CONWAY, Ark. (April 27, 2022) — Hendrix College is honoring the legacy of the late Dr. John Hugh Churchill with the new Churchill Memorial Plaza on campus and an endowed scholarship fund in memory of Dr. Churchill and his late wife, Jean Hill Churchill.
The plaza celebrates Dr. Churchill’s numerous contributions to the academic reputation of Hendrix and his enduring support of the College’s liberal arts heritage during his 24 years of service to the Hendrix community from 1977 to 2001 as a professor of philosophy, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, and twice as interim president.
“Throughout that entire time and beyond, John’s joy for life and family along with his passion for the liberal arts were contagious and inspiring,” said Hendrix President Ellis Arnold ’79, who first met Churchill as a student, in a philosophy class Churchill taught at Hendrix. Arnold later worked with him as a colleague in the administration. “His smile was infectious, his wit was sharp but never piercing, and his enthusiasm for storytelling was captivating. I have never known a more beloved and admired member of the Hendrix community. He is truly a Hendrix legend.”
Churchill retired in 2013 as executive secretary of Phi Beta Kappa in Washington, D.C., before his passing in November 2019. An Arkansas native, Churchill is an alumnus of Southwestern College (now Rhodes College) in Memphis, Tennessee, where he played football and received a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University.
In addition to the plaza, Hendrix will also create an endowed scholarship in memory of Dr. Churchill and his wife Jean, who died in September 2021. Jean Hill Churchill grew up in Little Rock, graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and later taught in the Conway Public Schools. Their oldest son, Will, is a 1999 Hendrix graduate.
A public fundraising campaign to complete the plaza and endow the scholarship is now underway. To date, Hendrix alumni, along with family and friends of the Churchills, have contributed more than $60,000 toward the College’s $75,000 goal for the plaza’s construction and scholarship endowment.
Support the Churchill Memorial Plaza and Jean and John Churchill Endowed Scholarship.
The fundraising effort is led by retired admission and development staff member Jack Frost ’72 and John and Jean Churchill’s brother-in-law, James L. “Skip” Rutherford, who led the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service as Dean for 15 years and received an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree from Hendrix College in 2015.
“In my four years as a student and 34 years on the Hendrix staff, I can think of no one who had a greater impact on the College; on the community — the students, the faculty and staff; on the academic program; and on the campus itself,” said Frost.
The plaza, designed by Hendrix alumni Melanie Siegel ’85 and Will Lentz ’12, will be placed on “Tabor Top” near the Murphy Building in the heart of the campus. Tabor Top was the site of Tabor Hall, one of the original Hendrix buildings, and in 1890 was recognized as the highest point in Conway.
Work on the plaza will begin this spring. A dedication of the Churchill Memorial Plaza will be held in the fall.
Watch Churchill’s 2015 Pre-Inaugural Address.
Read a philosophical reflection on football from Churchill, with a photo of him from his college football days.
About Hendrix College
A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit www.hendrix.edu.