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Ouachita pres. to head Ark. independent colleges

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP) — Rex Horne Jr., president of Ouachita Baptist University since 2006, has announced his resignation effective this summer in order to serve as president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities.

At AICU, Horne succeeds Ouachita alumnus Rex Nelson, who has been named director of corporate communications for Simmons First National Corp.

“My nine-plus years at Ouachita have been very rewarding,” Horne said of the Arkadelphia, Ark.-based university. “I have been most impressed by the work performed by our faculty and staff. The sense of calling and commitment to duty has been evident on the campus. Our students are difference makers. I will treasure the time the Lord allowed me to serve here. Our prayers, continued interest and desire to help remain strong.”

During his tenure as Ouachita’s 15th president, Horne has led efforts to strengthen the university’s financial standing, including launching the Defining the Difference capital campaign. Other achievements include providing leadership for several improvements to the physical campus, including the Student Village residence halls, dedicated in 2009, and Cliff Harris Stadium, dedicated in 2014. He presided over Ouachita’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2011.

Horne was known for challenging students, faculty and staff to make an impact in their personal lives, careers and ministry opportunities. “You are difference makers,” he reminded Ouachita’s 2015 graduating class. “Make this your lifelong passion and pursuit.”

Concerning his new role, Horne said, “I have known the presidents of our private colleges and universities as friends. I now have the opportunity to assist them personally and represent them corporately before the public and our legislature. The schools share a foundation of faith. I pray this time will prove beneficial for these friends and their institutions.”

Don Weatherman, chairman of the AICU executive committee and president of Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., noted that as a graduate of Lyon and president of Ouachita, Horne is well qualified to serve Arkansas independent colleges.

“There couldn’t be a better background for the next president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges & Universities,” Weatherman said. “Dr. Horne is respected throughout the state.

“I was concerned about the task of replacing Rex Nelson, who served our organization effectively and professionally,” Weatherman said. “I’m delighted we were able to find an educator who is also effective, professional and respected in every region of Arkansas.”

AICU is a consortium of 11 independent institutions of higher education throughout the state. In addition to Ouachita, member institutions include Arkansas Baptist College, Central Baptist College, Crowley’s Ridge College, Harding University, Hendrix College, John Brown University, Lyon College, Philander Smith College, University of the Ozarks and Williams Baptist College. The AICU provides support for member colleges and universities in such areas as scholarships, governmental affairs and public affairs.

Reflecting on Horne’s tenure as president, Jay Heflin, chair of OBU’s board of trustees, said, “Dr. Horne has been a beacon of hope and light for Ouachita over the last several years. His leadership and vision have not only transformed the physical appearance of Ouachita’s campus, but they have strengthened the Ouachita community in very meaningful ways. He has put us into an enviable position among Christian liberal arts universities for attracting and retaining the best and brightest students.

“We are thankful for God’s provision in leading Dr. Horne to Ouachita in 2006 and look forward to continuing our relationship with him as he transitions into his new role with Arkansas Independent Colleges & Universities,” Heflin added. “While we won’t see him on a daily basis, we know that God has called him to a new ministry to be a pillar of support for all independent colleges and universities throughout Arkansas. We prayerfully wish him much continued success.”

Sonny Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, called Horne a “great leader and personal friend.”

“As president of Ouachita, not only was he a great friend to my two children while they were students there, he has been a great friend to the pastors and churches in Arkansas and has led the school to new heights as a national leader among private Christian universities,” Tucker said. “As an Arkansas Baptist and as a parent, I deeply appreciate Dr. Rex and Becky Horne.”

Horne, who attended Ouachita as an undergraduate, earned degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary after graduating from Lyon. The Hornes have four adult children and 11 grandchildren.

Prior to becoming president of Ouachita, Horne served 16 years as pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark. He previously was pastor of churches in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. He has served as president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and chair of the Great American Conference Council of Presidents as well as serving on several corporate and civic boards.