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Jonesboro Culture Attracts New ASU Chancellor Tim Hudson


By Luke Jones (reprinted with permission from Arkansas Business.com)

Tim Hudson, Arkansas State University's new chancellor, thought his ticket out of the family's lumber and cattle business would be by playing shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals. When that didn't work out, Hudson went to college instead.

"My father said I could go to university as long as it didn't interfere with work," Hudson said. Hudson answered Arkansas Business' questions by email last week during a university trip to Spain.

"So I headed to Southern Miss - I grew up in Mississippi north of New Orleans, which was our 'go-to' city - which proved to be a truly transformative experience," Hudson said.

His professors encouraged him, Hudson said, and he eventually chose a major in Latin American studies and history.

"Later they helped me win a scholarship to Colombia which led me to a Ph.D. program at Clark University and then into work at the U.S. Department of State," he said. "I then got a chance to return to USM to teach in international economic development and to establish international programs around the world."

Hudson rose to the position of dean, then provost, and then moved to Texas to become president of the University of Houston-Victoria, then to the Texas Tech University System as vice chancellor. He began as ASU's chancellor in May.

"So my academic career was catalyzed by the mentorship of wonderful teachers and the assistance of caring, professional staff," he said. "I keep this in mind in everything I do. The student-teacher relationship is paramount, and our focus has to always be on the progress and welfare of our students. So I never really planned to be an administrator, but followed the path of mentors and opportunities to help students in the way I had been helped."

The difficult economic climate means Hudson will be looking for ways to grow revenue while being mindful of costs.

"External fundraising, competitive research, revenue-generating programs, international alliances, outreach, grants, life enrichment and many other facets of our enterprise hold the promise of helping us in this regard," he said. "We must enhance our quality while sustaining appropriate access - a challenging, but worthwhile, endeavor."

In the next five years, Hudson wants to create an idea-rich environment with open communication between faculty members.

"We need to enhance our research," he said, "especially competitively funded research and creative activities."

Hudson wants ASU to increase enrollment and develop ways for students to learn outside the classroom through internships, research, studying abroad and so on.

"We need to continue to grow and diversify our international programs," he said. "We need to add selected graduate degrees that fulfill a societal need and grow graduate enrollment."

Hudson also said he wants to support ASU's faculty to engage in more and relevant research, meeting global standards and preparing students for leadership in a globalized world.

"Good scholarship and creative engagement on the part of the faculty is essential to good teaching," he said. "We need to attract and retain the very best faculty possible and include them in an ongoing conversation about what programs we can add to the list of programs of distinction for ASU - again, always ensuring that we transfer this research to value-added teaching for our students."

Hudson said he values the relationship between ASU and Jonesboro. The "synergy is palpable," he said.

"Being able to bring my family to Jonesboro, with its warm culture and high quality of life, was one of the primary attractions for me," he said. "This relationship is fundamental to our ability to create the type of institution that ASU can and should be - the energy that comes from a strong, mutually beneficial connection will energize all of our efforts."

The end result of ASU's works, Hudson said, should be greater cultural understanding.

"Higher education is our best hope for achieving individual empowerment and global peace and prosperity," he said. "As Mandela said, it's our best tool with which to change the world for the better."