from business to education, from architecture to the health professions.
Shields played a pivotal role in the creation of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, serving as the founding director of the interdisciplinary research center. Building upon his previous experience as the associate director of the Fulbright Institute of International Relations, the Blair Center became an established resource for programing, curriculum, research and polling for the state and region. Shields followed his time as department chair and Blair Center director with a year as the associate dean of the President William Jefferson Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.
He began his academic career as an assistant professor in political science at Arkansas in 1994, and was promoted to associate professor in 1999. He joined the Fulbright Institute of International Relations as its associate director in 2000, and in 2005 became a full professor in political science. For eight years, he also concurrently chaired the political science department at UA.
Concurrent with his time at the Clinton School, Shields was first appointed interim dean in 2010-11, then permanent dean of GSIE the following academic year. Along with the graduate school, he also supervised international students, study abroad and sponsored international programs on the UA campus.
In 2013, Shields was named interim Fulbright dean, then the permanent dean in July 2014 where he led the college until departing UA to become chancellor at A-State. Fulbright College’s three schools, 16 academic departments and 10 research centers span 30 academic programs.
Among numerous achievements during his time as the Fulbright dean was the creation of the Fulbright College Student Success Center. Some of the key retention-based programs included Destination Arkansas Blackboard Assignment to provide orientation to all first-year students, Strategies for Success (S4S) which was a zero-credit course offered to all UA students who fell into academic probation in their first semester to create a plan to improve their academics, and a Life Strategies and Career Awareness Course to improve student achievement. One of the key outcomes of the Student Success Center was a reduction of low grades and failure rates in the college’s core courses and increases in first year retention.
He is the co-author of three significant books related to electoral politics: The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics (2019); The Persuadable Voter: Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns won the 2009 Robert E. Lane Award for the best book in political psychology; and his first book Money Matters: Campaign Finance Reform and Congressional Elections was published in 1999. He is also an editor on six other books, has published more than 40 articles and made more than 50 presentations in his research areas of data analytics, public opinion and election strategies. His efforts have also resulted in more than $25 million in grants and research support as a principal or co-principal investigator.
He was recently appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson to serve on the newly reinstated Arkansas Commission on the Status of Women where he serves as co-chair of the subcommittee on research and writing alongside A-State Graduate School Dean Cherisse Jones-Branch.
Shields earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1990 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He continued his education at the University of Kentucky where he received his Master of Arts in political science in 1991 and his Ph.D. in 1994. In addition, Shields participated in Ohio State University’s Summer Institute in Political Psychology in 1993 and Harvard University’s Management Development Program in Higher Education in the summer of 2006.
He and his wife, Karen, have two adult children, Savvy and Dane.