FOR RELEASE: Friday, January 25, 2008
Trustees Unanimously Approve G. David Gearhart as Fifth Chancellor of University of Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When University of Arkansas System President B. Alan Sugg sought to find the next chancellor of the state’s flagship campus in Fayetteville, he didn’t need to look very far to find his nominee.
Dr. G. David Gearhart, vice chancellor for university advancement since 1998, was recommended by Sugg to the university’s board of trustees today to serve as the fifth chancellor of the University of Arkansas, effective July 1, 2008.
The board approved Gearhart’s candidacy by a unanimous 10-0 vote. He will succeed Chancellor John A. White, who earlier this month announced his intention to retire on June 30.
“This is a great day for the University of Arkansas and the state as a whole,” said Sugg. “When David Gearhart expressed to me his interest in the job, it was an easy decision to move this process along quickly. I knew that I would not find a more outstanding leader, effective communicator or true ambassador for the University of Arkansas than David Gearhart. I know that he will work hard as chancellor to provide the resources and support to carry out the mission and tradition of the University of Arkansas.”
Gearhart, 55, holds both a doctorate and a law degree from the university, and is currently the university’s senior officer providing leadership for development, alumni relations, constituent relations, university relations and special events. He also holds a faculty appointment as professor of education.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the responsibility that the board of trustees has asked me to take on for the university and, indeed, for the state of Arkansas,” said Gearhart. “I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”
Gearhart is perhaps best known for guiding the overwhelmingly successful Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, which raised more than $1 billion for the Fayetteville campus between 1998 and 2005.
The campaign included a $300 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation – a gift that still ranks as the largest single donation to a public college or university in American history. The direct results of Gearhart’s leadership in this effort include the creation of 132 new endowed faculty positions, 1,738 new student scholarship and fellowship funds, dozens of new and renovated facilities and classrooms, and growth of the overall endowment from $119 million in 1998 to nearly $900 million today.
“Dr. Gearhart’s abilities as an administrator have been well known throughout the university community and this state for many years,” said Stanley Reed, chairman of the board of trustees and law school classmate of Gearhart. “While he already has made an enormous impact on the university as a vice chancellor, I know he will achieve even greater things for this campus and state as chancellor. It makes our job easy when you have an outstanding leader like David already on campus.”
A Fayetteville native, Gearhart is no stranger to the University of Arkansas, having previously served as the university’s director of development from 1982-1985 before returning to administer the fundraising, alumni and communications efforts at the university a decade ago.
His name is inscribed in the university’s Senior Walk twice, first for the juris doctorate (J.D) he obtained from the School of Law in 1977, and later to recognize the doctor of education (Ed.D) in higher education administration earned in 1989. He also was a Fulbright Scholar, having studied in England at Oxford University’s Merton College in 1992.
“I believe the ultimate success of the University of Arkansas will be measured to a large extent on how it demonstrates its usefulness to society,” said Gearhart. “Of all of the rich contributions that America has bestowed on the world, American higher education is among the most important. Our colleges and universities have become, perhaps, the most vital expression of the American political and social philosophy – a philosophy based on pluralism, inclusion, opportunity, merit and, of course, an abiding faith in the power of education to improve the human condition.
“We have a tremendous opportunity at the University of Arkansas to not only serve that noble purpose within our state’s borders, but also to redefine the boundaries of that model for public higher education across the nation and around the world,” he said.
Gearhart’s career away from Fayetteville includes a number of progressively more responsible roles in advancement consulting and higher education administration. From 1995-1998, he held the position of senior vice president and managing director of Grenzebach Glier & Associates, a prominent, Chicago-based philanthropic management consulting firm with client fund-raising goals in excess of $10 billion. Clients managed by Gearhart included nearly two dozen non-profit organizations, colleges and universities.
His most recent experience in higher education administration outside of Arkansas was a successful tenure as senior vice president for development and university relations at The Pennsylvania State University from 1985-1995. There, he provided leadership for development, alumni and university relations programs for what at the time was a 23-campus system of more than 70,000 students, approximately 350,000 living alumni and an annual operating budget in excess of $1.6 billion. Gearhart was named an honorary alumnus of Penn State in 1995.
While at Penn State, Gearhart organized and directed the university’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign, a successful effort that raised more than $352 million for endowment, academic program support, facilities and equipment. During his 10 years of leadership, total giving to the university topped $950 million, and Gearhart’s division was cited three times by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) with its grand gold medal as the nation’s top advancement program.
Gearhart’s career in higher education began at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, where he earned his baccalaureate degree in 1974 and was named a distinguished alumnus in 1992. At Westminster, he served as assistant to the president from 1976 to 1977, and then as director of development for the college and its Winston Churchill Memorial and Library from 1977 to 1978.
From there, he returned to Arkansas to serve as vice president for Hendrix College from 1978 to 1982, successfully leading a major capital campaign, “Continuity and Renewal,” during his five years in Conway before returning to Fayetteville for his first stint as chief development officer.
His experience in advancement and fund-raising has qualified Gearhart to literally write the book – two of them, in fact – on philanthropy in higher education. Several senior advancement professionals who worked under Gearhart during his career have gone on to senior administrative positions throughout higher education, including among others Arizona State University, Emory University, Iowa State University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of South Carolina and the University of Texas.
“In some ways, I feel my entire adult life has prepared me for this moment, while at the same time realizing the daunting task that lies ahead,” said Gearhart. “I have many dreams and aspirations that I’ve long held for the University of Arkansas, and I look forward in the months and years ahead to sharing that vision and working with our outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, and certainly the board of trustees, on reaching our lofty goals and realizing the full potential of our university.”
Gearhart is married to the former Jane Brockmann, his wife of 33 years. They have two married children: a son, Brock, who is a vice president with Merrill Lynch in New York, NY and married to Lindsey Vitale Gearhart; and a daughter, Katy Hunt, who is a speech pathologist in Ann Arbor, MI and married to Dr. Justin Hunt.
His late father, George A. Gearhart, was publisher of the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville. His mother, Joan Gearhart Havens, lives in Fayetteville.
G. DAVID GEARHART
Oxford University, Oxford, England, 1992
Fulbright Fellowship – Merton College
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1989
Doctor of Education (Ed.D), higher education administration
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1977
Juris Doctor (J.D.)
Westminster College, Fulton, MO, 1974
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1998-present
Vice Chancellor for University Advancement
Grenzebach Glier & Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL, 1995-1998
Senior Vice President and Managing Director
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 1985-1995
Senior Vice President for Development and University Relations
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1982-1985
Director of University Development
Hendrix College, Conway, AR, 1978-1982
Vice President for Development
Westminster College, Fulton, MO 1977-1978
Director of Development
Westminster College, Fulton, MO, 1976-1977
Assistant to the President
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, 1998-present
Professor of Education
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 1988-1995
Affiliate Assistant Professor of Education
NOTABLE CURRENT PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS
Arkansas Jurisdiction, 1977-present
University of Arkansas Fayetteville Campus Foundation, 2003-present
Arkansas World Trade Center, 2007-present
Member, Board of Advisors
Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, 2007-present
Chair, Board of Directors
The Pryor Center for Oral and Visual History, 2006-present
Member, Advisory Board
Philanthropy, Fund Raising, and the Capital Campaign: A Practical Guide
National Association of College and University Business Officers, 2006
The Capital Campaign in Higher Education – A Practical Guide for College and University Advancement
National Association of College and University Business Officers, 1995
The Pennsylvania State University
Honorary Alumnus, 1996
Distinguished Alumnus, 1992
Tysen Kendig, Associate Vice Chancellor for University
Ben Beaumont, Director of Communications