Rex Horne Named AICU President

Dr. Rex Horne, who has served as president of Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia since 2006, has been named as the new president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Dr. Don Weatherman, the president of Lyon College at Batesville and the chairman of the AICU executive committee.

Horne will replace Rex Nelson, who has served as the AICU president since January 2011. Nelson recently 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 assets of $7.8 billion and operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee.

“Rex Horne is a graduate of one of our Arkansas independent colleges and the president of another,” Weatherman said. “There couldn’t be a better background for the next 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 is 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 has significantly enhanced and expanded campus facilities.

“I’m 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.

AICU represents the state’s 11 accredited private institutions of higher education. It operates from offices in North Little Rock, specializing in governmental affairs and public affairs for private higher education.

Members of AICU are Arkansas Baptist College at Little Rock, Central Baptist College at Conway, Crowley’s Ridge College at Paragould, Harding University at Searcy, Hendrix College at Conway, John Brown University at Siloam Springs, Lyon College at Batesville, Ouachita Baptist University at Arkadelphia, Philander Smith College at Little Rock, the University of the Ozarks at Clarksville and Williams Baptist College at Walnut Ridge.

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 11 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. Horne will end his tenure as Ouachita’s president and begin his new duties at AICU this summer.