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Hendrix to Celebrate Inauguration of 13th President

Inauguration of Dr. Karen Petersen set for Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m.

CONWAY, Ark. (March 27, 2024) — Hendrix College will celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Karen Petersen, the 13th president of the College, on Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m., on the west lawn of Fausett and Ellis Halls. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in Staples Auditorium.

The inauguration ceremony takes place during Alumni Weekend 2024.

In connection with the inauguration, there will be a panel discussion titled “The Liberal Arts, Leadership, and the Greater Good” on Friday, April 19, at 2:30 p.m., in Mills C of the Mills Center for Social Sciences. The program will feature Hendrix alumni leaders in politics, business, medicine, and education, who will share their reflections on the past, present, and future of the liberal arts and leadership in Arkansas. Panelists include Linda Pondexter Chesterfield ’69 (politics), Mike Steely ’88 (business), Anna Patterson Strong ’04 (medicine), and Ronnie Williams ’76 (education). Co-moderators include Corissa Ross ’24, a history and politics major, and Associate Professor of History Dr. Jonathan Hancock.

About President Petersen

Petersen was elected the 13th President of Hendrix College by the Hendrix College Board of Trustees in January 2023. She took office on June 1, 2023, following the retirement of President Emeritus W. Ellis Arnold ’79. She is the second woman to lead Hendrix as President, following Dr. Ann H. Die Hasselmo, who served from 1992 to 2001.

A native of northwest Arkansas, Petersen was selected following a comprehensive national search process involving Hendrix alumni, Board of Trustees members, faculty, staff, and students. She joined the Hendrix community from the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was a professor of political science and Dean of the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences.

Before joining the University of Tulsa, Petersen served 16 years at her undergraduate alma mater Middle Tennessee State University, a large regional comprehensive university in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In addition to being a faculty member, she served in three progressively responsible leadership roles culminating with her tenure as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the largest academic unit.

Petersen earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University. She and her husband, Joey Keasler, a northeast Arkansas native, are parents of two children, including a student-athlete at a residential liberal arts college.

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