National Politics Expert Addresses Issues Facing College Leaders

Oct 23, 2018 | Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

John S. Jackson

John S. Jackson

Dr. John S. Jackson, former chancellor of Southern Illinois University, delivered the inaugural public lecture for the National Lab for the Study of the College President at the University of Arkansas on Oct. 22. His presentation, “The Politics and Challenges of Higher Education Today,” focused on emerging and continuing issues facing college leaders.

With an audience of university administrators, graduate students studying leadership and members of the public, Jackson outlined eight challenges to current higher education administration. He highlighted, for example, the differences between “grow your own” leadership programs with hiring external candidates, as well as balancing undergraduate teaching with graduate focused research. He ended his speech by dissecting incremental and rational budgeting strategies, and the complexity presented by each.

Jackson’s speech was followed by a question-and-answer period, where David Tolliver, a doctoral student in the Public Policy Program, raised the issue of balancing internal and external hiring. Jackson’s response stressed the need for cultural understanding both of the institution and the geographic location of the institution, noting that there is no “one-size-fits-all” response.

Professor G. David Gearhart, National Lab director and U of A chancellor emeritus, introduced Jackson. The program was held at the U of A Graduate Education Building Auditorium.

In his introduction, Gearhart described Jackson’s career from working in Arkansas politics to earning his doctoral degree at Vanderbilt, then a nearly five-decade career working in higher education, including time as a faculty member, dean, provost and chancellor.

Jackson is an Arkansas native, having grown up in Waldo. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia and earned his master’s degree from Baylor University and doctorate in political science from Vanderbilt University. Throughout his academic career, he also has consulted with Arkansas governors and currently is a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Jackson is the author of several books.

The lecture was the first in a series of presentations by current and former college presidents. The National Lab also sponsors the Journal of Research on the College President.