(KATV) - Monday, the Arkansas State University System named Jeff Hankins as its vice president for strategic communications and economic development, System President Dr. Charles L. Welch announced.
Hankins, a 1987 graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and past president of the ASU Alumni Association, most recently was president and publisher of Arkansas Business Publishing Group.
"Adding Jeff Hankins to our leadership team is a tremendous coup for the ASU System," Welch said. "Jeff is a widely respected businessman and journalist who has an exceptional understanding of the link between education and economic development. This hire further reinforces the ASU commitment to fostering collaboration among our campuses and those responsible for promoting economic development opportunities in our state. We are also committed to increasing our outreach to prospective students, policymakers, and the general public as we communicate the value of a higher education. Jeff brings a unique perspective and unparalleled qualifications to ASU, and I expect him to have a significant impact on higher education in a very short time."
In the new position, Hankins will facilitate all communications and economic development activities for the ASU System and its campuses. Those responsibilities include developing an integrated, multimedia strategy for the system and serving as the system's liaison to statewide business associations and economic development entities to facilitate activities with the campuses.
"Being able to share my passion for and experience in communications, business and higher education with Arkansas State University is an amazing opportunity," Hankins said. "The ASU campuses are doing extraordinary work in educating students and preparing them for the workplace. I look forward to working with Dr. Welch, the chancellors and their teams to make sure all of our constituencies are aware of what we are doing -- and can do -- to make Arkansas an even better place to learn, live and work."
A native of Pine Bluff, Hankins spent 32 years in the publishing and communications industry in Arkansas. During his 19 years with Arkansas Business Publishing Group, he served as publisher of the weekly Arkansas Business and led strategic planning, startup and operations of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, Arkansas Next: A Guide to Life After High School and other publications. He also guided the company into the Internet era with multiple website and social media initiatives including ArkansasBusiness.com, ArkansasSports360.com, InArkansas.com and FLEX360 website development.
Hankins has been a public speaker and television commentator since 1993, including regular appearances on KTHV, Channel 11, KATV, Channel 7, and AETN's "Arkansas Week" public affairs program. From 2003-2005, he was host and a producer of "Arkansas Business with Jeff Hankins" on AETN.
"I'm excited about using my statewide network of relationships with business leaders to enhance the ASU System's role in economic development and job growth activity through progressive partnerships," Hankins said. "Virtually every speech I have given during the past 19 years has included comments on the critical connection between business and higher education."
From 2003-2009, Hankins was also co-founder and chief executive officer of Herald Haven Media LLC, which publishes the monthly Jonesboro Occasions magazine. He worked as general manager and editor of the Pocahontas Star Herald and later the Northeast Arkansas Tribune in Paragould after graduating from ASU in 1987.
Hankins is past president of the international Alliance of Area Business Publications and was a board member of the Parenting Publications of America. He served on the Arkansas Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee for Higher Education in 2004.
He recently served as corporate chairman of the JDRF Walk for a Cure and was the 2010 Big Brothers & Big Sisters Annual Toast & Roast honoree.
He and his wife, Dr. Carrie Hankins, reside in Little Rock and have two children, Luke and Sarah Kathryn.
The ASU System serves over 22,000 students and includes campuses in Jonesboro, Beebe, Mountain Home, Newport, Heber Springs, Searcy and Marked Tree, as well as instructional sites in Paragould and at Little Rock Air Force Base.
"The Arkansas State University System is committed to being an aggressive and progressive system as we strive to meet Governor Beebe's goal of doubling the number of college degrees by 2025," Welch said. "The hiring of Jeff Hankins is yet another major step forward in our effort to further elevate the ASU System."