Head of Arkansas Baptist College resigns after year; Favors named interim president for 3rd time

Then-Arkansas Baptist College President Calvin McFadden Sr. (left) and Regina Favors are shown in these undated file photos. McFadden has resigned as president and been replaced by Favors as interim president, college officials said Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (Left, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Helaine R. Williams; right, courtesy photo)
Then-Arkansas Baptist College President Calvin McFadden Sr. (left) and Regina Favors are shown in these undated file photos. McFadden has resigned as president and been replaced by Favors as interim president, college officials said Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (Left, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Helaine R. Williams; right, courtesy photo)

Arkansas Baptist College has appointed Regina Favors as interim president, replacing Calvin McFadden Sr., who served as president for one year prior to his resignation.

"The Board of Trustees has accepted the resignation of President McFadden, and it is effective immediately. We thank him for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors," Richard Mays Sr., the college's board chairman, stated in a news release Thursday.

Favors, serving as interim president for a third time, is "an esteemed alumna and stalwart supporter, and we are thankful that she has, once again, accepted the call to service," Mays wrote.

McFadden was hired as president of Arkansas Baptist College, the only historically Black Baptist college west of the Mississippi River, last January, replacing Favors, who had been interim president since 2021. Founded in 1884 as the Minister's Institute, the college in Little Rock was initially funded by the Colored Baptists of the State of Arkansas, and annual enrollment has hovered around 500 students in recent years.

Favors will continue as interim president until the college names its 17th president.

"It is not merely one person or one department which makes up Arkansas Baptist College," Mays said in the release. "Rather, is a community effort which has sustained the college in days gone by and will continue to propel her into a bright future."

In March 2022, the Higher Learning Commission reaffirmed the accreditation of Arkansas Baptist College, citing an improved financial outlook in removing it from probationary status. Colleges must be accredited to participate in federal financial aid programs for their students, and Arkansas Baptist College had been on probation with the Higher Learning Commission since February 2019.

The National Alumni Association of Arkansas Baptist College issued a unanimous "no confidence" vote in the college's board of directors last week.

The no-confidence vote was taken due to "decisions and actions that have destabilized the institution, as well as jeopardized the institution's accreditation with The Higher Learning Commission and community support," said Brenda Hill, president of the alumni association. "Significant change in board leadership is necessary to preserve and enhance the legacy of Arkansas Baptist College, [and] to underscore our commitment to fostering positive change and ensuring the well-being of our alma mater, we have decided to suspend all monetary and in-kind service until our concerns are adequately addressed and resolved."

Hill accused board members of "verbally disrespecting" presidents and administrators -- among other charges -- saying that has led to excessive turnover among leaders of the institution in recent years. The Alumni Association is also requesting the reinstatement of McFadden as president and the resignation of members of the board of directors.

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