University of Arkansas chancellor G. David Gearheart said he will step down from his position and return to the classroom on July 31, 2015.
Citing his desire to spend more time with his family, Gearheart who has served as chancellor since 2008, said he planned to return to the classroom.
“I have four main reasons for making this difficult decision,” the chancellor wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to UA System President Don Bobbitt. “They are our four grandchildren: Ben, age 5; Caroline, age 4; Ellie, almost 2; and soon to be born, Lily Jane. Going forward, I hope to spend more quality time with each of them as well as with our children and their spouses, Katy and Justin and Brock and Lindsey.”
Gearhart became the fifth chancellor of the state’s flagship university after serving a decade as vice chancellor for University Advancement. He previously served at the university as three years as director of development in early 1980s. As vice chancellor, he led the University of Arkansas in the largest fundraising endeavor ever undertaken by an organization in Arkansas, the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, which raised $1.046 billion for academic programs.
Gearheart said he will take some time off before returning to teaching. He is a member of the faculty of the College of Education and Health Professions.
“The most difficult part of this transition will be giving up my daily contact with our superb faculty and staff, extraordinary students, loyal and generous alumni and benefactors and campaign volunteers,” Gearhart continued in his letter. “We have a tremendous team at the University of Arkansas, and that team has made these past 17 years, 10 as vice chancellor, and seven as chancellor, both exciting and memorable.”
UA System President Donald Bobbitt said he was initially caught off guard by Gearheart’s announcement.
“I was initially surprised by Dr. Gearhart’s decision, but after talking to him and learning that his reason to opt for retirement included his desire to spend more time with his growing family, I understood and supported his plans,” said Bobbitt. “There never is a good time to make these decisions, but the University of Arkansas is in a very strong position with record enrollments, a strong research portfolio and nationally recognized student achievement.
“I plan to proceed deliberately but aggressively with plans to identify the next chancellor for the University of Arkansas through a national search. Given the strong position of the institution, its Top 50 national research university aspirations and the statewide support it garners, I know this will be a much sought-after position. I look forward to working with campus administrative and faculty leaders, the University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees and other stakeholders to name the next chancellor,” Bobbitt said.