Arkansas native aspires to chancellorship

Daniel A. Reed, one of four finalists for the chancellorship at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, spoke about his roots during a campus forum Friday.

“As a kid from Arkansas, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be home,” Reed said, adding that if I were elected the new chancellor, the capstone of my professional career, it would be the honor of my life. “

Growing up in small, rural Mammoth Spring, Reed said education “changed my life, and that’s what I wish for everyone else.” Reed is Presidential Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah.

A visit to the UA Fayetteville campus in 1974 “changed the course of my life because I learned to program,” he said.

At universities — particularly land-grant universities like UA-Fayetteville — “we help students rise up, and I want that for every kid in this state,” said Reed, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Missouri University of Science earned technology and a Masters and Ph.D. in computer science from Purdue University in Indiana. “We hold the hopes of parents and the dreams of students in our hands,” Reed said.

Land grant universities are “designed to go out and help people,” and that mission has never been more important, Reed said. “We’re not just the University of Arkansas, we’re the University for Arkansas. Whoever and wherever you are, we are committed to you.”

“Studying is unattainable for many [due to cost]and that’s a moral hazard [because] Education is the only thing I know that lifts people from one socioeconomic class to another in one generation,” he said. “If we deprive people of this opportunity, we have failed.”

Reed’s visit to campus on Friday included meetings with students, faculty, staff and university stakeholders, as well as the campus forum, and the same schedule will be followed for each finalist.

Interim Chancellor Charles F. Robinson had his campus forum Monday. Jay T. Akridge, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Purdue University, had his Wednesday. Cynthia Y. Young, founding dean of the College of Sciences at Clemson University, who if elected would be the first female chancellor of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, has her forum Monday.

For more information on each finalist, as well as additional details on each candidate’s public forum, visit the Chancellor Search website at:


Reed was Utah’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, and he helped launch the For Utah scholarship — which diversified the student body and expanded access for first-generation students — and led the 1U4U cross-campus research initiative, according to the university’s system from Arkansas.

Previously, Reed was Chair of Computer Science and Bioinformatics and Professor of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Medicine at the University of Iowa, where he was Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

The For Utah Scholarship “had a dramatic effect on diversity, opening doors for students who otherwise probably wouldn’t have had a chance,” and he also helped launch the university’s “Near Peer Advisors” program, where young High school graduates went to counsel these students on college matters, he said. The program is “very effective” and is now being used by colleges across the state, he said.

Universities not only have to be barrier-free, they also have to ensure “that everyone is treated fairly and feels welcome, [and that] is an endless journey,” he said. “Set to [diverse] Finding people and recruiting students is the easy part,” but creating a “welcome culture that will make them want to stay is the harder part.”

However, it’s a worthwhile goal because “we’ll educate our students better with a diverse faculty and students will learn more from each other” when there’s a diverse student body, Reed said. Decades ago, his grandfather advised him to meet other people than himself because “you get a different perspective”.


Among those who popped a question during Friday’s question-and-answer session at the Jim & Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center was freshman Matt Hughes, who wondered how he responded to the university’s growing enrollment — the university put in this one Year set a new record – with campus resources and services could equalize.

The University of Utah also sets enrollment records, so Reed saw that “there’s always a bottleneck somewhere,” he said. “Growth is important, but you have to do it with care, without [compromising] the quality of the experience.”

Hughes, who studies chemistry and is a member of Honors College at UA, said he thinks the university needs to add staff and services for the growing student body or cut enrollment, and he’d rather see the former than the latter.

“If you wait an hour in the food court for dinner, you see the challenges of growing enrollment,” Hughes said.

If a university is targeting increasing enrollment, it needs to plan — and budget — accordingly, Reed said. “You have to be prepared to allocate resources to these additional students.”

Reed was the founding director of the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with joint teaching assignments at Duke and North Carolina State Universities, and has also served as Chancellor Professor and Vice Chancellor of Information Technology at Chapel Hill.

Previously, he was head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, according to UA-Fayetteville. He was also corporate vice president of technology policy and extreme computing at Microsoft, where he focused extensively on cloud computing technology.

Though he’s reluctant to leave academia, Reed said that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and then-CEO Steve Ballmer “are pretty convincing guys.” He also learned in the private sector how important it is to be the first to innovate, because then “everyone is chasing you, [rather than] you chase them.”

College students need to see and know what they’re learning will change their lives, and faculty plays a key role, Reed said. All Reed asks of teachers is that they “make a difference in the world.” He also said that “the teachers who care about your learning are the ones who make a difference”.

Staff need to feel valued, too, because “they’re the unsung heroes of every university and don’t get the respect they deserve,” he said. In Utah, Reed helped implement career paths across campus so employees could see career ladders, and the university increased the base salary for these employees.

He’s also worried about graduate students, as “one thing we don’t do nearly enough is career support for graduate students,” he said. “We have to remember that most people go into the ‘real world’ and don’t stay in science.”


Elected as chancellor, Reed vowed to “listen and build consensus.”

“Anyone who walks in here and says, ‘I know [what to do]”You should be very suspicious of them,” he said. Reed said he will surround himself with co-workers who are willing to break him “bad news” and if “he’s screwed up” because “it’s all about humility.”

For Hughes, Reed is the “darling” of the three chancellor finalists he has seen so far.

Reed “has this real-world experience” in the private sector and a “unique perspective,” Hughes said. “He is great.”

Reed shares a philosophy with Daniel Burnham — the celebrated architect, urban planner, and the driving force behind Chicago’s famous 1892-93 World’s Columbian Exposition — who urged “no small plans,” and Reed said he had none ” small plans”. ” for UA Fayetteville.

“The assets are all here and this place is about to erupt,” Reed said. “This place is on the rise. Whatever we can imagine, we can do.”

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