Maria Markham

Arkansas Department of Higher Education

Maria Markham has worked in various areas of higher education. She started working for the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) as its director in August 2016.

Markham attended Henderson State University, where she received a BBA degree in marketing and an MBA. She also received her doctorate in business from North Central University. Her business degree focuses on specialization in organizational leadership.

One of Markham’s biggest job duties is to manage staff whose jobs revolve around the policy directives of the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board. She also helps develop funding recommendations that correspond with the state’s 11 public universities and 22 public two-year colleges.

Markham, her husband and their five children currently reside in Little Rock.

Hometown: Athens

First job: Washing dishes at Self Creek Restaurant on Lake Greeson was my first paid job. I was always expected to work on my family farm as a kid.

Favorite food: A medium-rare steak.

What attracted you to your career? I like solving complex problems, especially when the solutions help students change their futures. I began by helping one student at a time to navigate through their college journey. Now I get to solve problems for large groups of students by removing barriers and developing policies that facilitate success.

First big break: I had a little “who luck” early on. I was hired as an undergraduate by Dr. Charles Dunn at Henderson State University to work in the president’s office. That is where I found my passion for higher education and it allowed me to begin my career much earlier than most in this field.

Childhood nickname: Patty. That’s what my papaw called me.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know? I love to ride roller coasters.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? I have five kids, so any time we arrive to our destination on time, I have a new proudest accomplishment.

Hobbies: Mainly travel. I love to explore new cities and try new things. Beach, mountains, road trips, all of it. I also enjoy sewing and making crafty things. I’m not artistic, but I like to play.

What do you love about what you do? I really enjoy the people who work with me at ADHE. We have a great team that gets so much accomplished with few resources. I also like to contribute to the improvement of our state: getting more students to economic independence leads to better quality of life for all of us.

What living person do you most admire? My oldest son, Charlie. He is 9 and lives with autism. To most, he has a disability with many struggles, but Charlie is the happiest child you will ever meet. He is not impacted by peer pressure or the opinions or expectations of the world. He is gentle, kind and pure. I adore his sweet spirit.

What talent would you most like to have? Well, any talent at all would be a start. Seriously, I wish that I could play an instrument. I’ve tried and I just don’t have the natural ability or the attention span to stick with practice.

Photo by Jamison Mosley


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