John Brown University announced this week Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be the inaugural speaker for the new Barnett Civic Leadership Speaker Series. The series, focusing on Christian civic leadership, is funded by an endowment with a lead gift from the Barnett family.
The series will bring prominent lecturers to address topics related to the intersection of faith and public service. Gov. Hutchinson will speak on April 7 at 10:30 a.m. at JBU’s Cathedral of the Ozarks.
The Ray and Laurine Barnett Civic Leadership Speaker Series is named for Ray Barnett, a World War II veteran, minister and educator, and Laurine Barnett, lifelong volunteer for many Christian and political causes. Mr. Barnett, who died in February 2015 at the age of 95, taught at JBU for nine years. He and Mrs. Barnett, were married for 74 years and together have seven children, 19 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Barnett also worked for 10 years as a salesman for DaySpring Greeting Cards in Siloam Springs, where the couple made their home for the last 50 years.
“Our family believes that allowing young students to hear firsthand from the civic
leaders who are living their faith in public service will inspire future leaders to consider public service,” said Jonathan Barnett, former state representative and highway commissioner. Jonathan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Barnett, graduated from JBU in 1977.
The six-figure endowment, including family gifts, was established by donations from more than 20 organizations and individuals.
“We are deeply grateful for the generous gifts from the Barnett family and others in honor of Ray and Laurine,” said Dr. Chip Pollard, JBU president. “We look forward to hearing from Christian leaders who are having a positive local and global impact.”
JBU currently plans on bringing a new speaker for the Barnett Series once every academic year.
John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Ranked No. 2 among Southern regional colleges by U.S. News, JBU enrolls more than 2,700 students from 42 states and 39 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, degree completion and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 50 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.