UCA President Houston Davis announced that as of Aug. 1, Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Steven Runge will be returning to the classroom in an email to faculty and staff on June 15.
Runge said that new presidents often want to hire a new provost, and that he knew this was a possibility and respects Davis’ decision.
“There’s a transition taking place, but I have every confidence that the university is headed in the right direction,” Runge said.
Executive Vice President and Provost serves as the chief academic officer for the university. Any operations involving academics report to the provost, Runge said.
According to Davis’ email, he will appoint an interim provost on Aug. 1 before starting the process of hiring a new provost.
“Dr. Steve Runge has provided many years of great service to UCA and will continue to be a valuable member of our university family,” Davis said in his email.
During the fall, Runge plans to restart his research lab, as he will begin teaching at UCA in the spring.
During his five years as provost, Runge has had several accomplishments, one of which being the development of the UCA Core, an academic program that each student at UCA must follow to graduate.
“Several of my predecessors attempted to tackle this, but hadn’t been successful,” Runge said. “So it was a big accomplishment.”
Runge also listed handling a publicized crisis, new degree programs and “closing the gap for minority students” as his accomplishments while provost.
“If we admit a student to UCA, it’s with expectations that they will succeed,” Runge said. “With a network of support mechanisms, I think we can close the achievement gap between minority and majority students.”
Runge announced that, dependent on the Arkansas Department of Higher Education’s approval, the university will offer two new degree programs this fall: computer engineering and engineering physics, UCA’s first engineering programs. The programs will be voted on next month.
“I’m very proud of UCA’s quality of education,” Runge said. “You should, with every bit of confidence, be able to state and know that UCA’s education is just as good as any university in America.”
Runge, who became provost in February of 2012, has worked at UCA since 1991 and has served as a professor, chair of the Biology Department and dean of the College of Natural Science and Mathematics.
He has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and said he’s looking forward to teaching again.
“The classroom has always been my sanctuary,” Runge said. “There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing those lights come on.”
In an email Runge sent to faculty and staff as a response to President Davis’ announcement, Runge said he “may pursue a leadership position in the future, but for now, [he is] very excited about teaching and researching again.”