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Hendrix Names New Vice President for Advancement

Dr. Meredith N. Brunen to lead Hendrix fundraising, alumni relations

Brunen headshot social graphic 2024.pngCONWAY, Arkansas (January 29, 2024)—Hendrix College has named Dr. Meredith N. Brunen as its new Vice President for Advancement, effective May 1, 2024.

“We are excited for Dr. Brunen to join the Hendrix community and serve on the College’s leadership team in this critical role,” said Hendrix President Karen Petersen. “She is a seasoned higher education advancement professional with nearly two decades of successful experience, and she is very familiar with the role of Advancement in fostering lifelong relationships for the benefit of the College and its students.”  

A northwest Arkansas native, Dr. Brunen joins the Hendrix community from the University of West Georgia (UWG) in Carrollton, Georgia, where she serves as Vice President for Advancement and CEO of UWG Foundations. Under her leadership, UWG had its most successful fundraising year in history, including a 156% year-over-year increase and the institution’s largest gift ever. She also played a key role in securing a $1 million gift to establish the Stone Center for Family Business, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation. At UWG, Brunen successfully led the team to close out a $50 million campaign.

Prior to joining UWG, Dr. Brunen served in similar executive roles at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina, University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida, and NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas. Her fundraising milestones from these previous roles include a $1.6 million legacy gift to support international travel for business students (USC Upstate), a $3 million scholarship endowment for immigrants and refugees (UWF), a $15 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation for Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food project (NWACC).

“I am honored to return to my home state of Arkansas and join the esteemed Hendrix College community as Vice President of Advancement,” said Brunen. “Under the inspiring leadership of President Karen Petersen, I am eager to contribute to the College’s legacy of excellence and lead strategic initiatives that will shape the future of philanthropy at Hendrix. My family and I are thrilled to embark on this exciting journey, reuniting with the warmth and hospitality that make Arkansas truly special.”

Brunen is an active member of national organizations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She serves on the AFP Global Women’s Impact Committee and Marketing, Awards, and Communication Committee. On a local level, she is a member of the Newnan Rotary Club and is the incoming Chair of the Grants Committee.

As a result of her achievements, Dr. Brunen was named the Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year by the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professionals in 2019, recognized as a Forty Under 40 by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, and honored as the 2014 Young Woman of the Year by the Northwest Arkansas Business Women’s Conference. Recently, she was invited to serve as a founding member of the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board for the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.

A Fayetteville native, Dr. Brunen earned three degrees from the University of Arkansas: a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Middle East studies, and both master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education leadership. She is married to Kyle Brunen, who is currently working for Emory University and is also a University of Arkansas alumnus. They have two young sons, Jude and Beau.

About Hendrix College

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. Learn more at  

“… Through engagement that links the classroom with the world, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and sustainable living, the Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.” —Hendrix College Statement of Purpose