Four New Programs Come to Lyon College

Competitions, community service, and creativity will characterize four new engaging options for Lyon College students. These programs align with Lyon’s mission—fostering critical, creative thought, service, ethical growth, and lifelong learning. Each program will also provide scholarship opportunities.


Enactus encourages students to adopt integrity, innovation, collaboration, and passion as values for life, helping students develop “a head for business and a heart for the world.”

Faculty sponsor Dr. Angela Buchanan says, “Enactus builds critical leadership and business skills by putting classroom theory into entrepreneurial action. The focus is social entrepreneurship, empowering community members to improve their lives through sustainable real world solutions.”

Any student with an entrepreneurial spirit will be able to join Enactus. Members will form teams that participate in needs assessment and data collection for community impact projects that might support such things as women’s economic empowerment, food availability, clean water supplies, or increased entrepreneurship. Students will connect with business leaders and compete for regional, national, and international titles.

The College’s chapter currently plans an internship workshop for employers in the Batesville area and the return of the pitch competition for budding entrepreneurs in the community, which will expand to include high school students. For more information, contact Dr. Angela Buchanan at

Rock Climbing

A new climbing club will allow students to enter climbing competitions through USA Climbing: Collegiate, an organization that sponsors competitions in bouldering, sport climbing, and speed climbing for students currently enrolled at a college or university.

Bouldering is performed on small rock formations or artificial rock walls, without the use of ropes or harnesses. Most climbers still use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry and provide a firmer grip, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls. Sport climbing is a form of rock climbing that relies on permanent anchors fixed to the rock. In contrast, traditional climbers must place removable protection as they climb. Speed climbing is done on rocks, walls and poles. Competition speed climbing, which takes place on an artificial standardized climbing wall, is the main form. For more information, contact Dr. Rodney Griffin at


eSports is a form of competition using mostly multiplayer video games. Millions worldwide now watch eSports on online streaming media platforms. The majority of viewers are between the ages of 18 and 34. Companies like Nintendo now sponsor tournaments which may last more than a month. Lyon eSports teams will hold on-campus tournaments and also participate in regional competitions.

While training for athletes in traditional sports is based almost entirely on honing their physical prowess, emphasizing strength, agility, endurance, and muscle memory, eSports athletes’ training relies much more on training the mind by studying strategies and new updates in their chosen games. For more information, contact Tommy Newton at and Dr. Rodney Griffin at

Lyon College Radio

With the call letters KILT, Lyon College Radio launches in fall 2018 in a sound-proofed room to support live broadcasts of solo or small band performances. Because KILT will be an online radio station, anyone in the United States can listen in.

Students will program, produce, and market the station with guidance from faculty sponsor Dr. Radek Szulga. Students will decide how KILT will mix music with talk/news/features and sports. A regular rotation of current “college music” will be available alongside dedicated genre shows, featuring categories like gospel, bluegrass, reggae, classical, and more. Exact coverage will depend on student interest.

Szulga says, “We hope to be on air 24 hours although a good part—especially overnight—will be automated. We also very much want to focus on service to both the community and campus.” KILT will offer weekly features on campus organizations and events, producing spots and advertisements for bigger events.

Szulga also plans to involve the community by featuring local musicians, artists, and businesses. Some possibilities are a “what’s happening downtown” show as well as a buy/sell program that will take call-ins from people seeking or selling particular items. He will be contacting individuals in the community and town organizations to gather ideas and expects this kind of programming to enhance Lyon’s connection with Batesville and the surrounding area. For more information, contact Dr. Radek Szulga at

These four new programs are joining Lyon’s programs added last year, archery, shooting, dance and cheer, disc golf, and cycling. For more information about archery, contact Dr. Rodney Griffin at, and for shooting, please contact Dalton Lamons at For dance and cheer, contact Kristen McMullin at For disc golf, contact Austin Smith at And for cycling, contact Dr. Rodney Griffin at

Lyon College Joins Disc Golf Association

This year, the Lyon College Disc Golf Club will compete in college matches as part of its joining the Southern Collegiate Disc Golf Association (SCDGA). The club has grown into a team of eight members, with Andrew Hyde, ’19, as the team captain.

Disc golf is part of the Lyon Education Adventure Program (LEAP)’s activities. Disc golf has become popular enough on campus that LEAP is needing to purchase more disc golf rental sets for students.

Director of Outdoor Education and Recreation Austin Smith is excited Lyon’s disc golf club will compete at the collegiate level and notes that the disc golf club has helped with disc golf’s popularity on campus.

“The club has promoted a disc golf culture on campus, and we have seen a huge growth in the number of students playing disc golf,” said Smith. “LEAP’s mission is to provide opportunities for students to have fun, learn, grow, and develop outdoor skills, increased leadership, and an appreciation for the environment. Through the creation of the Club and disc golf culture on campus our disc rentals and student participation have been much higher than past years.”

View the SCDGA schedule here.

Summer Experience Fair Showcases Lyon Students’ Success

On Tuesday, August 28 the Lyon College Career Center held the Summer Experience Fair (SEF), an event that Annette Castleberry, Lyon’s Director of Career Services, describes as a “casual, interactive forum where younger students learn from upperclassmen how they found summertime career-building opportunities.” Such opportunities include internships, research assistantships, academic travel and more.

Student presenter Melanie Beehler, who spent her summer doing research in Fayetteville, first arrived at Lyon knowing little about internships except that they were integral to success. Beehler hopes that her presentation at the SEF will “help other students know how to get [an internship] and what to expect from it.”

Patrick Mulick, Dean of Students, is also excited to see students helping each other, saying, “I think this is a valuable experience because students get to bring back to the college the experiences they had while they were away. Without an event like this, those experiences are often lost. They may learn something or may have gained an experience, but to get to share those experiences with the rest of the students perpetuates that cycle of more and more students going out and getting internships.”

Taylor Donnerson, a senior who spent her summer working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., found herself in this once-in-a-lifetime position when a member of her Lyon College family nominated her for the Arkansas Leadership Forum. This nomination set off a chain reaction that landed Donnerson in Washington D.C., where she worked alongside senators and advocated for Arkansas. Donnerson described her experience working with peers and mentors in Washington as being “like a wave.” The SEF strives to help Lyon students collaborate and, together, make waves of their own.

Donnerson won the 2018 Summer Experience Fair Scholarship prize of $1,000.

Lyon College Names New President

Dr. W. Joseph (Joey) King, next President of Lyon College

Dr. W. Joseph (Joey) King, next President of Lyon College

The Lyon College Board of Trustees has announced that Dr. W. Joseph (Joey) King will become the 18th president of Lyon. He will succeed Dr. Donald V. Weatherman, who is retiring. King and his family will move to Batesville next summer, and he will begin work July 1.

“The Board of Trustees is extremely excited about the election of Dr. Joey King as the next president of Lyon College. Dr. King’s broad experience, vision, and commitment to innovative liberal education will strengthen and further Lyon’s mission of shaping world changers. We welcome Dr. King to Lyon with open arms,” said board chairman Perry Wilson of Little Rock.

A Texas native, King holds a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from the University of Washington and a B.A. with honors in computer science and experimental psychology from Southwestern University (Georgetown, Texas).

King says, “I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as Lyon’s next president. From its founding on the frontier in 1872, Lyon has remained true to its mission. As it approaches its sesquicentennial, it has the potential to define and become a 21st century liberal arts college of the first order. I am excited to be a part of that process and look forward to getting started in July.”

King comes to Lyon from Emory & Henry College, where he is senior advisor to the president and interim executive director at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). He previously served as NITLE’s executive director, helping almost 140 liberal arts colleges integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology to become stronger institutions.

He has worked at Rice University, Southwestern University, University of Washington, and the Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business, where he was a finalist for Most Inspiring Professor.

He has also been a research scientist at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory at the University of Washington, the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute, and Hughes Research Laboratories. He has served as a consultant and advisor to Hanson Robotics, Microsoft, Interval Research, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Atari Games.

In addition, King has wide-ranging experience as an entrepreneur, co-founding Grifiti, a technology accessories provider; serving as president of Zama Networks, a quality of service network provider acquired by Mitsui & Co; working as chief scientist of F5 Networks, the industry leader in network traffic management; and serving as the managing director of Trinity River Ventures.

King also has extensive fundraising experience with both for-profit and non-profit organizations, having raised over $100 million in private capital for new ventures and successfully solicited over $25 million in gifts and grants for non-profits. In addition, as a trustee for Southwestern University, he served on the campaign cabinet that raised over $125 million.

Lyon President announces upcoming retirement

Donald and Lynn Weatherman

Donald and Lynn Weatherman

Dr. Donald V. Weatherman, president of Lyon College since 2009, announced his retirement during the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, October 23. He plans to leave at the end of the 2016-17 academic year and made the announcement now so that the College will have ample time to find his successor.

Weatherman originally came to Arkansas College in 1983 as the John D. Trimble, Sr., Professor of Political Philosophy but left in 1999 to become Vice President and Dean at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. In 2003, he became Executive Vice President and Dean of the College there.

When Dr. Walter Roettger retired from Lyon in 2009, Weatherman was the choice of the search committee seeking a replacement.

“Finding a new President for Lyon College was the most important task I faced after becoming Chairman of the Board in 2006,” said Ray LaCroix, President of LaCroix Optical in Batesville. “A Presidential Search Committee was appointed in the fall of 2008 and began a very thorough process of going through many applicant resumes and then interviewing the finalists. After reviewing the final candidate interviews, the committee voted unanimously in April 2009 to select Dr. Weatherman to be the 17th President of Lyon College.”

Bruce Alton, an executive search consultant working with the committee, noted that it was the only time in his career that a single candidate had been the top choice of every member of a search committee.

LaCroix further noted that Weatherman faced many challenges: budget deficits, a need to increase student enrollment, the complete destruction of Edwards Commons by fire, a Higher Learning Commission visit, and a shortage of student housing. “These issues, and many others,” he said, “have been addressed by the fine leadership of President Weatherman and the Board of Trustees.”

Perry Wilson, Chairman of the Lyon Board of Trustees, agreed with this assessment, stating that Weatherman became president “at one of the most crucial times in the College’s history. In that role, he refocused the College on its liberal arts mission, increased enrollment dramatically, built a solid infrastructure, initiated numerous innovative student programs, and elevated the profile of the College exponentially.”

According to Dr. Terrell Tebbetts, who was on the search committees both times Weatherman was hired, “President Weatherman has led Lyon in recovering from the loss of our Commons to fire, securing funding for the new, larger Edwards Commons. He has also led the College in adding football and men’s and women’s wrestling, spreading interest in the College, and building excitement on campus. Finally, he initiated a revision of Lyon’s Core Curriculum, giving it new purpose and organization. The result of his efforts has been impressive enrollment growth. He will be leaving Lyon a stronger college than he found it.”

“Lyon College is a much better institution as a result of President Weatherman’s foresight and leadership,” LaCroix affirmed. “He will be missed by everyone on the Lyon campus and in the Batesville community.” Wilson agreed, observing that Weatherman “will be missed by all who are associated with Lyon College, but he will leave behind a solid legacy that will serve as a model for the continued growth and success of Lyon College as a nationally-recognized liberal arts college.”

Weatherman holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University at Los Angeles and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. He taught at California State University, San Bernardino before moving with his wife, Lynn, to Idaho, where he taught for three years at the College of Idaho, a small, private liberal arts college, winning recognition for excellence in teaching.

“We discovered when we moved there that we like having seasons. Then we moved to Minnesota and discovered not all seasons are created equal,” Weatherman joked.
He taught in St. Paul at the College of St. Catherine, another liberal arts school, for five years, where he was recognized as Teacher of the Year. Seeking relief from the brutal winters, Weatherman said his in-laws, who planned to retire in Mountain Home, urged the couple to consider moving to Arkansas.

As an Arkansas College professor, he received the Lamar Williamson Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1986. Weatherman began the College’s philosophy and politics programs, established the faculty and staff assemblies, and co-chaired the first strategic planning effort.
In 1988, he spent six months in Washington, D.C., as one of the first Bradley Resident Scholars at the Heritage Foundation.

During his first employment at Lyon, Weatherman wrote a weekly column for the Batesville Daily Guard and then for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the author of a book, Endangered Guardians: Party Reform Within A Constitutional System, along with numerous professional articles, editorials, and reviews.

He has served as an elder and a church school teacher in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). He enjoys sailing and keeps a sailboat at Greers Ferry Lake, although he reports that “the students in the LEAP Program use it more than I do.”

Since his return to Lyon as president, he has served as a Board member of the TranSouth Athletic Conference, the Midwest Athletic Conference, and the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. He has also been a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the group’s Presidents’ Council.

In the community he is Co-chair of the Independence County Strategic Planning Committee and a member of the FutureFuel Chemical Company Community Advisory Panel, Chief Executive Officers Organization of Batesville, White River Health System Board of Directors, and the White River Medical Center Advisory Board.

He is also on the Board of the Philadelphia Society, a membership organization of scholars, educators, journalists, business and professional leaders, and clergy who explore pressing economic, political, cultural and other issues and provide analysis that influences the ongoing debate about the future of freedom in the U.S. and around the world.

Weatherman and his wife celebrated 42 years of marriage last April. They have two children, David and Andrea. David is an attorney and lives in Nashville with his wife, Kristine Fox, and their two children. Andrea is completing a Ph.D. in German at Vanderbilt University.

U.S. News and World Report ranks Lyon College in top tier

Lyon College is ranked in the top tier of the best national liberal arts colleges for the seventh year in a row, according to the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guidebook. Lyon also made the list of colleges whose students graduated with the least debt load.

According to U.S. News, these colleges emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in the arts and sciences. Lyon is only one of a few schools in Arkansas that fits the criteria.

“I am delighted once again to see that Lyon College is in the top tier of this ranking,” said Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman. “More importantly, we are among the colleges whose graduates have the least amount of debt when they leave college.”

U.S. News compiled a list of schools whose Class of 2012 graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads. The data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state, and local governments. Loans to parents are not included. Lyon made the list of 25 national liberal arts colleges whose students owed the least amount of money upon graduation.

According to U.S. News, the average amount of debt for Lyon’s 2012 graduates was $17,179. Lyon is the only Arkansas college or university on the “Least Debt” list.

Among the factors weighed in determining the Best Colleges rankings, the key measures of quality for national universities and national liberal arts colleges are: undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, high school counselor ratings, and graduation rate performance.

Lyon College also was named to U.S. News and World Report’s “Most Students in Fraternities” and “Most Students in Sororities” list with 44 percent of students in fraternities and 41 percent in sororities.

U.S. News also ranks national universities, which offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and Ph.D. degrees, and emphasize faculty research; regional universities, which offer undergraduate degrees and some master’s programs but few, if any, doctoral programs; and regional colleges, which focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50 percent of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.

The Princeton Review also recently recognized Lyon as a “Best Southeastern College” in its annual report for the tenth consecutive year and Lyon is included in’s “America’s Best Colleges” ranking. In August, Washington Monthly magazine’s annual College Guide also named Lyon one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country.

Kelley named Lyon College football coach

Kirk Kelley is a proven winner and knows how to build and lead successful collegiate athletic programs. Now the Lyon College Athletics Hall of Famer is making a return to the institution where he built its baseball team into a NAIA championship contender and will attempt to do the same with the Scots’ new football program.

Kelley, 48, will be introduced to the media and public today (Monday) in a ‘Meet-and-Greet’ event in James C. Becknell Gymnasium after being named as Lyon’s first football coach since 1951. The College is inviting the public to meet its new gridiron coach and enjoy free food and beverages beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Lyon College Director of Athletics Kevin Jenkins said that Kelley’s proven track record in his 25-year coaching career proves he’s the right man for the job.

“Coach Kelley built our baseball program from the ground up and knows how to get the job done,” Jenkins stated. “He’s ‘old school’ in the sense that he’ll work hard day after day and make the sure the job gets done right.

“He is an excellent planner and a fantastic recruiter. He is also well-know and well-liked in this area of the state – throughout the state for that matter. I have confidence he can not only get the local kids to come out and work hard, but he can also reach out regionally and nationally to get us the right kids to play football at Lyon, while they obtain a great education.”

Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman said it was crucial to find the right fit for the College, especially since the institution has such high academic standards.

“Coach Kelley will set the right tone for this program and instill the right priorities in his assistant coaches and players,” Dr. Weatherman noted. “He knows how to be successful as a coach of a demanding academic institution. He also knows the faculty at Lyon and what they expect from all their students.

“He is a proven program builder and a proven winner.”

Dr. Virginia Wray, Vice President for Academic Services and Dean of the Faculty at Lyon, echoed Dr. Weatherman’s feelings concerning the hiring of Kelley.

“I am delighted that Kirk is returning to Lyon,” Dr. Wray said. “He knows how to build a winning team. More importantly, he knows Lyon. He will bring us the right students, who are able to profit by and to contribute to Lyon’s educational program – students who also happen to be athletes.”

Kelley, a father of seven, is originally from the Oklahoma City area, but graduated from Sarasota Riverview High School in Florida. He played quarterback at the school, before moving on to St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kansas. He also played football at the NAIA institution, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1988. He earned his Master’s Degree in Education from Northwest Missouri State University in 1993.

“There are going to be tough challenges ahead, there’s no doubt,” Kelley said. “But I love a challenge and the kids (that we recruit) are going to be excited about starting something new.

“Every time you don’t have a product it’s a tough sell. Fortunately, Lyon College sells itself. (Lyon) provides an excellent education and has quality professors. It’s just a matter of overcoming the unknown of having a new program.”

Kelley has 19 years of collegiate head coaching experience under his belt. His longest tenure was at Lyon College, where he served as athletics director and head baseball coach from 1992-2009.

He faced the task of starting the Scots’ first baseball program in the 1993 season, eventually leading the squad to the school’s highest ranking of any team sport, earning a No. 4 ranking in 2005.

Kelley, who recorded 595 wins as a collegiate head coach, led three Lyon teams to appearances in the NAIA Regionals, finishing runner-up in 2002. He also coached over 50 all-conference players, five All-Americans and a Rawlings National Gold Glove winner.

His most recent coaching tenure was at University of Central Arkansas (Division I), where he served as associate head coach of the baseball program for three years (2011-13), leading the team to the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament championship. The team posted a school record 42-22 record this past season and finished in the NCAA Top 25 for the first time in the school’s history.

Kelley also served as athletic director and head baseball coach at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (NAIA) from 2009-11, winning the 2011 NCCAA National Championship and being named National Coach of the Year.

He said all of his past coaching experiences will be keys in his tenure at Lyon College.

“All three of my (heading coaching) jobs have been unique,” Kelley stated. “Oklahoma Wesleyan’s program was ‘down’ when we got there and we feel like we had to build a lot at UCA. The building process is getting the right fits, academically, athletically and socially. That the first key.

“Then we have to surround yourself with good people; those who have the same values and work approach as you do.”

Kelley says his contacts and networking he’s built up over the past 25 years will be crucial in pulling student-athletes from not only the local area, but the across the state and beyond.

Lyon College will be hiring two full-time coordinators in the next year to assist Kelley in the recruiting and planning for the Scots’ inaugural season. There will also be a number of part-time coaches hired. The College’s plan is to field approximately 65 players in the fall of 2014. Those players will be red-shirted, still leaving them with four years of eligibility remaining.

The Scots plan to field approximately 100 players in the fall of 2015 when they begin intercollegiate football competition for the first time since 1951.

The American Midwest Conference (AMC), which the nine other sports at Lyon College participate in, does not support football. Lyon is currently looking at options of joining a football conference, creating a dual membership. Jenkins said no choice has been made as to which conference the Scots will apply to join.

Kelley and his wife Marcia have seven children: Kristen, 24; Katherine, 24; Kraig, 21; Kendra, 15; Kortney, 13; Kade, 10; and Kyle, 6.


Poff receives Fulbright Scholarship

Lyon College senior Jon-Michael Poff of Batesville has received an English Teaching Assistantship from the Fulbright Program. Poff will be traveling to the region of Cantabria in Spain in September where he will teach English for one year.

The Fulbright Scholarship is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients of the grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Poff originally heard about the program last year from friend and Lyon alumna Maci Powers, ’12. Last spring and summer, Poff researched more about the award, and, in early June, he met with Dr. Alan McNamee, who taught under the Fulbright Fellowship in Poland. Dr. McNamee is the Frank and Marion Bradley Lyon Professor of Accounting at Lyon.

During a sabbatical from 2000 to 2001, McNamee was selected to serve as Visiting Senior Lecturer in Accounting at the Leon Kozminski Academy of Entrepreneurship and Management in Warsaw, Poland. He has served as the campus Fulbright Program advisor for Lyon since 2002.

Over the next few months, Poff began the application process; this process included writing a statement of grant purpose and a personal statement, as well as meeting with a committee of faculty and staff who interviewed him for the program.

McNamee explains, “A campus evaluation committee of representative faculty and staff is convened to review the application and to personally interview the candidate. This committee then completes an evaluation form, which becomes part of the candidate’s application dossier.”

“I cannot thank them enough for their help in the application process,” Poff says about the faculty and staff committee, which included McNamee, Dr. Terrell Tebbetts, Dr. Monica Rodriguez, and Dean of Students Bruce Johnston.

Tebbetts said the selection for a Fulbright Fellow includes records, faculty and staff recommendations, and a self-presentation. “I helped him edit his written materials, but as anyone who’s seen Jon-Michael’s writing would guess, they needed very little editing. And anyone who’s heard Jon-Michael speak knows his interview must have gone beautifully.”

Poff said that in mid-October he and McNamee sent off the application. It took three months to hear that he was a finalist and then another three months to hear he had received the award.

“I got the e-mail around 10:50 a.m. as I was leaving my psychology class. [Senior] Hannah Williams was walking about 20 feet in front of me, so I yelled out, started running, and told her the news as I gave her the biggest hug of her life,” Poff said.

“I was thrilled to learn of Jon-Michael’s award of the grant in Spain. Assignments to Europe are extremely competitive, and this speaks highly of Jon-Michael’s ability as recognized by the Fulbright Committee,” McNamee says. “He will represent the United States, Arkansas, and Lyon College extremely well.”

In Spain, Poff will be working as a teaching assistant at a secondary school, teaching English and several other subjects, and helping with the school’s Model U.N. programs. Cantabria is a region in northern Spain on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea (Bay of Biscay).

Poff is a Batesville native; he has served the Student Government Association as secretary, vice president, and president. He has also been a part of the residence life staff as both a resident assistant and resident director in Spragins House, and is a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, and numerous other campus organizations.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

Robert Bailey, ’07, received a Fulbright fellowship in 2007 to teach English in Andorra. In addition to Dr. McNamee, Dr. Martha Beck, professor of philosophy, was awarded a Fulbright grant in 2011 that allowed her to teach in Indonesia for six months.

Jon-Michael Poff 2

Lyon board freezes tuition, fees for next year

The Lyon College Board of Trustees has frozen tuition and fees for the 2013-14 academic year in response to changes in the Arkansas lottery scholarship. It took this unusual action because it recognizes the need to keep Lyon affordable and accessible to students and their families, college officials said.

“The combined effect of the down economy, the uncertainty of the future, as well as the reduction in state scholarships has the families of our students and prospective students concerned,” President Donald Weatherman explained. “Lyon College does not want to add to their worries by placing an additional burden on them. That is the main reason the Board of Trustees decided to freeze tuition, room and board, and all fees at this year’s rate for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.”

Three and a half years ago, when the lottery scholarship took effect, most schools in Arkansas raised their tuition to match the new funds. Now, the Arkansas Legislature is lowering the amount available to incoming students. To help those students and their families access a premier liberal arts education, Lyon College has responded by freezing tuition and fees.

“The last few years have been very difficult for many families seeking higher education,” said David Heringer, vice president for administration. “Unemployment rates are high, prices on everything from food to gas have gone up, incomes have gone down, the Arkansas Challenge (lottery) Scholarship has been adjusted down, and the federal budget — which determines Pell Grants and student loan interest rates — is uncertain.

Heringer continued: “Given the current climate in higher education and obstacles facing families seeking a chance for their children, higher education must be sensitive to students and families’ needs. Lyon especially considers cost because of the composition of our student body. Nearly 50 percent qualify for low-income Pell Grants and 70 percent come from Arkansas. These are students and families potentially taking a double-hit from recent changes to the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship and rising tuition. But we’re doing what we can to help families.”

Heringer said the board’s action means “absolutely zero increase in cost of attendance — tuition, room, board, or fees — for the following school year. We are committed to keeping higher education affordable for students, their families, and our community.”

According to The College Board, the average 2012-13 tuition increase was 4.2 percent at private colleges, and 4.8 percent at public universities. The 10-year historical rate of increase is approximately 6 percent.

Lyon College has long been recognized as one of higher education’s best bargains among private, selective liberal arts colleges. More than 95 percent of Lyon students receive some form of financial assistance.

Lyon’s tuition for 2012-13 is $23,370; room and board is $7,560; and the student activity fee is $224, making a total comprehensive fee of $31,154. With the board’s action, the same fees will apply for 2013-14.

Last fall, Lyon made the list of 26 national liberal arts colleges whose students owed the least amount of money upon graduation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

U.S. News compiled a list of schools whose Class of 2011 graduated with the heaviest and lightest debt loads. The data include loans taken out by students from their colleges, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state, and local governments.

According to U.S. News, 44 percent of Lyon graduates were debt free, while 56 percent owed money when they graduated. The average amount of debt for Lyon’s 2011 graduates was $17,092, U.S. News said. Lyon is the only Arkansas college or university on the “Least Debt” list.

Vestal hired as Lyon College VP for institutional advancement

Jon Vestal has been hired as the new vice president for institutional advancement at Lyon College.

Vestal will begin the position Feb. 3, 2013. His duties will include securing philanthropic gifts, aligning all institutional advancement activities with the college’s mission and strategic priorities and working with the public to improve the college’s profile.

He said he plans to work with trustees, alumni, and friends to exceed fundraising goals and strengthen connections throughout the college’s broad constituency. Vestal said he also hopes to carry the message of the college to expanded audiences both regionally and nationally.

Vestal is currently the director of development at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. Previous to his position at Missouri Baptist University, Vestal was the Division Director for Robert Half International.

Vestal received a bachelor’s of science degree in finance from the University of Central Missouri and his master’s in business administration from Missouri Baptist University.

“We all look forward to having Mr. Vestal join us at Lyon,” said Lyon College President Dr. Donald Weatherman. “He will add considerable energy and a fresh perspective to both the advancement and marketing efforts of the college.”

Vestal is a member of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Future Leadership Foundation Advisory Board, International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, Missouri Colleges Fund, St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association Higher Education Advisory Council and Sunset Hills Rotary Club. He is also a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Ellisville, Mo.

Vestal and his wife Maegan have two children, Mackenzie, 6, and Jackson, 2.

Vestal said he is looking forward to meeting the people who make Lyon what it is.

“I am excited to immerse myself into the rich culture and history of Lyon College, especially our Scottish heritage program,” he said.

“Lyon College has a heritage of success and strong reputation of academic excellence,” Vestal said. “I believe, under Dr. Weatherman’s leadership, the best days are ahead. I look forward to partnering with my staff and fellow cabinet members in further strategic advancements.”