Laurence B. Alexander, J.D., Ph.D.
9th Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Dr. Laurence B. Alexander, a nationally recognized scholar and academic leader, is in his ninth year as Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a public land-grant research HBCU in an urban setting. After a national search in 2013, Alexander was nominated to serve as Chancellor by University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt and approved by the Board of Trustees.
Alexander brings more than three decades of combined professional and academic experience as a transformational university leader, administrator, distinguished professor, First Amendment scholar, attorney and journalist. He has promoted excellence across the university through innovation and entrepreneurship, leading to sustained growth in enrollment, remarkable increases in retention and graduation rates, new in-demand academic programs, reaffirmation of university accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, higher research grant funding, new construction and renovation projects, increased levels of community and statewide engagement, and success in major-gift fundraising and development, which included the two largest donations in the university’s history.
This year, Alexander launched a 10-year strategic planning process for 2021-2031. His blueprint for the university’s recent accomplishments was a visionary, collaborative, and inclusive Growing the Pride: 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, which emphasized five priorities: Growing enrollment and fostering student success at the undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. level; optimizing efficiency, upgrading and expanding facilities, diversifying and increasing revenue streams and preparing for a capital campaign, and enhancing the university’s reputation and national visibility. Based on the priorities and values of the strategic plan, Alexander led the university in completing a Campus Master Plan that helped position UAPB for large-scale resource development and investment in academic programs, capital projects, and initiatives for student and faculty development.
Alexander received statewide recognition for his academic leadership as an Arkansas Business Journal Influencer in Education in 2017. He was also selected for inclusion in the inaugural publication of the 200 Most Influential Leaders by Arkansas Business Publishing Group in 2018, and he received national recognition as one of the HBCU Campaign Fund’s 10 Most Dominant HBCU Leaders in 2019.
A native of New Orleans, Alexander earned a bachelor's degree from the University of New Orleans, a master's degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Florida, a Juris Doctor from Tulane University, and he earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Florida State University. His dissertation, Public Forum Doctrine in Higher Education: Student Rights and Institutional Prerogatives, received the national Joseph C. Beckham Dissertation of the Year Award from the Education Law Association.
Prior to joining UAPB, Alexander had a distinguished 22-year career as a professor and administrator at the University of Florida, the state’s 50,000-plus student land-grant flagship research institution, which is ranked 6th among the top national public universities and is a member of the prestigious organization of leading research universities known as the Association of American Universities (AAU). While at UF, Alexander served as a Provost Administrative Fellow in the Office of Academic Affairs, Director of the Office of Graduate Minority Programs, Associate Dean of the 16,000-student Graduate School, and Chair of the Department of Journalism. In addition, he was a Fellow in the Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program (SEC-ALDP), and he participated in the Harvard University Seminar for New Presidents.
As one of more than 3,000 faculty members at UF, Alexander received numerous prestigious honors for his outstanding teaching, research and service. He was selected as the 12th UF Distinguished Alumni Professor, one of only 18 faculty selected for this honor in the history of the university. Alexander also was selected in the first cohort of six faculty members from across the university to be inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, and he gained the university title of Distinguished Teaching Scholar. He was named a UF Research Foundation Professor, a university honor awarded to tenured faculty members who have a distinguished current record of research and a strong research agenda that is likely to lead to continuing distinction in the professor’s field. In addition, Alexander was named a Florida Blue Key Distinguished Faculty Award recipient, and he has received awards for outstanding teaching, research and service in the UF College of Journalism and Communications. His prestigious national honors and awards include the Florida Education Fund President's Award, the Freedom Forum Teacher of the Year Award and the Baskett Mosse Award, given by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) and the accrediting council to recognize an outstanding faculty member in the field of journalism or mass communication.
Alexander joined the UF faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor and rose through the ranks to become a tenured full professor in the UF Department of Journalism. During his tenure, he taught more than 10,000 students in a variety of environments at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school levels. He served as a chair or member of dozens of doctoral and master’s supervisory committees and secured more than $10 million as principal or co-principal investigator for grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Florida Education Fund for Ph.D. student preparation and support, contributing significantly to the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. He was the co-author of Student Free Speech in Public Higher Education, a book published by the Education Law Association, and he was author or co-author of articles in top-ranked law reviews and journals, numerous publications in communications scholarly journals, and various refereed research presentations and articles.
His committed engagement with the state and local community is indicated through volunteer service on Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Arkansas Census 2020 Complete-Count Committee, the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, the Board of Directors of Fifty for the Future of Pine Bluff, Inc., the Board of Directors of Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc., the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation Board, the Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance Board, the Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) Community Advisory Board, the JRMC Building and Equipment Committee, and working with the Go Forward Pine Bluff Leadership Task Force and the City of Pine Bluff on revitalization, entrepreneurship, and business development through the UAPB Economic Research and Development Center.
Alexander has had extensive engagement and experience with Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletics programs and alumni relations. He serves as Vice Chair of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum, and he serves as Chair of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors. While at UF, Alexander served as a member of the Board of Directors of the University Athletic Association and the Board of Directors of the UF National Alumni Association, and he worked closely with the Office of Alumni Affairs as part of its Distinguished Lecture Series and through engagement with Gator Clubs.
Alexander is engaged in various state and national professional organizations, including the Executive Council of the Presidents Council of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Council of University Presidents, and the APLU Council of 1890s Institutions, a member of the Board of Directors of ARE-ON Arkansas Research Education Optical Network, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Research Alliance, a group of state research universities and business leaders committed to creating opportunities in the areas of research, commercialization and job creation. He has served as a mentor in the Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). A member of the Education Law Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Alexander has held several AEJMC leadership positions as a member of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Professional Freedom and Responsibility Committee, Chair of the Task Force on Development and as a member of the Finance Committee, the Publications Committee, and served in key divisional leadership roles, and on accreditation teams. While at UF, Alexander was also elected to three terms on the Faculty Senate, and he served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Independent Florida Alligator student newspaper.
Prior to joining the faculty at UF, Alexander was a member of the faculty of the University of New Orleans and Temple University He also worked in the journalism profession at The Houma (La.) Courier, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is licensed to practice law in the state of Louisiana, and he is a current member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Bar Association. He also is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.