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SouthArk president announces plans for retirement

Board of Trustees starts process replacement by Michael Shine | May 21, 2019 at 8:56 p.m.

Dr. Barbara Jones announced her intentions to retire as South Arkansas Community College President on Tuesday during a Board of Trustees meeting.

At the start of the meeting, Jones stated she’d been working on plans that could be in place for the next president to come in and wrap up. These include the four-year insurance argument – which is due in 2021 – and the college’s improvement plans.

“You want somebody to walk in and be a part of the finishing,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of work over the past year to be data driven in decisions. We’ve created a culture of accountability and assessment and improvement. I’m proud of that. Everybody’s been working together and we have some great results because of it. We’ve got a good administrative team in place and they can help carry out that plan and help that next person to take that vision forward.”

Jones, who has been in the position for 10 years, did not have a specific date for her to retire. Prior to coming to SouthArk, Jones was the dean of instruction at Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe, Louisiana. While she’s hoping for January, she believes the deadline is flexible based on how the search for a new president goes.

Since Jones took the position in the summer of 2009, the El Dorado Conference Center has been constructed — which is used by the college for student services — SouthArk started offering degrees fully online, The Girls Learning About Math and Science started and the 9/11 memorial was constructed. More recently, Jones has been working on repairs of the Administration Building after it’s fire last year. Her tenure has also seen the expansion if subjects offered by the college and as well as the beginning of the school’s upcoming men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The Board of Trustees will lead the search for a new president. A committee will be made up of four board members along with faculty and staff from SouthArk and community members from the surrounding area. The Board selected the four members to be on that committee with Wayne Gibson who joined the Board this year, Jose Covas, Melissa Jerry and Board Chair Steve Cousins. It will be a national search.

The next step – along with rounding out the committee – is to look at search firms to help with the search. Cousins said they’d look at different firms without any commitment to choose one.

Jones said part of her goal is to make this as smooth a transition as possible. Cousins said the last time the college had a president search, the Board had very little notice, but with this kind of notice they have the chance to make it more seamless.

“It’ll allow us to do a thorough search and find the right person,” Cousins said. “We wish Dr. Jones a good retirement. It’s a lot of work, but it’s certainly worth it. This is our main job.”

Since Jones has been part of the SouthArk community for as long as she has, there’s going to be an adjustment period. However, she said the decision to retire was personal.

“I hate to leave SouthArk,” she said. “I love SouthArk and you put your heart and soul into it. But it’s become a personal decision. That order in life for me should be god, family and work. Sometimes work has crept too high on the list and I need to get things in balance.”

Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.


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