University of Arkansas chancellor Joe Steinmetz to resign

June 18, 2021 GMT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — The head of the flagship University of Arkansas campus announced Thursday that he would step down, citing the challenge of leading the school in “today’s polarized society.”

University of Arkansas Chancellor Joe Steinmetz announced his resignation would take effect Friday. His resignation came after the UA Board of Trustees met in executive session but took no action.

“I still strongly believe in the mission of higher education, yet given the many challenges found trying to manage a university in today’s polarized society, I need to do what’s best for my family and I feel ready to make way for others,” Steinmetz said in a statement announcing his decision. Steinmetz’s statement did not elaborate.

Steinmetz’s resignation comes after his recommendation last month to move a campus statue of the late Sen. J. William Fulbright in response to complaints about Fulbright’s support of segregationist legislation.

Republican lawmakers during a hearing last week told Steinmetz that such a move would violate a new state law protecting monuments and could result in criminal charges.

Steinmetz has served as the school’s chancellor since January 2016.

The university said in a release that UA System President Donald R. Bobbitt would visit with the campus and the school’s supporters before announcing plans for choosing the next chancellor,