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Let’s Go Back to School with Shane Broadway!

Updated: Apr 13

I tell ya, Shane Broadway don't get no respect, no respect at all.

The Twitter is aflutter with talk about the nomination of former Democratic Sen. Shane Broadway to serve as director of the Arkansas Dept. Of Higher Education (ADHE). Let’s discuss!

To review: Broadway, having lost his bid for lieutenant governor in 2011, was tapped to head up ADHE by Gov. Mike Beebe late last month. Broadway’s nomination was criticized by the Arkansas GOP, who noted that his experience falls well short of what is required by statute for the position, since he lacks experience in an educational setting. Cronyism, they cried! And they had a point, many agreed.

In response, the governor’s office argued that Broadway is eminently qualified for the position by virtue of the fact that he’s been warming the chair since February (my paraphrase). In an interview today with Roby Brock of the, Beebe reiterated his support for Broadway.

Which got me to pondering: What do other states demand in terms of leadership for their higher education systems?

In a rare fit of industriousness, I reviewed who runs higher ed in the states surrounding Arkansas. In all cases, our neighboring states appear to demand significant credentials, achievement and experience in the field of higher education—in fact, much more experience than Broadway boasts by virtue of his six months working at ADHE. Let’s take a look!


From bio: “David R. Russell became commissioner of higher education for Missouri in July 2010, following a 19-year career with the University of Missouri System, where he served as senior associate vice president and chief of staff.

“Prior to his tenure at the University of Missouri System, Russell served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer, retiring in 1991 as a lieutenant colonel after a 22-year career, including assignments in infantry, personnel management and public affairs.

“Russell holds a B.S. degree in education from Henderson State University, an M.A. in communications from The American University and a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia.”


From bio: “Dr. Rhoda earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Vanderbilt University (1972), a Master of Arts degree in Education from Peabody College (1974), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University (1985). He joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 2007 and currently teaches doctoral courses on public finance and public policy of higher education.”


Before graduating to his appointment as higher ed commissioner, Bounds served for four years as the state Superintendent of Education.

From bio: “Before becoming the State Superintendent in August 2005, Dr. Bounds served as superintendent of the Pascagoula School District. He was principal of two high schools and one K-12 school. He holds both a Bachelor of Science in Sports Administration and Secondary Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from the University of Mississippi.”


Purcell was previously head of ADHE, leaving in February for the Louisiana position.

From bio: “Dr. Purcell holds a BS in Public Administration from Auburn University, an M.Ed. in Counseling from the University of Montevallo, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama.”


From bio: “Dr. Paredes spent most of his academic career at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he served as an English professor, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Development and special assistant to the President…He attended the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a B.A. in English…After separation from military service, he resumed his education, receiving a Ph.D. in American Civilization in 1973, once again from the University of Texas at Austin.”


Johnson doesn’t boast a doctorate, but he was a law professor at University of Oklahoma law school and headed up a state university for 10 years. He also served as Speaker of the House in the Oklahoma General Assembly. His bio also notes that he was awarded the chancellor position following “a national search.”

From bio: “Before assuming the role of chancellor, Johnson served as the 16th president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant for 10 years… Johnson is an honors graduate of the University of Oklahoma, with an undergraduate degree in political science and a juris doctor degree from the OU College of Law. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa at OU and received the Letzeiser Award as one of OU’s outstanding seniors.”


Broadway’s nomination to head ADHE will be taken up (and in all likelihood, rubber-stamped) by the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board at a meeting in Stuttgart on July 29.

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