University of Central Arkansas officials confirmed Tuesday that the school’s provost, Dr. Lance Grahn, will return to a faculty position in the history department.

Dr. Steven Runge, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, has been named interim provost.

Grahn joined the administration staff in 2008 and was granted tenure, according to Jeff Pitchford, vice president of government and university relations. Grahn served as second in command under the past two university presidents as well as recently named President Tom Courtway.

Grahn said in an e-mail Tuesday that he intends to remain at UCA and teach.

"No decision on change of salary has been made" for Grahn or Runge, Jeff Pitchford, vice president of government and university relations, said.

Courtway said he met with Grahn on Monday to discuss the university’s future.

"Based upon that meeting, we agreed that he would step down as provost and vice president of academic affairs," Courtway said, adding that Runge will begin his duties immediately.

Provost duties include supervision of all faculty members.

"You oversee the entire university’s academic programs and mission" as provost, Pitchford said. "At UCA, you’re looking at probably 60 percent of our budget being dedicated to academics. There’s faculty salaries and classroom expenses involved."

Pitchford said only that Courtway and Grahn "both mutually agreed" that the provost change is in the best interest of the university.

"During his time as provost and in carrying out his duties, Dr. Grahn conducted himself professionally, worked tirelessly for the University, its faculty, staff and students, and adhered to very high standards," Courtway said via e-mail. "Dr. Grahn plans to concentrate his future efforts on the classroom and on scholarly research in the history department."

Grahn addressed his colleagues by e-mail Tuesday, stating, "It has been my pleasure to serve UCA as provost during a difficult time in the university’s history, and I certainly wish the university all the best as it continues to move ahead under President Courtway’s and the Trustees’ leadership."

Janet Wilson, Faculty Senate president at UCA, declined comment regarding the former provost’s status or the selection of Runge because the issue is a personnel matter.

Wilson said she has scheduled a meeting with Runge for later in the week to discuss ongoing Faculty Senate activities that she hopes will be addressed prior to the semester’s end. 

Runge, 48, joined the university in 1995 as an assistant professor in the biology department. He earned the rank of associate professor in 1995 and moved to professor in 2004, the year he also accepted his appointment as department chair. Runge became dean of the college in July 2010. 

According to UCA, Runge has developed and taught courses in molecular and cellular biology, and he maintains an active research program studying cell death mechanisms in cultured breast cancer cells.

Runge currently serves as vice-chairman of the Arkansas STEM Coalition, as the UCA representative on the Arkansas INBRE Steering Committee and is a member of the board of directors of Life Long Learners Inc.

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