Philander Smith College 2020 graduate, Maria Meneses-Ramos in inaugural Public Health program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Philander Smith College Class of 2020 graduate, Maria Meneses-Ramos is in the inaugural Medical Scholars in Public Health program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Meneses-Ramos, who was an honors Biology Pre-Med major, participated in the MedTrack program at PSC.

The MedTrack program is a partnership between UAMS, Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The partnership is aimed at helping more minority students enter the medical field. It provides a combination of mentoring, tutoring and assistance navigating the application process for medical school and other health care career opportunities.

According to Meneses-Ramos, she plans to go to medical school to become a doctor. Her overall mission is to help Arkansas to have a better quality of life.

She said about her undergraduate experience, “Philander Smith College is an institution that stands for what they say they are. They truly are there to help and they stand for social justice.”

Her admission into the Medical Scholars in Public Health program is a first step. The program will serve as an educational bridge to a master’s degree in public health and/or a medical degree for Arkansas residents who come from socially, economically or geographically disadvantaged backgrounds and who have faced challenges in the medical school admissions process.

Harding University launches new dietetics program, first of its kind in Arkansas

The Harding University College of Sciences has launched a Master of Science in applied dietetics practice to commence on August 23. This program is the first of its kind in Arkansas and is one of the few programs in the country that is competency-based and allows students to complete their courses and required supervised learning experiences wherever they are located. Students will be able to apply their knowledge and skills directly within their communities in a variety of professional work settings.

“This is the perfect place to start your journey to becoming a registered dietitian nutritionist, by providing not only a quality education but also an experience that is Christ-centered and mission-focused,”  Sarah Oropeza, instructor and director of didactic program in dietetics, said.

The Harding University Master of Science in applied dietetics practice is a 52-credit program completed over five semesters with embedded didactic and experiential components. An accelerated B.S./M.S. pathway is also available for qualified undergraduate students. The 5-year accelerated pathway overlaps the fourth year of the bachelor’s degree with the first year of the master’s degree, resulting in three years of undergraduate-level study and two years of graduate-level study in the program. In addition to core nutrition and dietetics courses, specialty courses focus on sustainability, cultural nutrition care, nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, grant writing and healthcare administration. It is a demonstration program that uses the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards for Graduate Degree Programs in Nutrition and Dietetics developed by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).

Upon successful completion, graduates will fulfill all requirements of the Commission on Dietetic Registration and be eligible to take the CDR Registration Examination for Dietitians. No Didactic Program in Dietetics Verification Statement or prior degree in nutrition or dietetics is required to apply.

The mission of the Master of Science in applied dietetics practice program at Harding University is to provide a challenging educational experience consistent with Christian ideals that will prepare competent, entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists for evidence-based practice in all communities. For more information visit

Hendrix Politics Professor Emeritus Honored with Odyssey Endowment

 Friends and former students have established an endowment in honor of Hendrix College politics professor emeritus Dr. Jay Barth ’87. 

The Dr. Jay Barth Odyssey Endowment will support student engaged learning experiences that highlight the values of public service and community, helping students live the values of public service and community, which Dr. Barth proudly displayed every day during his career at Hendrix. 

“Beyond his reputation for excellence in the classroom and his passion for teaching, Jay is synonymous with engaged citizenship and engaged learning at Hendrix,” said President Ellis Arnold. “I am excited that there will be a lasting tribute to his legacy, and we are grateful to the donors who made this possible.”

Barth, who joined the Department of Politics at Hendrix in 1994 after completing his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, retired in 2020 as the M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Professor of Politics. He is currently the inaugural Chief Education Officer for the City of Little Rock, coordinating the City’s work to support education from birth through higher education in Little Rock. 

At Hendrix, Barth championed programs that enhanced interdisciplinarity and engaged learning. He led the task force that envisioned the Odyssey Program, which he directed for three years, and he collaborated with the team of faculty that developed and implemented The Engaged Citizen first-semester course.

Former Barth student Peter Butler ’17, an interdisciplinary politics, economics, and philosophy major from Naperville, Illinois, was one of the lead organizers of the effort to create the Barth Odyssey Endowment.  

“Jay recognized my passion for politics and guided me as I began to really figure out where I wanted to go in life to contribute to the greater good,” said Butler, who currently works for Minnesota Management and Budget. “He exemplified what it meant to be an engaged citizen. Whether it was knocking on doors for political campaigns, discussing elections after class, or working on a policy report, I wouldn’t have been in those positions without Jay’s selfless support for his students and every citizen of Arkansas.”

The College received gifts from 127 donors to create the endowment. To contribute to endowed funds and scholarships, visit

“It’s a testament to Jay’s tireless work as a teacher, scholar, and mentor that so many people gave to a fund in his honor,” said Nigel Halliday ’16, a politics major from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. Now an attorney living in North Bergen, New Jersey, Halliday is one of the fund’s co-organizers. “I’m happy that the fund will help further Jay’s legacy at Hendrix by supporting students committed to public service.”

Other Highlights for Dr. Jay Barth

  • 2007 Arkansas Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education
  • 2014 Southern Political Science Association’s Diane Blair Award for Outstanding Achievement in Politics and Government
  • 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award from the Arkansas Political Science Association
  • 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of State Boards of Education
  • 2012 to 2019 Arkansas State Board of Education member, chairing that body for two years
  • Five-time recipient of the Hendrix senior class’s Faculty Appreciation Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has shown “excellence in instruction and concern for the welfare of Hendrix students”
  • Chaired the Boards of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, National Association of State Boards of Education, Just Communities of Arkansas, the ACLU of Arkansas, the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Pulaski County, and was a 12-year member of the board of the National ACLU 
  • Presently serves as Vice-Chair of the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation and as a member of the board of the ACLU of Arkansas and Planned Parenthood Great Plains

Hendrix College Regional Director of Admission Named to Colleges That Change Lives Board of Directors

Beverly Henry Wheeler, regional director of admission for Hendrix College, is one of four college admission professionals named to the 2021-2024 class of the board of directors for Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL), a nonprofit organization that is a leading advocate on the subject of higher education access and college choice. Wheeler will begin her term on the Board in September, immediately following the CTCL Members’ Meeting at the National Association for College Admission Counseling conference.

Beverly Henry Wheeler

A native of Palestine, Texas, Wheeler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Arts in Developmental and Adult Education from Texas State University. She has worked in college recruiting for 35 years, beginning her work covering the state of Texas for Hendrix in 2016. She has served as president of both the Texas Association for College Admission Counseling (TACAC) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling organization (NACAC). She received the TACAC Founder’s Award in 2016, and in 2018 received the TACAC Honorary Lifetime Member Award in recognition of her devotion to students and exemplary contributions to the admissions profession. Her expertise includes an extensive knowledge of enrollment management, relationship building and professional ethics, and she has traveled across the country speaking on various topics related to the college admission process.

“Beverly’s impressive work over the years makes her an excellent choice for helping CTCL advance its mission,” said Ryan Cassell, vice president of enrollment and dean of admission at Hendrix. “We are proud to have her on the Hendrix team, and we’re grateful that she will continue to share her expertise with us and with CTCL in the coming years. Her willingness to serve in this way makes the College’s affiliation with CTCL even stronger.”

Hendrix has been associated with the Colleges That Change Lives organization since its inception in 1998, after being named one of the 40 “Colleges that Change Lives” in the 1996 Loren Pope book by that name.

Philander Smith’s Roderick Smothers Jr., Named President of Gulf Coast Athletic Conference

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce the election of Roderick Smothers Jr., Athletic Director at Philander Smith College, as the President of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. As president, Smothers will supervise the organization’s affairs, constantly review existing activities, and recommend improvements to advance the conference’s mission.

“There’s work to be done and it is an awesome responsibility and opportunity to be named conference president. We have a great group of colleagues and I look forward to building a strong and productive working relationship with my peers,” Smothers said.

Smothers was named Interim Athletic Director at Philander Smith College in August 2020. PSC has garnered many successes in athletics during his tenure, including the 2020 Gulf Coast Conference Championship in Men’s Cross-Country Track. The Vidalia, Louisiana, native earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Langston University in Oklahoma and a Master’s Degree in Sports Management from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico.

Smothers added, “My goals are to help expand the conference and to strengthen our service to member schools.”

The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference announced that Tougaloo College’s Keith Barnes and Larry Glover from Fisk University will join Smothers on the leadership team.

Barnes, Athletic Director and Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Tougaloo College, will be the GCAC’s representative on the National Administrative Council. Glover, Athletic Director for the conference’s newest member, Fisk University, will serve as the chair of the Council of Athletic Directors.

For more information, visit

Lyon junior accepted into Irish American Scholars program

Lyon College junior Hailey Williams, of Memphis, Tenn., has been accepted into the Irish American Scholars program.

She will attend Ulster University in Northern Ireland for five months in spring 2022. This will be Williams’ first time traveling outside of the United States.

“I just applied for my passport in April and haven’t even gotten that back,” she said, laughing. “Once I release my passport to the program, I will get more details.”

She said Ulster University has locations in both Belfast and Jordanstown, and the Irish American Scholars program will let her know which branch she will be attending soon.

Williams found out about the program when she received an email during the COVID-19 pandemic. She had been fearing that travel abroad wouldn’t be an option before she graduated, especially since she is going to graduate a semester early.

Her chances to study abroad were getting smaller, so she decided to jump on the opportunity.

“I knew I wanted to travel abroad, especially after visiting Lyon and hearing them talk about the Nichols Trips.”

Williams continued, “People have asked ‘Why Ireland?’ I wasn’t necessarily choosing Ireland. I just saw an opportunity to study abroad and took it.”

After learning she was accepted into the program, she began researching Northern Ireland on TikTok and finding hidden gems to go visit.

“I don’t know much about the culture, so I’ll have to research as much as I can before I go.”

Her ultimate goal is to get the most out of the coursework that she can while making friends and exploring the sights.

“This will be the first semester I haven’t worked in college,” Williams said. “I’ll actually have the opportunity to live a little bit and go wherever I want.”

She is currently saving up money for the trip. Lyon College is providing financial assistance, Williams said, and she will be working during the summer and the fall to raise funds for her travels.

“I play soccer, so it’s going to be a lot harder during the fall because that’s our season.”

While the expenses are stressful, Williams believes the experience will be worth it.

“I’d rather go and hate it than to not go and always wonder how it would have been,” she said.

Williams concluded, “I’ve already talked about moving out of the country after graduation. This is a good way to do trial and error to see how I like being on my own in a new country.”

Social Justice Institute at Philander Smith College Receives $25K Grant from Building Black Communities Fund

Philander Smith College is pleased to announce that the Arkansas Community Foundation and the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative have awarded $25,000 to the institution’s Social Justice Institute.

“We are excited to be named a recipient of the Building Black Communities Fund and look forward to this new funding being used to support our programs and initiatives that play an important role in impacting the greater Little Rock community,” said Christopher L. Harvey, Interim Associate Director, Social Justice Institute Philander Smith College.

According to Heather Larkin, President and CEO of Arkansas Community Foundation, Facebook, Inc. provided the funding which went to 40 Black-led and Black-serving nonprofit organizations in Central Arkansas. 

In collaboration with Auburn Theological Seminary and Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the College reimagined and reinvigorated the SJI with a vision for global impact. Themed “Justice Reimagined,” the Institute seeks to embrace and catalyze work in social justice across multiple domains: education, health, environment, community, economics, politics, identity, civil, criminal, religious, racial, gender, age.

To learn more about the SJI, please visit

Lyon welcomes Randy Peterson as new director of institutional research

Lyon College welcomed Randy Peterson as the new director of institutional research this May.

Peterson majored in English at Hendrix College and earned his master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I also completed everything but the thesis for a master’s degree in technical and expository writing at UALR.”

He continued, laughing, “My professional life always seemed to get in the way of writing that thesis!”

He is originally from Salem, Ark., in Fulton County.

“I grew up in this area,” Peterson said. “I have many great memories of coming to this campus for academic competitions and events in high school.”

He has always loved Batesville and believes institutions like Lyon play an important role in “improving the quality of life in the region” and opening doors for students.

“I’m very proud to be a part of that.”

Peterson said institutional research is about collecting, synthesizing and analyzing institutional data to help Lyon College’s leadership make informed decisions. The job is multifaceted- part information systems management, part social science research, part business intelligence and part technical writing.

“I’m fortunate to inherit a rich collection of resources from my predecessor,” he said. “I plan to build on what has already been done, standardize and organize the resources we already have and make them more accessible and usable to the Lyon community.”

Peterson and his wife, Sammi, moved to Batesville in May with their dog, Lilly, and their cat, Joel. 

His second vocation is teaching writing. Over the past 20 years, he has taught composition and professional writing at UALR, the University of the Ozarks and Hendrix College.

In his spare time, he has been getting into amateur astronomy and recently acquired a vintage late 1970s Celestron C5 telescope.

“When I was a teenager, I was heavily into amateur astronomy, and I’ve been trying to get back into it,” Peterson said. “I’m looking forward to trying some photography with the telescope.”

Before coming to Lyon, Peterson worked as the institutional research director at Hendrix College for five years. He previously worked at Kentucky Wesleyan University for a few years and the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville for seven years.

Hendrix College Names Four New Board of Trustees Members

Four new members have been named to the Hendrix College Board of Trustees: Dr. John C. Byrd ’87, Latoya M. Goree ’01, Eric Jackson ’72, and Dr. Marquita Norman ’97. These individuals will begin their six-year terms at the Board’s October meeting.

“This group of new Trustees exemplifies the excellence that our graduates are capable of achieving, and a commitment to advancing our mission,” said Hendrix College President Ellis Arnold III ’79. “I am delighted that John, Latoya, Eric, and Marquita are serving our alma mater in such an important way, and I am excited about the new ways they will use their talents and expertise to serve Hendrix and its students.” 

Byrd, who majored in chemistry at Hendrix, is the Gordon and Helen Hughes Taylor Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He holds membership in the American Society of Hematology, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research, and the American College of Physicians. At a national level, he co-chairs the Leukemia Committee and Leukemia Correlative Science Committee in the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and is a member of the NCI Leukemia Steering Committee. His many honors include being named a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Stohlman Scholar, a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science, receiving The Ohio State University Distinguished Scholar Award, recognition among the Top 10 Clinical Research Achievements for 2014 in the U.S., and the Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research. He also has received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, as well as a Hendrix Odyssey Medal for Research in 2015. 

Goree, a history major while at Hendrix, now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she works for Clarkson Construction as executive director and ombudsman of the KCI Terminal Workforce Enhancement Programs – Edgemoor & Clark Weitz Clarkson joint venture. In that role she manages the Terminal Workforce Enhancement Programs supporting the development of the new Kansas City International Airport, focusing on minority businesses’ involvement in the new airport’s construction. As an educator before transitioning to a career in the private sector, she was founder and executive director of Little Rock Preparatory Academy and the Ewing Marion Kauffman School in Kansas City, Missouri, and continues serving as an educational consultant. Before her current position she was executive director of the Center for Economic Education and Office of Financial Literacy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and interim executive director of the Missouri Council on Economic Education.

Jackson, who majored in business and economics at Hendrix, is senior vice president and a member of the board of directors for Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. He lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he has served on the Hot Springs and state chambers of commerce and was on the Governor’s Task Force on Hot Springs National Park, as well as the Downtown Hot Springs Revitalization and Garland County Industrial Development committees. He also serves on the board and executive committee for CHI St. Vincent of Arkansas. Jackson has received numerous honors for his volunteerism and his work in economic development, including the Arkansas Tourism Person of the Year; the Boy Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award; the Governor’s Volunteer Excellence Award; and the Desoto Award for lifetime contribution to economic development in Hot Springs.

Norman, who graduated from Hendrix as a chemistry major with a minor in gender studies, is an associate professor of emergency medicine and assistant dean for student inclusion and diversity at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, and is affiliated with the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity. She attended the University of Kansas School of Medicine, completed her internship at Howard University, and residency training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 2020 she received the Michigan Emergency Medicine Alumni Award for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Norman worked at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) from 2008-2018 and completed her MBA from the Collat School of Business at UAB. In 2019 she transitioned to her current roles and now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is a member of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), National Medical Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, and American Academy of Emergency Medicine. She also serves as immediate past president of the SAEM Academy for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Medicine (ADIEM) and chairs the SAEM Equity and Inclusion Committee. Her professional and community interests include communication skills; diversity, equity and inclusion; education, pre-health education, K-16 healthcare pathways, and healthcare disparities.

“It is a tremendous responsibility, as well as an honor and a privilege, to lead an institution like Hendrix College in this day and time in American higher education,” said Jo Ann Biggs ’80, chair of the Board of Trustees. “We look forward to the leadership and perspective that our new board members will bring to the College.”