In 1876 the institution which was to become Hendrix College was established in Altus, Arkansas, by Isham L. Burrow, a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (now the United Methodist Church). Central Institute had an enrollment of 20 pupils. Originally a primary school, the institution soon added a secondary and then a collegiate department. In 1881 the name was changed to Central Collegiate Institute.
In 1884 Central Collegiate Institute was purchased by the Methodist Church in Arkansas. Five years later the primary department was discontinued, and the institution was renamed Hendrix College in honor of Bishop Eugene R. Hendrix. It was designed as the “male college” of the Methodist Church, South, in Arkansas, but it continued to accept women students. In 1890 the Board of Trustees moved Hendrix College from Altus to Conway. In 1890 Hendrix had five faculty members and 150 students, including about 25 in the collegiate department. By 1900 Hendrix was cited by the U.S. Office of Education as having higher standards for admission and graduation than any other institution of higher learning in Arkansas. In 1908 the school was accredited as a “Class A” college by the Methodist Church, and two years later it received the first of several substantial financial gifts from the General Education Board of New York (the Rockefeller Foundation).
National academic recognition was achieved with membership in the North Central Association of Colleges in 1924, the first year Arkansas institutions were eligible for membership. International accreditation followed in 1929 with a place on the approved list of the American Association of Universities. The secondary department (Hendrix Academy) was discontinued in 1925; residential facilities for women students were increased, and the student enrollment stabilized at around 325. During the period 1929-33, Hendrix was merged with Henderson-Brown College of Arkadelphia and Galloway Woman’s College of Searcy. When Hendrix celebrated its semi-centennial in 1934, it had firmly established its role as a small, co-educational, undergraduate, residential, liberal arts, church-related institution. Constant institutional advancements led to entry into the Associated Colleges of the South and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, new residential and academic buildings, and a 35% increase in the number of faculty between 1988 and 2002. The number of full-time faculty has also grown from 81 to 109 since 2002. Consistently recognized for excellence in undergraduate liberal arts education, Hendrix emerged in the 1990s as a leader in undergraduate research. More recently, the College has achieved national prominence for the Odyssey Program, which organizes and integrates into the academic program a rich array of engaged learning opportunities in several categories.
From the foundation of almost 140 years of excellence in education, Hendrix College moves confidently into the future.