Chancellor Jack Lassiter, the 11th chief executive officer of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2014.
Lassiter made the announcement at a campus meeting Tuesday afternoon.
“My decision to retire is based on family,” said Lassiter. “Judy and I have been blessed with three wonderful children and seven grandchildren, and we both felt the time was right to spend more time enjoying their company. I have enjoyed every minute of my time at UAM. It has been a privilege to work with a tremendously dedicated and talented faculty and staff who made my job easier. It’s truly been a joy to live and work in Monticello. We will always consider this our home.”
UA System President Donald Bobbitt praised Lassiter for his service to the university.
“As a dean, vice chancellor and finally as chancellor for the last 10 years, Jack Lassiter has dedicated much of his outstanding career to the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the community it serves in Southeast Arkansas,” Bobbitt said. “Throughout that time, he led UAM with a keen awareness and passion for the university’s mission as an open-access public university that provides opportunities for people to better their lives and community through education. Jack and Judy Lassiter leave a wonderful legacy at UAM and I wish them the best in retirement. It will be a challenge to find another leader who can match Jack’s energy and enthusiasm for UAM.”
President Bobbitt said he will conduct a national search in consultation with UAM faculty and staff to find the next chancellor of the university.
Lassiter became UAM’s chancellor on July 1, 2004, and wasted little time creating and implementing a master plan for the future growth of the campus. The initial stages of the plan included the restoration and landscaping of Weevil Pond, followed by the renovation and modernization of Wells Hall and Sorrells Hall as well as the addition of a campus-wide heating and cooling system. Under Lassiter’s leadership, UAM has upgraded its athletic facilities, including the construction of an indoor practice facility, an expanded press box and chair-back seating at Convoy Leslie-Cotton Boll Stadium, and renovations to both the baseball and softball facilities.
Other major accomplishments of Lassiter’s tenure include construction of the George H. Clippert Forestry Annex, which added more than 15,000 square feet of classroom, office and laboratory space to the School of Forest Resources, and the renovation of Bankston Hall, converting the one-time all-male residence hall to a coeducational residential facility.
Lassiter also instituted one of the most popular events on campus when he opened the area surrounding Weevil Pond for tailgating before football games and created the Walk of Champions, which has become a cherished pregame ritual.
A native of Greenville, Tex., Lassiter and his wife, Judy, first came to UAM in 1977, living in an apartment in Horsfall Hall. Lassiter worked as director of the Learning Development Center while completing his doctorate while his wife served as director of Horsfall Hall.
Lassiter returned to Texas in 1978 to serve two years as dean of college and student services at Wharton County Junior College before returning to UAM in 1980 as vice chancellor for university relations and student services, beginning a 17-year stay on the Monticello campus. In 1993, he became the institution’s chief academic officer when he was named vice chancellor for academic affairs and student services.
Lassiter left UAM in 1997 to become chancellor of the UA Community College at Batesville before accepting an offer from UA System President B. Alan Sugg in 2001 to become executive vice president of the UA System in Little Rock.
Three years later, Lassiter was named Chancellor of UAM.
“I always wanted to come back,” he said at the time. “I missed the campus and I missed the community. UAM is, and always will be, a special place for my family.”
Lassiter indicated the timing for his retirement was based in part on the upcoming accreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. An HLC accreditation team will visit the campus in October.
“This is an important time in the life of the university and I wanted to see the institution through the accreditation process,” he explained.