News Center

Coulter Named Full-Time Director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation

Coulter, Hope - 20101007 - 12390196CONWAY, Ark. (March 28, 2016) – Hope Norman Coulter has been named full-time Director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language at Hendrix College.

A poet and writer, Coulter has taught creative writing at Hendrix since 1993. She was named interim Hendrix-Murphy director in 2013.

Board member Martha Murphy, whose father Charles Murphy Sr. created the program to honor his mother Bertie Wilson Murphy and her love of literature and language, said Coulter represents “the past, present, and future of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation.”

“Hope has demonstrated and exhibited every trait we hoped to get in doing a national search,” said Murphy. “She’s a brilliant administrator and works really well with faculty, staff, students and the new administration at Hendrix. She is extremely talented at creative collaboration and never loses sight of all of the tiny pieces.”

After three decades at Hendrix, the program is enjoying a “real renaissance and lovely new era” under Coulter’s leadership, Murphy said.

“I’m thrilled to be named the permanent director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation,” said Coulter. “It’s a privilege to be part of a foundation that has such a long-standing, positive reputation.”

“Hendrix-Murphy has a simple mission: to enhance and enrich literature and language at Hendrix College,” she said. “We do this through support for everything from language houses to creative writing competitions to study abroad in literature and language. We send students out into the world to have great literary and language-immersive experiences, which enrich campus life when they’re shared upon return. At the same time we bring the best of the literary world to Hendrix for the entire college, along with public audiences throughout central Arkansas, to enjoy.”

“I often run into Hendrix alums who reminisce about their experiences on past Hendrix-Murphy trips and share anecdotes about famous writers who came to campus,” said Coulter, noting that Hendrix-Murphy’s distinguished visitors have included a Nobel Prize winner, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners, 10 National Book Award winners, and many more. “These encounters remind me of the profound influence of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation. Our programming is the essence of a liberal education. In the lives of our graduates, it reverberates on and on.”

“As a longtime member of the English Department, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact of our programming,” she said. “For students to study a book and then get to meet and talk to the author in a relaxed, intimate setting is a highlight they’ll always remember. Reading original poems aloud to an audience of peers – seeing Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre – immersing yourself in a foreign culture and speaking that language for weeks on end—these are life-changing experiences.”

At the center of all this broad activity is the new Murphy Scholars Program, Coulter said.

This optional program allows up to 30 students per class year from all majors to pursue a deeper, more focused exploration of literature and language with additional, structured support, from sophomore through senior year. 

The Murphy Scholars in Literature and Language take Oxford-style tutorials and carry out projects in research, study-travel, and service relating to literature or language. They graduate with distinction in literature and language, credentials they’ll carry forward into professional life and beyond.  Meanwhile, they enjoy being part of a community of scholars here on campus, sharing questions and discoveries in the world of writing, reading, books, theatre, and foreign languages.

“Through the Murphy Scholars Program and related activity, Hendrix-Murphy is making an impact on generations of students while elevating Hendrix in the national spotlight,” she said. “The Hendrix-Murphy Foundation, with its focus on literature and language, its careful linkage to the academic curriculum, and its generous endowment, is unique. Our programs have a great track record of enhancing literature and language studies at Hendrix for nearly 40 years and now, with the launch of the Murphy Scholars Program in 2015, we have a terrific new core to our work.”

About Hope Norman Coulter

A native of New Orleans, she spent her early years in Little Rock. Her father, Tom Norman, was chair of the pathology department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and her mother was active in community causes, including the Women’s Emergency Committee to reopen the Little Rock schools. In 1966, the family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where she attended public schools. She earned her AB at Harvard University and her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte, and has taught creative writing at Hendrix since 1993.

Coulter’s poetry collection, The Wheel of Light, was released in spring 2015 as part of the New Poets Series of BrickHouse Press. Her novels TheErrand of the Eye and Dry Bones were published in 1988 and 1990 by August House Publishers, and her children’s picture book, Uncle Chuck’s Truck, came out in 1993 from Bradbury Press. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including the 2014 Laman Library Writers Fellowship, two Pushcart nominations, Arkansas’s Porter Prize for Literary Excellence, and the Short Story Award of Louisiana Life magazine.

She lives in Little Rock with her husband, Mel White, a 1972 Hendrix graduate and a nature and travel writer. She has three grown children, is active at First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, and enjoys travel, birding, and swimming.

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit