Effective January 15, 2016, Professor Emerita Karla Hughes became a tenured professor of agriculture and chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the only open enrollment, four year university in the state. She is also the first female to lead a four-year university in the University of Arkansas System. UAM is a four-year liberal arts university located in Monticello, Arkansas with Colleges of Technology in Crossett and McGehee, Arkansas. UAM offers masters, baccalaureate, and associate degrees as well as certificates. It is also home to Arkansas’ only School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Prior to her arrival at the UAM, the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System (the largest higher education system in Louisiana operating with a budget of nearing $750 million that enrolls 88,000 and graduates 16,000 students at nine state universities) approved the appointment of Karla Hughes as the UL System’s Executive Vice President and Provost as well as the deputy to System President Sandra K. Woodley. In addition, Dr. Hughes monitored and supported the direction of academic programs at all nine universities in the system. She led the nine regional universities of the system in building the academic support for the $40 million WISE (Workforce Investment for a Stronger Economy) Bill.
Professor Hughes also served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Morehead State University (MSU) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. At MSU she administered an operating budget in excess of $94.9 million while providing leadership for 367 full- and 355 part-time faculty, as well as 114 full- and 203 part-time staff in Academic Affairs on the University’s main and four regional campuses.
Dr. Hughes draws on over 35 years of teaching and leadership experience in the Academy during which time she served with distinction as a faculty member, department chair, dean, and provost involved in public affairs, institutional research, outreach and student services. While at Morehead State, Dr. Hughes chaired the Kentucky Postsecondary Education System’s Council of Chief Academic Officers representing eight institutions including the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville. In addition, she had a leading role in the development of Kentucky House Bill 160 College Transfer legislation as well as other statewide initiatives including early development of an adult education alliance. Soon after Dr. Hughes’ appointment at MSU in 2007, she introduced initiatives that became part of a continuous improvement effort to insure access to 21st Century programs resulting in 16 percent, back-to-back increases that lead to an all-time high enrollment.
Her previous leadership experiences also included selection as a year-long American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow with an initial semester-long placement in the Office of the President at the University of North Carolina System serving 17 institutions. Besides academic appointments at the University of Missouri, Virginia Polytechnic and State (Virginia Tech), East Carolina, Kansas State, Middle Tennessee State, and Morehead State Universities, three as tenured professor, she has also developed professional relationships with faculty and administrators at six historically black universities.
During the 15 years that Hughes held statewide, outreach appointments in Kansas and Missouri, she developed the first computerized programs for Missouri Cooperative Extension, and her alternative agriculture enterprise was recognized by the University of Missouri System president as among the state’s 10 best economic development programs. Moreover, her outreach and coalition-building skills were recognized nationally when the Intergenerational Community Center that she organized in 2004 through a three-way partnership between Pitt Community College, the City of Greenville, and her college at East Carolina University earned the national, Association of Public and Land-grant University’s C. Peter Magrath University / Community Engagement Award.
Professor Hughes holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, as well as Master and Bachelor of Science Degrees from Kansas State University. She also completed post graduate work at the University of Missouri-Columbia in personnel administration. When she left East Carolina University, she was granted Professor Emerita status.
Karla Hughes is married to L. R. Hughes, a retired air force officer. She has a daughter, Hilary, and two step-sons, Rex and Bailey. Beau, her yellow lab, is also an important part of her family. Since moving to Monticello he is affectionately known to some as “Beau-Weevil” after the UAM mascot, boll weevil. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and reading. She boasts a tasty pastry recipe and enjoys using it for her specialty, pecan pies.