Joseph Steinmetz is resigning as chancellor of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, effective Friday, June 18, the UA announced Thursday.
The announcement came after an executive session of the UA System board. Steinmetz took over as the sixth chancellor of the Fayetteville campus on Jan. 1, 2016.
In a statement, Steinmetz cited “today’s polarized society” as a factor in his decision. His full statement:
“In my annual commencement address, I sometimes tell graduates that the key to a purposeful and enriching life is to find a career that creates deeply meaningful work and not to settle for anything less. For the past 38 years, higher education has been not only my vocation, but my absolute commitment. My wife Sandy is the reason I get up in the morning, but the promise of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement has kept me returning to the office day after day, year after year — steadfast in my belief of the power of higher education to improve lives. I still strongly believe in the mission of higher education, yet given the many challenges found trying to manage a university in today’s polarized society, I need to do what’s best for my family and I feel ready to make way for others.
“I’d like to thank [UA System] President [Donald] Bobbitt and the Board of Trustees,” he said. “We have the most supportive system and trustees and I’m grateful for their constant support of the mission of the University of Arkansas as well as my leadership.
“But as important, I’d like to thank not only my leadership team, but the entire University of Arkansas community of faculty, staff, students and alumni for their passion for this great institution and their desire to make the university a better place. This was clearly evident as the campus successfully managed a pandemic.”
Under Steinmetz’ leadership, the UA achieved a first-year student retention rate of 84.7 percent, a six-year graduation rate of 68.5 percent and an average GPA of 3.75 for new freshman in the entering 2020 class, according to a university news release. In addition, the UA surpassed its billion-dollar fundraising campaign goal by raising $1.449 billion by the end of June 2020.
Heading into the fall semester, the Fayetteville campus was expecting a record-sized freshman class and its largest student body enrollment to date. Prior to taking over as chancellor on the hill, Steinmetz held administrative positions at Stanford, Indiana, Kansas and Ohio State.
The UA said Bobbitt will visit with campus officials and university supporters before announcing search plans for a new chancellor.