Arkansas Baptist College President Dr. Calvin McFadden Resigns After One Year

The college's Board of Trustees announced McFadden's resignation in a news release last Thursday.

Dr. Calvin McFadden x Arkansas Baptist College
Dr. Calvin McFadden via Mass Live.

Dr. Calvin McFadden Sr. has stepped down as president from Arkansas Baptist College. The College has appointed Regina Favors as interim president, 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,” Board Chairman Richard Mays Sr., stated in a news release last 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.”

McFadden was hired as president of Arkansas Baptist College, the only historically Black Baptist college west of the Mississippi River, in January 2023, 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.

Arkansas Baptist College has faced some significant challenges throughout its over century-old history. From constant leadership shakeups, financial delays, and declining enrollments, the College continues to navigate a long road to recovery.

Old Main on the campus of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock via Arkansas Online.

In 2011, the College had over 1,100 students enrolled that declined over the years to a little over 500 students. Kenneth Harris, chair of the board of trustees of the college, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “We don’t have the reserves and all of that that many institutions have and carry over. We just don’t have that. So, if we run into a problem, we don’t have anything to fall back on, in order to avoid a situation like this. We’re hoping to get there, but at this point, we’re not there.”

In 2013, the federal government placed Arkansas Baptist College on heightened cash flow monitoring. Meaning the federal government would only reimburse the college for proper expenses and money will not be awarded upfront before disbursements have been made.

The faculty senate at Arkansas Baptist College sent a letter to the Board of Trustees and the college’s accrediting agency listing a series of grievances. The letter also recommended the college’s president at the time, Fitz Hill, and chief financial officer, Billy Owens, be relived of their duties.

Due to a delay in receiving funds from the federal government, the college had not paid faculty and staff members and students did not receive financial aid payments. The delay was caused by glitches in the college’s automated financial systems.

Eventually the problems were fixed and a new chief financial officer was hired. Recently, the college was able to secure a $30 million loan from the federal government that allowed it to repay its creditors, including nine local banks.

In March 2022, the Higher Learning Commission reinstated accreditation of Arkansas Baptist College, citing “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.

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