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Hendrix to Present Honorary Degree to Ronnie Williams ’76

Williams to receive honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at 2024 Commencement

2024.02.20 Ronnie Williams.pngCONWAY, Ark. (February 20, 2024) — Hendrix College will honor alumnus, author, and longtime higher education and community leader Ronnie D. Williams ’76 with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the 2024 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m., in Young-Wise Memorial Stadium. Following conferral of the honorary degree, Williams will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2024.

A native of Menifee, Williams graduated from Hendrix College in 1976 and earned a master’s degree from Arkansas State University. His 2022 book, Markham Street, chronicles his family’s quest for justice surrounding the death of his brother, Marvin Williams, who died in police custody in 1960. 

“We are excited to honor Ronnie Williams for his leadership in higher education and commitment to community service,” said Hendrix College President Karen Petersen, adding that Williams’ nomination was enthusiastically endorsed by the College’s Honorary Degree Committee and unanimously approved by the faculty and Board of Trustees. “His personal and professional accomplishments demonstrate the value of the residential liberal arts experience at Hendrix, and his life exemplifies the values expressed in the College’s Statement of Purpose. In every respect, Ronnie Williams has led a life of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.”

Williams retired in 2021 after four decades of service to the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) campus community, beginning in 1980 as Assistant Dean of Students and continuing through various roles, including Director of Minority Affairs (1990), Assistant to the President (1992), Vice President of Student Services (1996), and Chief Diversity Officer (2013). The UCA Board of Trustees honored him by renaming the institution’s campus center the Ronnie Williams Student Center and announcing an endowed scholarship in his name.

Active in civic life and community leadership, Williams has chaired the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Educational Television Commission; and served on the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct and the boards of the Arkansas Community Foundation and the Faulkner County Shelter for Abused and Battered Women. In 2018, he received the Guy W. Murphy Distinguished Service Award, the highest recognition from the Conway Area Chamber presented yearly to a person who has demonstrated special service to the community.

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