Dr. Robert Charles Brown
President Emeritus, Arkansas Tech University
Robert Charles Brown was elected the 11th President of Arkansas Tech University by the Board of Trustees in 1993. He served as president from July 1, 1993, to June 30, 2014, and was granted the titles of president emeritus and distinguished professor of economics upon his retirement from the active presideicy. He guided Arkansas Tech by a deliberate and participatory Strategic Planning Process which resulted in dramatic expansion of educational opportunity at this institution.
Enrollment grew from 4,730 to 11,369, including 15 consecutive years in which the record enrollment of the previous year was eclipsed. This was accomplished simultaneously with the establishment of moderately selective admissions standards and the resulting continuous growth in the qualifications of incoming freshmen, including 19 straight years in which test scores and grades of the new students have been above the Arkansas and national averages.
More important, degree production soared under this Strategic Plan. Of all the degrees awarded in the history of Arkansas Tech University, dating back to its founding in 1909 through spring 2014, over 61 percent were earned during the administration of Dr. Brown.
During his more than 20 years as President, Dr. Brown oversaw the addition of over 50 new programs of study. While undergraduate education remained the primary focus, graduate programs were also substantially expanded. In 2003, the University merged with the former Arkansas Valley Technical Institute, creating the Ozark Campus of Arkansas Tech.
At the most recent reaffirmation of Institutional Accreditation of the University by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, Tech earned very high marks and reaccreditation for the maximum 10 year period. Under Dr. Brown's Administration, Arkansas Tech alsoearned or maintained accreditation in Business (AACSB), Engineering (ABET), Computer Science (ABET), Teacher Education (NCATE),Nursing (NLN), Music (NASM), Health Information Management (CAHIIME), Chemistry (ACS), Parks and Recreation (NRPA), Hospitality Administration (ACPHA), Medical Assisting (CAAHP) and Rehabilitation Science (CORE). Arkansas Tech University enjoys the distinction of having the first Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program in the United States to be accredited by the Foundation of Higher Education in Emergency Management.
Due to the work of the faculty and administration, Tech achieved a graduation rate in excess of all of the state universities in Arkansas, with the exception of the flagship research campus. Tech students are assisted by a comprehensive Freshman Orientation and Advising system, and a varied and cooperative program of Student Services installed in recent years under his leadership.
Dr. Brown oversaw the complete construction and renovation of the entire physical plant at Tech, with every major facility being constructed or rehabilitated through his efforts. This was an effort of over $250 million, yet the University emerged with enhanced financial stability and strength.
All of these results were accomplished in spite of the fact that for many years Tech received the lowest funding per student of any four year university in Arkansas, and lower funding per student than most of the two year colleges in the state.
Private fund raising was established through the Arkansas Tech Foundation, with the milestone signature gift coming in 1996 from the Reynolds Foundation for the entire funding of the Ross Pendergraft Library and Technology Center.
Robert Charles Brown is a native of Coushatta, Louisiana. He attended public schools in his hometown, graduating from Coushatta High School in 1963. He was awarded one of 15 Louisiana State Board of Higher Education Full Academic Scholarships that year to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, where he earned the Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in 1967. He went on to earn the Master of Arts (1969) and Doctor of Philosophy (1976) degrees in economics from Louisiana State University.
He began as Instructor of Economics at Northwestern State, and advanced to Chairman of the Division of Business and endowed chair holder at Wingate University of North Carolina, Vice President for Development at McMurry University of Texas, Professor of Economics and Finance at Hardin- Simmons University of Texas, and Dean of the School of Business, and later Vice President for Academic Affairs at Missouri Southern State University.
Dr. Brown has served on the Division II Presidents Council of the NCAA, as President of the Gulf South Conference, and is one of the founders of the Great American Conference.
Always active in civic affairs, he was Chairman of the Board of the Joplin, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, and head of the local economic development group. In 1992, he received a Federal Appointment to be Chairman of the Kansas City Area Advisory Council for the U.S. Small Business Administration. He continued to be active as a member of the Board of the Russellville Chamber of Commerce, as a member of the local Economic Development Alliance, and has served on the Board of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
In 2002, he was named the Russellville Citizen of the Year.
In 2006, he received the Act of Courage Award from the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission.
He is a Rotarian of long standing, and a Paul Harris Fellow.
He was named to the Long Purple Line, the Hall of Distinction of his Alma Mater, Northwestern State University in 2008.
Dr. Brown has been married to Jill Lestage Brown, his college sweetheart, since 1968. A 1967 graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Jill is a civic force of her own, who gave up her career as a teacher to serve as an unpaid volunteer on behalf of Arkansas Tech. At various times, Jill served as a Board Member or Officer of the following organizations: Chamber of Commerce as founder of the Russellville Business Expo, Russellville Junior Auxiliary, River Valley United Way, Women's Foundation of Arkansas, Shelter of Sunshine for homeless children, Main Street Russellville, P.E.O, Arkansas Women in the Arts, Tech Wesley Foundation, Arkansas Girls of Promise, Committee of 100 of the Ozark Folk Center, and the Arkansas Governor's Mansion Association. She is a member of the Russellville Culture Club.
The Browns have two sons and a daughter, all adults, and five grandchildren. They are active members of All Saints Episcopal Church of Russellville.