Dr. Todd Shields is a Red Wolf now.

Former dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas is named Arkansas State University Chancellor

A common trope employed by action movies is when two alpha characters who despise each other team up and become friends. The moment Guy Pierce and Russel Crowe put down their fists and join forces to take down James Cromwell was the best scene in L.A. Confidential. It’s just as satisfying seeing it played out in Jonesboro.

On Monday afternoon, ASU System President Chuck Welch announced that former University of Arkansas dean Dr. Todd Shields has been named Chancellor of Arkansas State University, replacing Dr. Kelley Damphousse. The response was predictable from certain corners: why are we providing a position of power to an acolyte of our hated cross-state rival?

This is a nonsense position. Shields is an educator with 30 years of experience; a veteran champion of scientific research who as Fulbright College dean managed $80 million in general budget plus a research budget of approximately $18 million. If Arkansas State is to continue serving Northeast Arkansas, it must improve its research capabilities. Scientific research and development conducted on American university campuses was a $83.7 billion business in 2019. Increasingly, the State of Arkansas is moving forward to an innovation economy. Arkansas State must play a leadership role in this transition.

“I am honored and thrilled to accept the position of chancellor at Arkansas State University. After talking with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, the opportunities at Arkansas State are obvious and exciting. My family and I are deeply committed to the mission of Arkansas State, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the A-State family.  After seeing the many opportunities, new relationships, and potential partnerships in Jonesboro, Northeast Arkansas, and across the university, we are eager to help serve the campus, the community, expand collaborations, and help Arkansas State University grow into an even brighter future. My wife and I are deeply honored to join the Red Wolves.”

Dr. Todd Shields

Here is a fact: The fastest-growing counties and metropolitan area in Arkansas over the past decade were in the state’s northwest region. The University of Arkansas, with its magnet for drawing intellectual talent from across the globe, is the academic source of that growth. Shields is a component of that growth. What he brings from Northwest Arkansas can only increase the fortunes of the Delta.

I don’t give a shit where Todd Shields plied his talents in years past. He’s a Red Wolf now. We’re fortunate to have him. Now let’s kick some ass.

GRAPHIC CREDIT: Arkansas State University