Henderson State University hires Arkadelphia native, current SAU president Trey Berry as next chancellor

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 809 views 

Trey Berry

Henderson State University in Arkadelphia has named Trey Berry its next chancellor. The appointment, announced Wednesday (Nov. 1) in a news release from the university, is effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Berry, 62, will succeed Bob Fisher, who is the school’s interim chancellor during the fall semester and was not a candidate for the position. Fisher took the job in September after Chuck Ambrose resigned.

HSU’s previous full-time campus leader, President Glen Jones, resigned in July 2019, just days after HSU faculty members voted no confidence in Jones and called on the institution’s governing board to relieve him, citing his alleged financial mismanagement and lack of transparency.

According to Wednesday’s news release, Berry is an Arkansas historian, professor, former dean and provost. Since 2015, he has been president of Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. He previously served various roles at Ouachita Baptist University in Little Rock, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

In the news release, Berry said he would have “a forward focus by building the Henderson community, growing enrollment and student success, further stabilizing finances and increasing support from every sector.

“I know we can build upon the talents of so many wonderful and dedicated students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends at Henderson to shape an even stronger and more vibrant ‘Reddie Family’ and to create an ever-evolving, unique campus where students come not only to learn, but to flourish,” Berry said.

HSU is part of the Arkansas State University System. Chuck Welch, president of the ASU System, said Berry’s selection was fitting for an Arkadelphia native whose family has “a storied history” with Henderson.

Berry’s father — Henderson Hall of Fame member Clyde Berry — was the Reddies’ head football coach and baseball coach and a kinesiology professor at various times during the 1960s through the 1980s. Clyde Berry Field is the home field of the Henderson baseball team.

“Trey Berry brings so many positive qualities to Henderson — from significant higher education leadership experience to his history with and love for the university and his hometown of Arkadelphia,” Welch said. “His decision to return home and join Henderson is such a vote of confidence in the faculty, staff and students. He will be a critical part of Henderson’s return to success and growth.”

In the news release, Berry said HSU was part of his daily life from when his family moved to Arkadelphia when he was two years old until his early college years.

“The lessons I learned from the people of Henderson forged not only early memories, but also gave me leadership exposure and daily examples to follow that I still use today,” he said. “The opportunity to lead the team at Henderson is fully in my heart. Henderson remains such a pivotal part of my personal story and my family’s history. Now, I have a calling to become a meaningful part of Henderson’s history.”

Fisher said he would be leaving Henderson in excellent hands.

“Dr. Berry has proven himself to be one of America’s most outstanding university presidents,” Fisher added. “We are excited that he will be bringing his innovative, entrepreneurial and enthusiastic leadership to Henderson. Henderson is embedded in Trey Berry’s DNA. Today, we celebrate that this DNA has brought him to Henderson, where we say welcome home to him and Katherine with arms wide open.”

While president at SAU, Berry oversaw the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history, resulting in endowment growth of 48% from $31 million to $46 million. Enrollment increased 24% to the highest level in SAU’s history, and the university added 21 graduate degrees and certificates, including a new doctoral program.

SAU reported a fall enrollment this year of 5,128, an all-time high. HSU announced enrollment of 2,139 students for the fall 2023 semester, a decrease of approximately 15% from the fall 2022 semester.

Berry has a bachelor’s degree in history from Ouachita Baptist and a master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of Mississippi.