Dr. Rex Horne, who served as president of Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia for nine years, became the president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities in July 2015.
Horne replaced Rex Nelson, who had served as the AICU president since January 2011. Nelson was named to the new position of director of corporate communications for Simmons First National Corp. Simmons, which is based at Pine Bluff, is a financial holding company with operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.
“Rex Horne is a graduate of one of our Arkansas independent colleges and was the president of another,” said Don Weatherman, the president of Lyon College and the AICU chairman. “There couldn’t be a better background for the president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities. Dr. Horne is respected throughout the state. I was concerned about the task of replacing Rex Nelson, who served our organization effectively and professionally. I’m delighted we were able to find an educator who is also effective, professional and respected in every region of Arkansas.”
Horne was the 15th president in the history of Ouachita, which was founded in 1886. Prior to becoming Ouachita’s president, he was the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church at Little Rock for 16 years. Prior to becoming pastor at Immanuel, Horne served as a pastor in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. He was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention from 1995-97.
Horne grew up at Camden. He completed his freshman year at Ouachita before finishing his bachelor’s degree at Arkansas College (now Lyon). He later earned a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth and a doctor of ministry degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was a weekly columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for 10 years and is the author of three books. Under Horne’s leadership, Ouachita significantly enhanced and expanded campus facilities.
“I was honored to have my friends, the presidents of Arkansas’ private colleges and universities, invite me to be the president of AICU,” Horne said. “I hope my experience and relationships will serve these institutions and our state well.”
Horne and his wife, Becky, are the parents of four grown children. The Hornes have been married since 1972.
What’s now AICU was founded in the spring of 1954. Charter members of what was then known as the Arkansas Foundation of Associated Colleges were Arkansas College (now Lyon College), College of the Ozarks (now a university), Harding College (now a university), Hendrix College, John Brown University, Ouachita Baptist College (now a university) and Southern Baptist College (now Williams Baptist College).
During the organization’s more than six decades of existence, more than $20 million has been raised and distributed to member institutions. In the early years, the funds distributed were unrestricted and used for a variety of purposes. Now, all money raised is used for student scholarships.
AICU is governed by a board of trustees consisting of the 10 presidents of the member institutions and a group of more than 20 business and civic leaders from across the state. The organization’s executive director now carries the title of president.