Massanelli named new UA governmental affairs chief

For the first time in 20 years, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville will have a new vice chancellor for governmental relations. The high-profile post which is expected to pay around $175,000, will be filled by Randy Massanelli, the state director for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

Richard Hudson, who now holds the vice chancellor position, is retiring July 31.

“It has truly been a privilege to be part of the University of Arkansas family, and I’ll miss working with my colleagues, as well as with legislators and other state and national officials,” Hudson said in November when announcing his retirement. “On the other hand, when I went to my 50th high school reunion in Warren last year, I was one of only two still working. This feels like the right time.”

The vice chancellor for governmental relations coordinates University of Arkansas activities related to government organizations on a local, state and federal level and works with civic organizations and our state and congressional delegations in Arkansas and Washington, D.C.

The two other finalists for the job were:
• Mac Campbell, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln and deputy staff director of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee; and
• Sen. Johnny Key, R-Mountain Home, who served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2003-2009 and in the state Senate since 2009.

“Randy comes to us highly regarded, with a strong track record of accomplishment working with all levels of government and all political parties,” University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said in a statement. “His experience with Arkansas politics will help us not only continue, but deepen, our relationships with our state lawmakers. My charge to the search committee was to find someone who could not only foster good relations with elected officials at the local, state and federal level, but who would also be effective in making the case and building support for our institutional priorities.”

Continuing, Gearhart noted: “The committee advanced three incredibly qualified finalists, each with strong credentials and experience. It was a close race and at the end of the day, Randy edged out the others with his federal government experience. Richard’s are big shoes to fill, and I’m confident Randy will ensure a smooth transition.”

Massanelli has served as state director for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor since 2002. In that capacity, he is responsible for public affairs, communications and messaging as well as field and outreach activities with constituents. Prior to that, he served as Pryor’s campaign manager in 2001-2002 and was director of operations for the Arkansas attorney general’s office.

Massanelli had a military career in the U.S. Army, earning honors that included the Bronze Star for service in the Persian Gulf War and numerous service and commendation medals. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree of science in business administration.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the next vice chancellor for governmental relations,” Massanelli said in the statement. “I am proud to be working for my alma mater and am eager to do my best for the university and our state.”

The finalists each met separately with the chancellor, as well as a number of other vice chancellors and other individuals on and off campus.

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The search committee included the following members: Kathy Van Laningham, vice provost for institutional research, committee chair; Jerry Adams, president and CEO, Arkansas Research Alliance; Lynda Coon, professor, department of history; Steve Higginbothom, former state senator, District 16; Stacy Leeds, dean, School of Law; Katy Nelson-Ginder, assistant vice chancellor for university development; Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for diversity and community; Melissa Rust, vice president for university relations, University of Arkansas System; and Gary Smith, president, Glass Erectors.

Of the 33 total applicants for the position, five were invited to campus to interview with the search committee, and three were chosen from among that group as finalists.

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