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Hendrix College President Ellis Arnold ’79 to Retire June 2023

Ellis Arnold 2017_250.jpg

Arnold’s leadership accomplished enrollment growth, record fundraising 

CONWAY, Ark. (May 17, 2022) — Hendrix College President W. Ellis Arnold III ’79 will retire from the presidency in June 2023. Arnold was elected the 12th President of Hendrix College by the Hendrix Board of Trustees in November 2019 and took office in December. 

“As someone whose life and career has been shaped by the values of Hendrix, I am honored for the opportunity to have played a role in advancing the College as a national leader in engaged learning and the liberal arts,” said Arnold. “It has been a privilege to work alongside our dedicated faculty and staff and talented students. Together, we capitalized on opportunities and confronted challenges with confidence and determination, emerging stronger and strategically positioned for the next decade.” 

Under Arnold’s leadership, Hendrix reinforced its position as one of the country’s top values in national liberal arts colleges through a Tuition Reset. The College has received a record number of applications for admission for two consecutive years and the largest growth in new student enrollment in seven years. Hendrix has experienced record endowment growth and fundraising success, including an historic $150 million campaign that will be completed later this year and the renovation of two historic student residence halls, Martin and Veasey Halls.

“The Hendrix community is deeply grateful to Ellis for his service to the College and the progress achieved during his tenure as President,” said Jo Ann Biggs ’80, chair of the Hendrix College Board of Trustees. “He has inspired the Hendrix community to reach new heights, and he has led with humble character, relentless focus on essential priorities, tireless optimism, and a deep love for the enduring reputation and traditions of Hendrix.

“Most importantly, the level of attention, care, commitment, and concern he has shown for the long-term success of Hendrix will inspire and serve this institution for many years to come,” said Biggs.

Arnold’s retirement next year will conclude a 33-year career in education leadership, including 17 years as a President.

A 1979 Hendrix graduate, Arnold received his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review, and practiced law in Little Rock from 1982 to 1990. In 1990, he was approached by then-Hendrix President Dr. Joe B. Hatcher to serve as Vice President for Development and College Relations and lead the College’s church relations, communications, fundraising, and marketing, in addition to serving as General Counsel. In 1996, Arnold was named President of Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn., and in 1997 was selected to attend the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents at Harvard University. He later served as President and Head of School of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., from 2004 until 2008, when he returned to Hendrix. He served the College as Acting President on two occasions, in addition to his role as Senior Executive Vice President, Dean of Advancement, and General Counsel. 

Arnold is the first Hendrix alumnus to serve as its President since Marshall T. Steel, Class of 1927, led the College from 1958 to 1969. Other alumni who have served as President are Stonewall Anderson (1902 to 1910), Class of 1900; and John H. Reynolds (1913 to 1945), Class of 1893. In addition, Matt L. Ellis (1945 to 1958) was part of the Class of 1921 at Henderson-Brown College, which merged with Hendrix College in 1929.

Arnold is married to Kim Speak Arnold ’82, and they have two daughters: Laura Arnold Montgomery, Rhodes College Class of ’07, and Dr. Grace Arnold, Hendrix College Class of ’13.

A national presidential search will begin at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year.

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