James L. “Skip” Rutherford, chairman of the board of the William J. Clinton Foundation and executive vice president of Little Rock’s Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods communications firm, today was named dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Rutherford follows former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, the school’s first head administrator who was named founding dean in February after serving as dean since June 2004.
In making the appointment, University of Arkansas System President Dr. B. Alan Sugg said Rutherford would begin May 8.
“We’re very fortunate to have Skip make this move at a time when the Clinton School is beginning to establish itself as a leader in the world of public service,” Sugg said. “His ability to lead is matched only by his desire to succeed. Nine years ago, Skip and I led a group to visit the presidential libraries in College Station, Austin and Atlanta. His enthusiasm and interest in the University of Arkansas’ involvement was high even then. I watched with admiration as he led the building of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park here. No wonder I am confident in Skip’s ability to use his considerable ingenuity and persistence in following David Pryor as dean of the Clinton School. And remember, his early career included being mentored as a public servant by Pryor, one of the greatest public servants of all time.”
Rutherford, who supervised the planning and construction of the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, formerly served as administrative assistant to Pryor in the U.S. Senate and is a past president of the Little Rock School Board. A visiting professor at the University of Central Arkansas, Rutherford has taught at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and Lyon College in Batesville. He served as the first executive in residence in the University of Arkansas’ Department of Journalism and received the department’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Rutherford said the opportunity to serve the school, the only institution in the United States to offer a master’s degree in public service, and to replace his former mentor weighed heavily in his decision to take the post. He will concentrate on development, the school’s visiting lecture series, external relations, marketing and communications.
“I am very honored to be the new dean of the Clinton School and I appreciate the confidence Dr. Sugg has placed in me. This school has incredible potential and I look forward to working with the students, faculty and staff. David Pryor and Dean Pro Tem Dr. Tom Bruce have done terrific jobs in the planning and opening of the school. I hope to build on this success and I hope people throughout Arkansas, the country and the world will help me. I also want to thank my colleagues at Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods for 13 great years,” he said.
President Clinton said, "Skip and I have been friends for many years and I am very pleased that he will be serving as dean of the Clinton School. The Clinton School has an important and unique mission - to train leaders in public service. I know that Skip will bring to this new position the same energy, talent and passion he has demonstrated throughout his impressive career including as chairman of the Clinton Foundation."
Pryor said Rutherford has distinguished himself in every aspect of his career and that he expected him to continue the tradition of excellence the school has had since it opened last August.
“I congratulate President Alan Sugg for this exceptional choice in naming Skip Rutherford as the new dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. I do not think there could have been a better choice, especially at this point in the school’s young history,” Pryor said. “Skip will bring the same energy and vital commitment that he gives to any endeavor with which he is involved. He is a perfect choice and he will do a great deal to help identify our school’s unique role in the sphere of public service. He will be an inspiring and tireless leader for students and faculty.”
Stanley Reed, chairman of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, said, “I’ve known Skip for about 35 years, and his whole life has been characterized by public service and political interest. You could look far and wide and you couldn’t find a better person to be dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.”
Bruce Lindsey, CEO of the William J. Clinton Foundation, said Rutherford has the perfect combination of background and experience for the job.
“Anybody who knows Skip knows how much he cares about our young people and about public service. He will bring that commitment and his trademark enthusiasm to the school. I have had the pleasure of working with Skip for Senator Pryor, for President Clinton, and at the Clinton Foundation. I look forward to continuing our work together as he assumes this new role,” Lindsey said.
Rutherford will be stepping down as chairman of the Clinton Foundation but will remain on the Foundation Board.
He was the first president of the advisory board of the Arkansas School of Mathematics and Sciences and is a member of the board of directors for Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Lyon College and a founding member of the Little Rock Central High Museum and Visitor’s Center Board.
Named the 2006 Tourism Person of the Year at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Rutherford was honored as Arkansan of the Year by the Arkansas Broadcasters Association in 2005 and was named Arkansan of the Year by the Arkansas Times and Headliner of the Year by the Arkansas Press Association in 2004. He is also founder and organizer of the Political Animals Club, a nonpartisan grassroots organization of community leaders and activists who meet regularly to discuss politics and local issues.
Rutherford and his wife, Billie, are the parents of three children.
The Clinton School of Public Service is an independent entity of the University of Arkansas System, working in collaboration with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
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