Dr. John Davis, director of university relations and assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, has been appointed by Governor Asa Hutchinson to a five-year term on the 11-member Arkansas Rural Development Commission (ARDC).
The ARDC is a group of citizens from rural areas throughout Arkansas charged with oversight of the programs of the Department of Rural Services (DRS). Seven ARDC members are appointed by the Governor, two by the Senate President Pro-Tem, and two by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The primary mission of the ARDC and DRS is to enhance the quality of life in rural Arkansas.
Davis, who joined the UAM faculty in 2015, holds bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.
“I’m honored that Governor Hutchinson has chosen me to be part of the ARDC,” said Davis. “The Commission, in cooperation with the DRS, plays an important role in the lives of the people of this state. With 82 percent of Arkansans living in rural areas, it’s vital that we are responsive to the needs of our rural communities.”
The DRS, formerly the Office of Rural Advocacy, is a state agency charged with assisting rural communities with a population of 20,000 and under. Established under Act 302 of 1991, DRS assists local agencies in rural areas with information and technical assistance.
One focus of the agency is to be a source of information for rural citizens and provide support services to rural communities. DRS publishes a quarterly newsletter that covers rural policies and topics. The agency also hosts an annual conference and local forums around the state throughout the course of the year.
The other focus of the agency is to provide funding for worthwhile projects in rural communities through a variety of grant programs. One such program is the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program. Since this grant’s inception, more than $6 million has been awarded to communities in all 75 counties. When the local community matches are added in, this grant program has generated more than $12 million dollars toward enhancing rural communities.