Office of the President

Welcome from the President

PETERSEN-00231crop.jpgMessage from Dr. Karen K. Petersen

I am pleased to join the Hendrix family and honored to work alongside the faculty and staff as we change lives through excellence and innovation. Hendrix’s rich history as a leader in experiential learning has made it the best higher education institution in Arkansas and a top liberal arts college in America.

We are privileged to educate the young people upon whose shoulders the responsibility for our future rests, and I am dedicated to strengthening and preserving the residential liberal arts experience because it is the best preparation for life in a free society.

Our commitment to the liberal arts allows Hendrix to honor the traditions that brought us to this moment while adapting to the challenges of the 21st century, always staying centered on our life-changing mission to inspire students to lead lives of accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.

About President Petersen

Dr. Karen K. 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 joins 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.