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 www.hendrix.edu/giving/endowment.

“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