December 6, 2023


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Carey Tucker Named Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Carey Tucker and Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger.
Carey Tucker and Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger during a SouthArk event.

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, following a national search, has announced the appointment of its newest Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Carey F. Tucker, Thursday, June 3, 2021.  


The VCFA serves as the institution’s chief financial officer and is responsible for oversight of the university’s outsourced services, supervision of bond performance, and the Budget, Finance & Business Services, Human Resources, Plant Operations, IT Services, and University Police departments on the UAFS campus.


Tucker currently serves as the Vice President for Finance and Administration at South Arkansas Community College where he has developed significant experience in financing the operational needs and strategic vision of the institution. 


In his role at SouthArk, he manages budgets, financial statements, accounting, financial planning, legislative requests, human resources, procurement, physical plant, contract review, real estate transactions, safety, security, information technology, and property and property and vehicle insurance programs. He also provided executive management of auxiliary operations for the El Dorado Conference Center, the college bookstore, vending operations, and the South Arkansas Arboretum State Park.


“My wife and I are really excited about coming to UAFS and joining the Fort Smith community,” said Tucker, who will begin his role at UAFS in early July.  Tucker and his wife, the former Gretchen Wilson, of 41 years, have three sons and nine grandchildren.


In addition to his higher education background, Tucker is an active member of numerous state, regional, and national organizations, a board member-at-large for the Arkansas Association of College and University Business Officers, and was selected as the 2020 Arkansas Phi Beta Lambda Outstanding Business Person of the Year.


 “As a deeply respected, incredibly knowledgeable individual, I know Carey Tucker will thrive at UAFS,” said UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley. “I am confident his creativity, strategic vision, and deep understanding of higher education, finance, and the laws and processes of the state of Arkansas will lead to his success in all areas of the Division of Finance and Administration.”

Riley also noted Tucker’s innovative and decisive leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as particularly impressive. 


“This post-pandemic period will be an interesting time for our nation and particularly higher education,” Tucker said. “The pandemic taught us the need to be flexible, imaginative, and technologically driven to provide continuous education for our students under austere situations. 


“I think this will be a critical time for UAFS to make some strategic decisions to impact this community and our university for years to come and I look forward to being part of a team that puts the focus on our students, especially with such a large population of first-generation college students. I’m impressed with the extra steps UAFS faculty and staff take to help our students succeed and I look forward to working with such a fine group of professionals on campus.”


Before entering the higher education sphere in 2015, Tucker served a distinguished military career, which culminated in his role as the Deputy Director for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support for the Air Force Global Strike Command, and helped him develop a wealth of knowledge on the impact of operational decisions on strategic, long-term organizational objectives, and decisive planning through good financial times and dire financial straits. During his 30-years in the U.S. Air Force, Tucker, a retired colonel, managed multimillion-dollar budgets and developed policies to manage more than $4 billion in inventory, and led numerous multi-functional organizations including two commands. 


“I consider working in higher education as an extension of the service I was blessed to perform with the Air Force. In the military, we provide protection for our nation and as a commander, I was also tasked with ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of those troops under my command. In essence, the VCFA at UAFS also focuses on the health, safety, and welfare of our students and employees.”


Blake Rickman, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and search committee chair noted with particular pride the difficulty in choosing just one of the many talented candidates interested in joining the UAFS administration.


“The pool of candidates was incredibly deep, with a diverse range of experiences, skills, and backgrounds,” Rickman said. “Though the choice to narrow such an exceptional pool was tough, I am thankful for the dedication of each member of the search committee who truly immersed themselves in this search to ensure the best candidate was chosen. We couldn’t be happier to bring Carey Tucker in as our new Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, and we know his appointment comes after confident selection by individuals across campus who were deeply impressed by his comprehensive experience and vision for the future.”


Kathy McDermott, who served as interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration through The Registry, an agency specializing in interim executive placements, will conclude her full-time work at UAFS July 19, and will continue in a part-time role to consult with the new VCFA through the end of her one-year contract in September.