A historically black college with ties to a state Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organization is losing its president after a little more than a year.
Arkansas Baptist College announced Dec. 18 that it has terminated President Joseph Jones for “lack of transparency” with the board of trustees. Jones told Diverse, a news magazine that covers higher education, he resigned and is considering legal action.
Arkansas Baptist College hired Jones effective Sept. 1, 2016, to succeed Fitz Hill, a football coach turned college president. Hill was credited with saving the school founded in 1884 by African-American Baptists before running into financial problems related to rapid growth, inadequate infrastructure and resulting debt.
Just last week Diverse, founded in 1984 as Black Issues In Higher Education, profiled the new president’s new strategic plan titled “The Way, The Truth, The Life” to address institutional weaknesses and uphold the school’s Christian identity.
Other recent media reports said the school located in Little Rock’s Central High School district is having problems meeting payroll obligations.
Details of Jones’ departure are unclear, but board chair Kenneth Harris, a retired professor at Henderson State University, said in a statement Dec. 18 that trustees have lost confidence in his ability to lead.
Arkansas Baptist College and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas joined in a partnership in August 2007 when the state CBF organization moved offices to a 19th-century home on campus restored as part of the previous president’s focus on urban neighborhood revitalization.
The multifaceted partnership includes supporting the school’s vision to provide a college education to the under served and promote economic growth in the neighborhood, mission projects related to construction, literacy and prison ministries and reform and modeling healthy race relations as part of the New Baptist Covenant movement launched by former President Jimmy Carter.
“CBF Arkansas values our 10-year partnership with Arkansas Baptist College, its leadership, faculty, staff, students, mission and location,” said Ray Higgins, executive coordinator of the network of 23 churches plus individuals across Arkansas that partner with the 1,800-church Fellowship.
“The college has a remarkable history of educating and preparing students for careers, for life and for service,” Higgins said. “During this past decade especially, ABC has experienced renewed growth and development. We continue to partner with and pray for ABC in her mission of ‘growing hope’ through providing the transformational experiences of a college education.”
Hill, former head football coach at San Jose State University and assistant for the Arkansas Razorbacks, led Arkansas Baptist College as president for 10 years. He now heads the Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development, an entrepreneurship initiative of Arkansas Baptist College, and serves on the state board of education.