seventh president remembered for shepherding growth
CONWAY, Ark. (June 28, 2023)—Former
Hendrix College President Dr. Roy B. Shilling Jr. passed away Saturday, June 24,
at age 92. Shilling served Hendrix from 1969 to 1981, the seventh person to lead
“Roy Shilling was one of the greatest national
leaders in higher education for over four decades,” said Hendrix President
Emeritus W. Ellis Arnold III. “He was a true visionary who impacted the lives
of countless students and was an amazing mentor to me and many others
throughout his career. He inspired those who worked beside him and his impact
upon Hendrix will be felt forever.”
A native of Oklahoma, Shilling held a Bachelor
of Arts degree from McMurry College in Texas, a Bachelor of Divinity degree
from Southern Methodist University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from
Indiana University. Before his arrival at Hendrix, Shilling had also served as
an assistant to the president of Tennessee Wesleyan College, the director of
planning and research at Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio, and the executive
vice president of Southwestern University in Texas. His graduate work had been
in higher education administration, making him the first professional
administrator to head the College. Shilling was the first president since A.C.
Millar in 1887 who had no previous connection with Hendrix.
The cultural and intellectual life of Hendrix
expanded under Shilling’s leadership. He guided the establishment of a series
of special academic programs, including the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs
in Literature and Language and the Marshall T. Steel Center for the Study of
Religion and Philosophy. In addition, three new buildings were completed during
his tenure: the Wilbur D. Mills Center for Social Sciences, the Mabee Activity
Center (since replaced by the Wellness & Athletics Center), and Cabe
Theatre. The market values of both the endowment and the physical plant
increased during his tenure. Dr. Shilling left Hendrix in 1981 to become
president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret Shilling;
two children, both Hendrix alumni: Roy B. Shilling III ’76 and Nancy Shilling
’79; and many other loved ones listed in the obituary below. Expressions of
sympathy may be shared here.
Memorial services will take place at both
Southwestern University and Hendrix College. The service at Hendrix will be
held Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 2 p.m., in Greene Chapel, with Bishop Laura Merrill
officiating. Shilling’s ashes will rest in the Shilling Memorial Garden
adjoining the chapel, and a reception will follow. The family requests that no
flowers be sent and instead invites you to make a gift to Hendrix College in memory of Dr. Shilling at www.hendrix.edu/makeagift.
The obituary that follows has been
provided by the Shilling family.
Roy B. Shilling, Jr., who served
19 years as Southwestern University’s 13th president, died June
24, 2023 in Austin, Texas.
During his tenure as president, Shilling led a
complete redesign of the Southwestern campus, including major renovations and
new construction involving 31 different buildings. He was also instrumental in dramatically increasing the university’s endowment from $36.6 million
to $341.6 million and in
increasing total university assets from $74 million to $574.6 million.
With the transformation of the campus and its
educational program under Shilling’s leadership, including the founding of a Phi Beta Kappa
Chapter, Southwestern was cited among
the nation’s highly
recognized liberal arts institutions and was increasingly invited to become
active in regional and national accreditation circles.
Prior to joining Southwestern Shilling served as
president of Hendrix College for 12 years. He also served as assistant
to the president of Tennessee
Wesleyan College and director of planning
and research at Baldwin-Wallace College, Ball State. Following his service at
Southwestern he served as interim president of his alma mater, McMurry
After retirement Shilling
assisted many institutions across the country
as a senior consultant with Academic Search, Inc., Washington,
D.C. In that role he identified and recruited senior administrative officers
for leadership in private colleges and universities. He also served as a
consultant to colleges and universities, focusing on enhancing the
effectiveness of presidential leadership and elevating the commitment and
support of the trustees.
Selected as one of the 100 most effective college
and university presidents in the country, Shilling served on the board of directors of the American
Council on Education and the National Association of Independent
Colleges and Universities. He also served on the Division III President’s Council
of the National Collegiate Athletic
Association and was a member of the Air
University Board of Visitors (USAF). He also served as a president, vice
president and secretary-treasurer for the Southern University Conference.
During his tenure at Hendrix College, Shilling
began his work in regional and national accreditation in higher education. He
was active as a consultant/evaluator and member in the North Central
Association of Schools and Colleges, where he also served on the board of
directors. He also served as vice chair and chair-elect of the Executive
Board of the Commission
on Institutions of Higher Education in the North
Central Association, and was a consultant to the
United States Department of Education. He also chaired the Rhodes Scholarship
Selection Committee for Arkansas and later served as chair of the Rhodes
committee for Texas.
Shilling served as vice president and president
of the University Senate of The United Methodist Church, which is charged
with accrediting United Methodist-related colleges
and universities. As one of the incorporators of the
National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, he
also served on its board of directors. He was also a member of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The
United Methodist Church and a member of the National
Commission on United Methodist Higher Education.
Shilling’s public service
included chair of the Arkansas
Arts and Humanities Council, member of the board of directors of the Arkansas
Children’s Hospital, member of the board of directors of the Commercial
National Bank in Little Rock, member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO
Arkansas). He was also a member of the Austin Area Research Organization, the
board of directors of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Philosophical Society
of Texas, and the board of directors
for Republic Bank-Austin.
Throughout his career in higher education, he
earned a reputation for his leadership in the American college presidency, his expertise in positioning institutions of higher learning, and for his knowledge
and effectiveness in institutional planning,
governance, and fundraising. Early in his career,
Shilling served on the faculty and presented numerous papers on the financing,
management, and governance of colleges and universities at workshops and institutes at Indiana
University, Oklahoma University, the University of Maryland, Duke University,
and the University of Notre Dame.
Shilling earned a bachelor of arts degree from McMurry
University, a bachelor
of divinity degree from Southern Methodist University
and a master’s degree from Indiana University, where he also earned his Ph.D.
McMurry University named Shilling a Distinguished Alumnus, and subsequently
conferred an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. SMU’s Perkins School of
Theology also named him a Distinguished Alumnus. Shilling served in the U.S.
Army in the 101st Airborne at Camp Breckenridge (KY) in 1952-53 and
with the 3rd Infantry at Ft. McNair (Washington, D.C.) in 1953-54.
Dr. Shilling was preceded in death by his parents
Roy Bryant Shilling and Lila Prestage Shilling (College Station, TX); sister
Beth Van Cleave and husband, Horace “Buddy”; brother-in-law Herschel Riddle and
wife, Ann (Houston, TX); sister-in law Kathryn Riddle Beard and husband, James
(Bedford, TX); nephews, Jerry and Terry Riddle (Houston, TX). He is survived by
his loving wife of 70 years, Margaret Riddle Shilling (Austin, TX); daughter
Nancy Shilling (Lakeway, TX); son, Roy B. Shilling III and wife Laurie (Las
Vegas, NV); sister Sue Gibbs and brother-in-law John (Victoria, TX); nieces
Diana Van Cleave Buroughs (Cimarron, KS), Jan Beard Evans (Dallas, TX), Judy
Beard Foreman (Colleyville, TX); and nephews John David Gibbs (Victoria, TX),
Jimmy Gibbs (New Braunfels, TX), Scott Van Cleave (Louisville, KY), and James
Beard Jr. (Hurst, TX).
A memorial service
is scheduled for Saturday, July 1 at 2 p.m. in the Lois Perkins
Chapel on the Southwestern University campus. A
reception in the Caldwell Carvey Foyers will follow.
Another service will be held at Hendrix
College on July 8 at 2 p.m. in Greene Chapel. He will
be interred there in the Shilling Memorial Garden.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites
you to make a gift to Hendrix College in memory of Dr. Roy B. Shilling, Jr. at www.hendrix.edu/makeagift.