UAPB Chancellor appoints leaders to key positions

Leaders for Advancement and Research established

leader-compPINE BLUFF, Ark. – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Chancellor Dr. Laurence B. Alexander has been implementing his vision of increasing the institution in size and stature. Part of that vision includes the placement of leaders in key positions – Dr. Mary E. Benjamin as vice chancellor of Research; James B. Tyson, CFRE, as vice chancellor for Development/Institutional Advancement; and Dr. Jacquelyn McCray as interim vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“The new position in Research is needed to provide campus-wide leadership that will enable us to accomplish our goals for growing the university’s external resources through strategically pursuing additional contracts and grants,” said Dr. Alexander. “Because of the excellent leadership Dr. Benjamin has demonstrated in securing grants for the STEM Academy, she is well-suited to guide the institution through the next phases of research support from grants, contracts and partnerships through local, state, federal and private funding sources.”

Dr. Benjamin, who has served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs since 1992, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies from Tuskegee Institute, a Master of Science degree in Sociology from Atlanta University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Mississippi State University. As the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, she developed innovative programs promoting academic advancement for students and faculty. She has skillfully managed recommendations for employment, promotion, tenure and retention. Once an academic liaison to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Dr. Benjamin is the founder of the UAPB STEM Academy and has given leadership in obtaining STEM expansion grants totaling $16M from agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.

As Principal Investigator on the grants, her most recent adventure has been giving leadership in gaining approval and developing coalitions to successfully fund a $10M STEM Academy and Conference Center to centrally house the programs at UAPB. The facility is scheduled for completion by August 2014.

James Tyson has served the not-for-profit sector with distinction for more than two decades. He brings previous vice president-level leadership experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  He has developed successful fund raising programs at a number of organizations and played key leadership roles in six capital campaigns.

A former Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Virginia State University (VSU), Mr. Tyson served as a member of the Foundation Board, the Research Foundation Board and the National Alumni Association Board.  He also led the institution advancement staff at Old Dominion University through the planning and beginning implementation stages of its first capital campaign.  As an Area Director of the United Negro College Fund, he helped stabilize an organization that had seen four directors in the five years prior. During that time he exceeded goals in all but his first year. As Vice President for Development at the Central Florida YMCA, he oversaw the completion of several capital campaigns which supported the infrastructure and programmatic needs of the organization.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Morehouse College and continued his education at Old Dominion University and received a Certificate in Leadership from Harvard Business School.

“UAPB is in a great position for growth,” said Mr. Tyson. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to use my expertise to aid in moving this institution forward.”

Dr.  Jacquelyn McCray is a retired Dean of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences and retired Director of the 1890 Research and Extension Programs at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  During her tenure at UAPB, she served in various capacities including Professor of Home Economics, Assistant Administrator for 1890 Programs, and Deputy Dean, School of Agriculture and Home Economics.  Her experience in the area of grant writing and contract negotiation through the United States Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies exceeds $20 million.  In 1991, Dr. McCray was elected President of the national professional association in her discipline, The American Association of Housing Educators.  She also served as Chair of the 1890 Association of Extension Administrators, and as a member of the USDA Extension Committee on Organization and Policies.

A native of Monticello Arkansas, Dr. McCray received a Bachelor of Science degree, from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College, (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff).  She received the Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University and the Ph.D. degree from Florida State University. Named a Distinguished Alumnus by the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University and The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, McCray was named a Centennial Laureate in 2007, one of the top 100 graduates of the Florida State University College of Human Sciences during its 100 years of existence.

“I have long recognized the value of [UAPB] to the state of Arkansas, and particularly the Arkansas Delta Region,” said Dr. McCray. “Both its historical and evolving mission statements attest to the institution’s commitment to enhancing the economic, cultural and social conditions of its constituents and the communities in which they live.  I said to Dr. Alexander when he asked me to serve as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, “I will do any and everything I can to serve this University.”  This thought comes from my love and appreciation for what UAPB has done and continues to do for its students.”

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