Jones Named ATU Acting Interim President

Dr. Russell Jones
Dr. Russell Jones

Dr. Russell Jones was unanimously selected to serve as acting interim president of Arkansas Tech University by the ATU Board of Trustees during its meeting at Chambers Cafeteria West Dining Room on Thursday, Aug. 17.

Jones joined ATU in July 2020 as dean of the College of Business, which has since been renamed the ATU College of Business and Economic Development. The college includes the ATU School of Business and the ATU Department of Agriculture and Tourism. Jones’ faculty rank is professor of accounting.

“Arkansas Tech was established in 1909 to serve the needs of the people in the Arkansas River Valley,” said Jones. “While that purpose has not changed, we must understand that higher education has evolved, as have enrollment levels and the needs of our prospective students. ATU must also be willing to change and become more agile and efficient. We must remember that the challenges we face as a university do not disappear simply because there was a change in leadership. Our challenges are real and must be dealt with for Tech to remain a shining star in Arkansas higher education.”

Since arriving at Arkansas Tech in 2020, Jones has provided university-wide leadership for micro-credentials, workforce development and recruitment/retention initiatives. He is a graduate of Leadership Russellville and is active in civic organizations in the Arkansas River Valley.

Jones has been active in ATU advancement efforts across the region and has been instrumental in several large gifts to the university over the past three years. His emphasis on recruitment and retention has helped the ATU School of Business experience 8 percent growth in enrollment since fall 2022. Enrollment in Arkansas Tech business programs is approaching pre-pandemic levels.

Speaking on behalf of the ATU Board of Trustees, Chairman Jim Smith expressed the board’s full support and appreciation of Jones in accepting this appointment and its confidence in his ability to serve ATU well in this position.

“For several years now, Dr. Jones has played an integral role in the advancement of Tech,” said Smith. “While many people know him best as the dean of the College of Business and Economic Development and a member of the faculty, he has a consistent and proven track record of being a leader of several important initiatives of Tech and has a strong depth of knowledge of not only Tech but higher education in Arkansas. He is well regarded throughout the Tech community and the River Valley community and has been an excellent ambassador and face of Tech. The board looks forward to working with him.”

“One of the determining factors for me to accept the offer from Tech was my meeting with students on my first visit to the ATU campus,” said Jones. “I asked them, ‘why do you go to Tech?’ and their answer was because the faculty actually care about my success, and I am not just a number to them. I have repeatedly found that to be true during my three-plus years on staff.”

Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology and a Master of Science degree in information systems from Arkansas State University. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Texas at Arlington with a dual major in accounting and information systems.

Jones came to ATU from Arkansas State, where he served as the Kathy White Endowed Professor of Management Information Systems (2006-2020). His previous roles at ASU included chair of accounting and information technology (2015-2018), Master of Business Administration director (2009-2012), associate professor of decision sciences (1995-2005) and assistant professor of computer information systems (1989-1995). He also has served as a visiting professor at the University of Caen in France and the University of Otago in New Zealand.

“There is more to attending a university than simply attending classes,” said Jones. “Especially for traditional students, attending a university is a time of personal growth, networking, maturing and participating in experiential learning opportunities. These include internships, professional and social organizational activities, athletics, travel/study abroad and more. I am glad to serve at an institution that offers our students the whole university experience package. We are here to build the leaders of tomorrow, and that involves so much more than just attending class (virtually or otherwise) and memorizing facts for an exam.”

Dr. Keegan Nichols, who has served as acting president of ATU during summer 2023, will continue in her role as vice president for student affairs at Arkansas Tech.

Dr. Robin E. Bowen, ATU president, announced in July 2023 that she was taking a medical leave of absence.