Northark names Esters as new president

Thu May 12, 2016 at 04:10 PM

Randy Esters

North Arkansas College began the search for a new president who could increase enrollment, generate revenue, retain students and strengthen relationships with local high schools and university partners. The Presidential Search Committee also wanted someone who could strengthen Northark’s position as a premiere provider of workforce training and economic development. 

Presidential Search Committee Co-chairs Jane Adair and David Evans believe the College has found that in Dr. Randall “Randy” Esters. 

The Northark Board of Trustees, chaired by Scott Miller, added the President decision onto the agenda for the regularly scheduled May 12 meeting. The Board gave Dr. Esters an overwhelming nod of confidence and unanimously voted to offer him the position. Dr. Esters accepted the offer and will become the next President of North Arkansas College as of July 1, 2016.

“My first priority will be to enhance a student centered environment. Northark serves several purposes but at the end of the day, we are about serving students and the community,” Esters said.  

This is his first opportunity to serve as a college president, but he brings more than 25 years of leadership experience to the College. “I chose Northark because I can use my skills and energy to make a difference,” Esters said. “My family and I are honored to be selected to lead Northark into the future. We’re eager and excited to become part of this great community.”

A self-described “fixer”, Dr. Esters told the crowd at the forum he learned how to repair just about anything growing up on a farm in Louisiana and he likes that role. Dr. Esters is currently the dean of liberal arts at the Louisiana State University - Eunice. Prior to being at LSUE, Dr. Esters was dean of education at Louisiana College, where he was promoted to Associate Vice President for International Affairs. He was also served the Louisiana Community and Technical College system for many years and is a former principal in the PreK-12 system.

From 36 individuals, the search was eventually narrowed to three candidates, each of whom spent time on the Northark campuses.  The campus community and members of the public then met with the candidates in a series of open forums, during which feedback was gathered and considered by the Board of Trustees.  Following extensive review and discussion with students, faculty and staff, high school partners and members of the community, the Board recommended Esters as the next president of North Arkansas College.

Search committee co-chair and Board Trustee, David Evans, said Esters unique knowledge and experience as a high school principal combined with diverse higher education academic experiences provides a “rare combination that can really move Northark forward in recruiting students.” Co-chair Jane Adair was impressed with Randy’s ability to energize a room filled with faculty, staff or community members, comparing him to the College’s beloved founding President. “Dr. Bill Baker could enter a room of strangers, and, when he left, everybody felt as if they were his best friend. Randy has that talent,” Adair commented.

Adair and Evans said the search was a “very good process” that was inclusive and fostered positive conversations while providing opportunities for all stakeholders to give input into the candidate selected as the new President.

Board Chair Scott Miller commented “The Board of Trustees is confident that Dr. Esters will be a vibrant leader who will listen, build relationships and establish trust.  The depth and breadth of his experience, knowledge and ability to communicate provided the “fit” we were looking for.”

Esters will replace outgoing President, Jackie Elliott, whose resignation will be effective June 30, 2016. Elliott has accepted a position as President of Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz.

A public reception will held on Thursday, June 2, 2016 to welcome Dr. Esters to the community. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the L.E. “Gene” Durand Center on Northark’s Center Campus in downtown Harrison.  All members of the college community and public are invited to attend.

North Arkansas College is committed to providing an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. No form of sexual discrimination will be tolerated. See the full North Arkansas College Title IX Policy and Procedures for the specific definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including examples of such conduct.