Each Tuesday the HBCU Campaign Fund organization will highlight a Chancellor or President, who currently serves at a Historically Black College and University.
This initiative recognizes the current individuals who serve historically black colleges and universities changing and educating lives daily and producing visionary leaders of the next generation.
This Tuesday (2/2/16) highlight feature Dr. Fitz Hill (pictured below), President of Arkansas Baptist College.
Dr. Fitz Hill was named in 2006 as the President of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Hill serves the mission of Arkansas Baptist College with his personal life’s work: “to make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most.”
Dr. Hill, the youngest of three brothers, was born and raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he graduated from Arkadelphia High School. Hill earned an athletic scholarship to Northeast Louisiana University (now the University of Louisiana at Monroe), playing as a wide receiver on the football team. Hill left Northeastern Louisiana and returned to Arkadelphia to help take care of his mother, who died in 2009.
Hill later transferred to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. To pay for school, Hill managed a shoe repair store and joined the Army ROTC. Hill also founded a coin-op laundromat in 1986 and managed it until 1996. He continued to play football and was an NAIA All-American in 1985 and 1986; he graduated in 1987 with a double major B.A. in communications and physical education.
After graduating from Ouachita Baptist University, Hill returned to Arkadelphia High School in 1987 as an assistant football coach. In 1988, Hill enrolled at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana and was a graduate assistant on the Northwestern State Demons football team. Hill then transferred to the University of Arkansas in 1989 and became a graduate assistant for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team. In the spring of 1990, Hill returned to Northwestern State University and served as quarterbacks and wide receivers coach for that term. While completing his master’s degree at Northwestern State, Hill continued to be a volunteer assistant coach for Arkansas in 1990 and 1991. Hill graduated from Northwestern State with a Master of Arts degree in student personnel services in 1991.
In 1997, Hill received his Ed.D. from University of Arkansas, his doctoral thesis examined the “barriers restricting employment opportunities” for black coaches.
In December 2000, Hill was hired as the head coach of the San Jose State University football team. Hill became the 17th black coach in Division I-A football and one of the few I-A coached with a doctorate. When Hill was hired, the San Jose State athletic department was in financial trouble and ranked 106th out of 114 Division I-A schools in football home game attendance.
On November 22, 2004, before the final game of the season, Hill announced that he would resign from San Jose State at season’s end, at the request of interim university president Don Kassing.
In December 2004, Hill returned to Arkansas, becoming executive director of the Ouachita Opportunity Fund at Ouachita Baptist University as well as co-founder and co-general manager of Life Champs Sports, a youth sports program headquartered in Little Rock. From 2004 to 2006, he was a visiting scholar and research associate at the University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program. During his time at San Jose State, Hill created the Delta Classic, a college football game between historically black colleges and universities held annually in Little Rock, Arkansas. While raising support for the Delta Classic, Hill contacted Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) to speak with their president and found out they, at the time, did not have one. After giving his presentation on the Delta Classic to the school’s board of trustees, they offered him the position of school president and he accepted.
At the time Hill took over at ABC, there was no salary budgeted to pay him, and the school’s enrollment had dipped to fewer than 200 students; the college was in danger of being stripped of its accreditation bu the NCACS (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools). In five years, the school grew enrollment to 1,100 students, its budget $2 million to nearly $20 millions, and kept it accreditation.
Hill is marred to fellow Ouachita Baptist classmate, Cynthia Hill and they have three children together.
For more information about Arkansas Baptist College, visit www.arkansasbaptist.edu.