With 20 years of experience in higher education, Berry currently serves SAU as dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts. He came to the University in fall 2011 from the Department of Arkansas Heritage where he served as deputy director for two years. He previously worked at Ouachita Baptist University from 1989 until 2007. While at OBU he was a professor of history, director of the Carl Goodson Honors Program and director of the Daniel R. Grant International Studies Program. He left Ouachita for the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he served as dean of social and behavioral sciences.
Berry said his motivation to apply for the VPAA position came as a result of the listening sessions he held when he became dean.
“I heard from a faculty who wanted to advance the academic programs in new and innovative ways,” he said. “I thought, ‘Here’s a faculty that is sitting on go, ready to move forward.’”
Many administrators plan to “hit the ground running,” but Berry said his first priority will be to “hit the ground listening” on July 1. He plans to hold listening sessions with faculty members in each of the University’s colleges, building a collaborative vision for SAU academic programs.
Berry said he hopes the listening sessions will spark interest in innovative ways to conduct faculty development, enhance student learning opportunities outside the classroom, and create new degree programs.
“I really want the faculty to think outside the box,” he said.
A teacher at heart, Berry will continue to teach a history course each semester except for those during which the Arkansas General Assembly meets in regular session. He will also work with other administrators and the SAU Foundation to raise private funds for academic programs. One project he hopes to complete will be an endowment for student academic travel.
Berry anticipates an exciting future for academics at SAU. Among his goals will be to develop new majors and minors “that will be of great interest to this generation of students” and continuing expansion of the School of Graduate Studies. He also hopes to increase the University’s presence as a “global campus” by providing more opportunities for SAU students to study abroad and by bringing more international students to the Magnolia campus.
Berry follows Dr. David Crouse who has been serving as interim vice president for academic affairs. Crouse will return to his previous post as associate vice president for academic affairs and will fill Berry’s former role as interim dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts.
“We are delighted that Dr. Berry has agreed to serve as vice president for academic affairs,” said SAU President Dr. David Rankin. “He has been a tremendous asset to the University during his time as a dean, and we look forward to seeing his energy and enthusiasm for his work continue as our chief academic officer.”
Berry earned his undergraduate degree from Ouachita Baptist University and his master’s and doctorate in history from the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Katherine, have now made their home in Magnolia. She is employed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and is able to work from home. The Berrys have two children: a son, Tanner, age 14, and a daughter, Berkley, age 4.