New UAM Chancellor Dr. Karla Hughes addresses local residents at the Crossett Economic Development Foundation office Jan. 19. (Tom White/News Observer)
Newly-installed University of Arkansas at Monticello Chancellor Dr. Karla Hughes could best be described as a “people person.”
During a meet-and-greet session with about 40 local residents at the Crossett Economic Development Foundation Tuesday, her second official day on the job, Dr. Hughes mentioned two incidents in her past that were examples of her philosophy regarding the role of education in the lives of students and the communities they serve.
The first, she said, occurred when she herself was a freshman in college.
“There was a dean there who knew every one of us by name,” Dr. Hughes said. “And I said to myself, ‘That’s what I want to be.’”
The second, she said, came years later, when she was on the staff at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.
Near the college, Dr. Hughes said, was a run-down area known as East Greenville, which she described as “not a good place to be” due to high crime and neglect.
Then, she said, a bond issue, spearheaded by the mayor, was passed and East Greenville was cleaned up.
ECU, Dr. Hughes said, was given space in a former church building, and graduate students from the university “went to every house in the neighborhood” to seek ideas on what residents wanted.
Homes were renovated, she said, and banks and businesses assisted.
“That area is on its own now and no one knows my name there now,” she said. “That’s community development.”
When she spoke with the mayor later, Dr. Hughes said, she asked why he always spoke of roads and buildings, but not people.
She said that the Greenville mayor, an accountant by trade, said “I don’t do people.”
Dr. Hughes “does” people, and spoke of the need for involvement between UAM and the community.