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Dr. Laurence B. Alexander

Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander
Dr. Laurence B. Alexander is in his eighth year as Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, an 1890 public land-grant research university. Since joining UAPB, Alexander has promoted institutional excellence through initiatives that targeted improved student success outcomes, fostered greater innovation through institutional collaboration, increased research and grant activity, expanded partnerships with business and industry, encouraged efficiency and productivity, cultivated strong connections with alumni and friends, and championed student development and experiential learning. During his tenure, the university launched several initiatives that significantly improved retention and graduation rates, increased academic programs, research grants, new construction and renovation projects, and reached historic gains in fundraising and development, which included multi-million dollar donations from Simmons Bank and the Windgate Foundation.

The blueprint for the university’s recent success, Growing the Pride: 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, emphasizes five priorities: Growing enrollment and fostering student success, 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, the university completed 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 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. He also serves as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Presidential Forum, the Vice Chair of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors, 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 also served as a mentor in the Millennium Leadership Initiative Institute of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

His state and local civic involvement includes Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Arkansas Census 2020 Complete-Count Committee, service on the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Arts Center, the Go Forward Pine Bluff Task Force, the Board of Directors of Fifty for the Future of Pine Bluff, Inc., the Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc. Board, the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation Board, and the Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance Board.

Prior to joining UAPB, Alexander had an outstanding 22-year career in the professoriate and the administration at the University of Florida, a 55,000-student Top-10 public land-grant research institution and member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). He joined the university in 1991 as an assistant professor and rose through the ranks to become a tenured Professor in the UF Department of Journalism, serving four years as Chair and Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department of Journalism, seven years in university-wide leadership roles as the Associate Dean of the 12,000-student Graduate School and Director of the Office of Graduate Minority Programs, and eight years as an inaugural Distinguished Teaching Scholar in the UF Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

As a Professor, Alexander taught more than 10,000 students in a variety of classroom settings at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school levels. He was the co-author of Student Free Speech in Public Higher Education, a monograph published by the Education Law Association, and he has published widely in scholarly and professional journals in media and legal areas of free expression, the First Amendment, the journalist’s privilege and protections, and news media responsibility, including articles in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and the Yale Law & Policy Review.

In his role at the UF Graduate School, Alexander contributed to the growth of the university’s graduate-research enterprise. He served as Chair of the University Graduate Curriculum Committee, and he established the Annual Graduate Student Grants & Fellowships Conference that increased student preparation and success in acquiring external research funding. He led programs and initiatives in the recruitment, retention, progression, and graduation of underrepresented minority students. He 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. He served as an inaugural Provost Administrative Fellow in the UF Office of Academic Affairs. In addition, he was a Fellow in the 2012-2013 Southeastern Conference Academic Leadership Development Program (SEC-ALDP), and he participated in the Harvard University Seminar for New Presidents in 2013.

Alexander’s core administrative foundation and values grew out of his abiding commitment to the advancement of teaching and research excellence and his success as a teacher-scholar who received numerous significant awards, honors and recognition for his research and teaching. He was selected as the 12th UF Distinguished Alumni Professor, a UF Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a UF Research Foundation Professor, 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. Moreover, his 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. He also has served in various 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, in key divisional leadership roles, and on accreditation teams.

While at UF, Alexander served on the Board of Directors of the University Athletic Association, the Board of Directors of the National Alumni Association, and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Independent Florida Alligator student newspaper.

Earlier in his career, Alexander served on the faculty of Temple University and the University of New Orleans. He also worked in the journalism profession at The Houma (La.) Courier, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He maintains his ties to the legal profession through membership in the Louisiana State Bar Association. He also is a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

A native of New Orleans, Alexander received a bachelor's degree in Drama and Communications 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 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.