Nathaniel Todd, a top state veteran after a 37-year career in the Army and Army Reserve, has been named to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Todd’s appointment on Wednesday.
Todd, 64, lives in Pine Bluff. He replaces Dr. Stephen Broughton, a psychiatrist from Pine Bluff, and will serve a 10-year term that expires in March 2032.
“I think education is important to our democracy. It’s important to our economy,” Todd said in a phone interview.
He said he returned to his home country in 2013 after retiring from his military career, where he attained the rank of colonel.
Todd previously worked as director of health financial policy for the U.S. Army Surgeon General and chief financial officer of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to Wednesday’s announcement.
In 2019, Hutchinson named him the first cabinet secretary of the state Department of Veterans Affairs. Todd had previously been head of the department.
Since returning to Arkansas, this isn’t the first time Todd has joined a group working on education in the state.
Todd was a state-appointed member of the Arkansas Commission on Closing the Achievement Gap, an effort formed in the era of federal No Child Left Behind legislation to help ensure students progress appropriately. in their studies.
Todd said “the drivers of our education gaps” may be “socio-economic”. He said it’s important that “young people and working Arkansans have access to re-equipment and further education.”
Todd, in a statement released by Hutchinson’s office, expressed his faith and thanks for being able to take on the role of administrator.
“I give glory to God for his boundless blessings. I am honored and deeply grateful to Governor Hutchinson for his trust in me, grateful for the endless support of my family, and grateful to the community of Pine Bluff and its educators who have inspired to be a lifelong learner,” Todd said in his statement.
Todd joins the 10-person board as the only black member after Broughton, who served as the only black director when he left.
Todd is a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff and, according to Hutchinson’s announcement, he “studied stewardship at the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education of the National Baptist Convention.” The Baptist National Convention is a predominantly black Christian denomination.
He described his life experiences as playing into his new role as trustee.
“I think because of where I go to church and the communities I serve and attend, I will be able to communicate to those communities the opportunities that college presents,” Todd said. , a graduate of Pine Bluff High School.
Todd described himself as “an African-American”.
“We are Americans first,” he added.
The board oversees the UA system’s six college campuses, seven community colleges, and other units, such as the online University of Arkansas Grantham.
“A lot of our future jobs will require certifications and other technical training,” Todd said, adding that he thinks community colleges in the UA system “can help tremendously in that area.”
Todd will be the only board member who did not attend a school in the UA system.
He said he joined the army after high school.
Todd went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Baylor University. He has also completed various programs at other universities, including an Executive Medical Leadership course at George Washington University and as a National Security Management Fellow at Syracuse University.
Hutchinson, in a statement, praised Todd as someone who “dedicated his entire life to the service of the United States, beginning at Pine Bluff High School where he was a member of Junior Air Force ROTC.”
“Colonel Todd is a quiet man whose compassion and faith drive all he does. I am grateful to him for agreeing to serve. His wisdom and kindness are essential at this time in the history of the University of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
Todd praised the efforts of many universities, including UA-Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, as well as schools outside the UA system for their work in educating veterans.
Many schools across the state “have done a great job creating an environment for veterans to succeed,” Todd said, adding that “there’s still work to be done.”