University of Arkansas board plans to offer president two-year contract extension

By: - July 6, 2023 5:49 pm
Old Main at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville

During a special meeting on July 6, 2023, the UA System Board of Trustees agreed to President Donald Bobbitt’s contract for two years. (Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas Fayetteville)

The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees agreed on Thursday to offer President Donald Bobbitt a two-year extension when his contract expires on Dec. 31. 

Bobbitt has led the state’s largest higher education system since November 2011 and was paid just over $511,000 in fiscal year 2022, according to UA System records. Bobbitt’s annual salary will remain the same, a UA System spokesman said. His contract was last extended in 2019.

The decision comes a week after the board adopted a resolution that called Trustee Sheffield Nelson’s allegation that Bobbitt misled the board regarding a proposed affiliation with the University of Phoenix “inaccurate and false.”

UA board dismisses allegations of ‘deception’ against president

Bobbitt said in a statement that he’s “honored and thrilled” to continue serving in his role and appreciates the board’s confidence in him.

“I am reminded daily that I work for 10 trustees who each have a unique perspective on the work of our system, and while we may not always agree on every issue, I believe we all want the very best for our campuses, divisions and units across the state,” he said. “I’m looking forward to continuing that work with each of them.”

After meeting in executive session for two hours Thursday, the board approved a voice motion directing the general counsel to draft an amendment to extend Bobbitt’s employment agreement, which will include a provision that Bobbitt could be terminated with 90 days notice from the board. Bobbitt will also be allowed to terminate his contract with six months notice.

Additionally, as a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas, Bobbitt will retain the right to return to campus to teach. The board must give final approval to the written contract. 

University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt (Courtesy of the UA System)

Prior to becoming UA System president, Bobbitt served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. His tenure at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville included stints as an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry as well as the dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. 

Bobbitt is one of the state’s longest-serving higher ed leaders, along with Chuck Welch, who in April 2011 became president of the Arkansas State University System, the state’s second largest system. 

Welch received a 6% raise last month when ASU’s board of trustees approved a three-year extension of his contract. Welch’s new annual salary is $433,725, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The UA board also approved a resolution on Thursday to appoint David Curran as the system’s next general counsel, contingent upon the successful negotiation of an employment agreement. 

Curran has served as associate general counsel since 2016. Prior to that, he spent seven years in the Arkansas attorney general’s office.


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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.