Angela Laird Brenton, dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has been appointed provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Western Carolina University, effective Aug. 1.
The selection of Brenton, dean at UALR since 2001, concludes a national search by a 16-member campus committee to fill a vacancy created by the departure of Kyle R. Carter, who was named chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in April 2010.
“Angi Brenton’s long history and vast experience in higher education leadership roles and her remarkable skill set make her a perfect fit for Western Carolina University, especially within the context of the vision that is evolving for the institution through our strategic planning process,” WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher said in announcing the appointment Friday, May 11.
“Angi is one of the most passionate people I know in terms of the importance of a university focus on engagement with the external community,” Belcher said. “She is a strong advocate for the academic affairs of her institution, and she is one of the best communicators I have ever met in my life. She is a respected member of her community, and she is loved and adored by her faculty and staff.”
The selection of Brenton represents a reunion of sorts, as Belcher served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at UALR prior to his appointment as Western Carolina chancellor last year.
“I am honored and thrilled to be chosen as the next provost of Western Carolina,” Brenton said. “I am grateful to the search committee and to Dr. Belcher for the confidence they have shown in me. WCU is a campus with tremendous opportunities and potential. During my time on campus last week, I felt completely at home with the wonderful students, staff and faculty I interacted with. I can’t wait to don the purple and cheer on the Catamounts!”
As dean of the College of Professional Studies at UALR, Brenton is responsible for the departments of audiology and speech pathology, criminal justice, and speech communication; the School of Social Work; the School of Mass Communication; Institute of Government; public radio stations KLRE-KUAR; and the Mid-South Center, which is responsible for all child welfare training in the state of Arkansas. She oversees 150 faculty and staff in a college with an annual budget of $12 million.
She has been awarded $7.7 million in annual grants and contracts for UALR, with a grant-writing success rate of 84 percent, and has helped raise approximately $7.2 million in endowments and external support for scholarships, research equipment, clinical programs and faculty development. Under her leadership, UALR developed three new doctoral programs and graduate certificate programs in conflict mediation and nonprofit management.
Brenton spearheaded the creation of a Leadership Academy to nurture future faculty and staff leaders and led several initiatives aimed at improving race relations within the community. She developed six centers within the college to serve as a focus for research and community outreach, including the Center for Environmental Criminology, the Center for Senior Justice, the Center for Juvenile Justice, the Center for Stuttering Treatment and Research, the Center for Public Collaboration and the Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
“Both the search committee and the campus community were very impressed with Dr. Brenton’s broad experience, her open communications style, and her experience with community and regional engagement,” said Richard Starnes, head of WCU’s history department who chaired the search committee. “What impressed us most was the degree to which she knew Western and our mission. She is the right provost for us in this pivotal time in our history.”
Prior to joining the administration at UALR, Brenton was dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for research and service at Abilene Christian University and head of the department of communication and mass media at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State).
She holds a doctorate in communication studies from the University of Kansas, master’s degree in communication from the University of Oklahoma and bachelor’s degrees in mass communication and speech communication from Oklahoma Christian College. She earned a management and leadership in higher education certificate from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.