Hoyt Purvis, retired UA journalism professor and former Fulbright aide, dies at 83

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,865 views 

Hoyt Purvis

Hoyt Purvis, a longtime journalism and international relations professor at the University of Arkansas and former press secretary and special assistant to U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, died Friday (May 26) at an assisted living facility in Fayetteville. He was 83.

His wife Marion confirmed Purvis’ death to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. A funeral service is scheduled for Aug. 4 at 5 p.m. on the front lawn of Old Main on the UA campus in Fayetteville, followed by a gathering at nearby Carnall Hall.

UA Chancellor Charles Robinson provided the following statement to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal:

“Our university community is saddened by the loss of Hoyt Purvis, who had such a positive impact on the lives of so many of our students and so many others. He will be remembered for his wisdom, stories and decades of service to the university, Fulbright College, School of Journalism and Strategic Media, and international relations as well his service to the U.S. Senate. Our thoughts are with Mary and his daughters.”

Purvis taught at the UA from 1982 until retiring in 2016. According to the UA, his contributions to the field of international education on campus included:

  • Establishing and serving as the first director for the International Relations major;
  • Teaching courses in journalism, foreign policy, political science, Asian studies, Latin American studies, and European studies;
  • Organizing a public symposium on an international topic every year for almost 20 years, drawing government officials, distinguished scholars and international dignitaries to campus;
  • Advising hundreds of students and mentoring staff;
  • Authoring books and articles on a wide array of international topics.

The UA created the Hoyt Purvis Award in 2016 to recognize contributions to and advocacy for international education.

Purvis’ career also included a role as foreign and defense policy advisor/counsel to Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd. President Bill Clinton also appointed Purvis to serve on the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, on which he served for 10 years, including three as chairman.

“I knew Hoyt long before I joined the faculty 30 years ago,” Larry Foley wrote Friday on social media. Foley is a professor and chair of the UA’s School of Journalism and Strategic Media. “He played a role in getting me here, and over the years, we grew even closer. Hoyt was a master teacher and raconteur. He was adept and comfortable talking baseball, politics, international affairs, or just about anything.

“A UT grad and native Arkansan, he’s the only person I ever knew who rooted for both the Longhorns and the Razorbacks. Professor Purvis’ love and devotion to his students was legendary. He was a workhorse of a faculty member, a sage in meetings and a role model for us all. Through my own heartache, I’m grateful for having been among his large legion of friends who were blessed to have been in his friendly, impactful orbit.”