Editor’s note: The Log Cabin Democrat presents a countdown of the top 2016 stories, with the No. 1 story to be revealed on New Year’s Day. The list was compiled using data from Google Analytics about the most-read stories on our website and social media pages as well as input from the LCD news team. This story originally ran Nov. 3.
The University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Houston Davis as the 11th university president during a special meeting Wednesday night in Wingo Hall.
Davis has been serving as interim president of Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
He was one of four vying for the open position. The group came to campus last week and met with members of the UCA community as well as Conway residents and leaders.
The board met in executive session to discuss the four finalists during a called meeting 10 a.m. Wednesday at the president’s home.
During the meeting Wednesday night, a board member made a motion to appoint Davis as the new president and it was seconded. The vote was unanimous. There was no discussion. Davis, who was the only one of the four candidates on hand, was called in and shook hands with several members of the crowd before addressing the room.
He said he was very thankful to the board for the trust they were showing "in the Davis family" and was excited to join the UCA and Conway community.
"I don’t have to tell you how special your university is," Davis said. "We are naturally attracted to all that you have to offer."
He said he feels the university has only scratched the surface of its potential and said he expects to "see that we’re all going to roll up our sleeves" and put on thinking caps to continue to advance the university.
"President [Tom] Courtway… It goes without saying you’ve done an amazing job for this institution," he said. "I look forward to being able to continue the great work that you’ve done. It will be an honor to be able to serve in your place. Thank you for all that you’ve done."
UCA Chief of Staff Kelley Erstine said he believes the board "felt the search committee presented them four qualified finalists to consider" when making the final decision on who to hire for the position.
"They weighed each candidate by their own personal time with them, the campus and community evaluations and also considered strengths that each one would bring to our campus as president," he said.
Erstine added that he thinks Davis brought a skill set to the university which will allow UCA to "succeed in the legislative arena, play a strong role in and be a partner to the academic side of the house and most importantly, bring a winsome attitude to seeing that ultimately our students will succeed and graduate."
He said Davis is a strategic, personal and focused person, which contributed to him being chosen. Erstine said he thinks Davis’ time working for the Oklahoma and Georgia higher education systems and his tenure as interim president at Kennesaw State University added value.
"I believe he and his wife Jenny will immerse themselves and their family into the Conway community and will value their living here," Erstine said. "They have a strong sense of purpose."
He said Davis will probably start in his new position the later part of January or the first of February, but expects the new president to make trips to Conway in preparation for his move.
Davis will make an annual salary of $307,330 from state funds and $40,000 from the UCA Foundation for a total of $347,330. He will also receive a vehicle allowance of $750 per month from the foundation.
His contract states that he will be the UCA president for a period of five years.