Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, will be the guest speaker April 19 for the kickoff of the sixth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.
Bobbitt will give a lecture titled “If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Then Any Road Will Take You There” for his 1 p.m. talk in Breedlove Auditorium. The session is open to the public, as are the student presentations which follow.
Bobbitt began his term as president of the UA System in November 2011, coming to Arkansas from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2008 until his UA System appointment.
The presidency of the System was not his first affiliation with Arkansas, however, as he earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, in 1980. His doctorate in analytical chemistry is from Iowa State University.
Bobbitt has also been a part of the UA Fayetteville faculty and administration, serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and then in 2003 taking on the role of dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
Among his many honors are the University of Arkansas Alumni Association Award in Teaching and the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award. For five years from 1988-93 he was a recipient of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Fellowship.
He has received research funding from national corporations and organizations, including the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
He is also the author or co-author of 56 refereed publications and has on several occasions been an invited speaker at meetings of the American Chemical Association.
Dr. Paul B. Beran, chancellor at UAFS, said Bobbitt’s background makes him a perfect speaker to kick off the symposium.
“Our students will be able to hear someone speak who understands and values research as an integral and vital part of the undergraduate experience,” said Beran. “Dr. Bobbitt, as leader of the UA System, will also be an inspiration to our students and faculty. He has a broad knowledge of higher education and what we can do in Arkansas to move forward.”
Dr. Ray Wallace, provost and senior vice chancellor, said Bobbitt will share insights and perspectives that could reinforce the importance of research and provide an inspiration for them to continue to pursue their ideas and interests.
“He was a student like many of our students,” said Wallace. “He was a faculty member like many of our faculty members. And then he moved up to administrative positions that led him to his current place as head of the University of Arkansas System. He’s very impressive.”
The Undergraduate Research Symposium provides an opportunity for UAFS students to present what they have learned from their research experiences to fellow students, faculty and the community.
Topics come from throughout the campus and cover numerous fields. Participating students submitted proposal abstracts prior to their selection for the symposium. Each student’s presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
UAFS classes are dismissed on the day of the symposium, allowing faculty and students the opportunity to attend the symposium as well as faculty events that morning. Bobbitt will also speak at a meeting of assembled faculty.