In February of 1986 he was named the 14th President of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. He retired from the presidency in 2008 and, at 22 years in the position, was the longest-serving president in the university's history.
Dr. Charles DeWitt Dunn, 67, died Sunday, May 5, 2013, at his home in Arkadelphia, of complications from his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Born on Dec. 2, 1945, to Charles E. and Lucille (Bailey) Dunn in Magnolia, he graduated from McNeil High School in 1963, earned his BA as a first generation college student from Southern Arkansas University in 1967, an MA from the University of North Texas in 1970, and his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in 1973, each in political science.
An educator for 43 years, he began and ended his career teaching political science to college students, a role he dearly loved. He began his career in 1969 at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, teaching in the political science department before moving in 1975 to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. There, he served as a professor of political science before becoming chair of the department and being named the university's Director of Governmental Relations.
It was this experience with the Arkansas State Legislature that sparked his interest in university administration, and in February of 1986 he was named the 14th President of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. He retired from the presidency in 2008 and, at 22 years in the position, was the longest-serving president in the university's history. He ended his career at Henderson as President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Political Science, teaching courses in the American Presidency, Political Behavior, and State & Local Government.
In each of his roles in higher education, he was focused on the needs of students and was particularly proud to serve the needs of students from Arkansas.
Throughout his career he served on numerous boards and commissions at the state, national, and local levels. In 1986 he was selected by his peers to chair the Arkansas Presidents and Chancellors Association; Governor Bill Clinton appointed him to chair the Commission on Arkansas's Future from 1989-1993; and he was a member of the Arkansas Community Foundation Board of Directors from 1996-2006, chairing the board from 2002-2003.
After leading Henderson into the NCAA in 1992, he served as vice president and then president of the Gulf South Conference from 1996-2000. From 2000-2001, he served as president of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.
He was also committed to serving his local community, and among his many service organizations were the HSU Wesley Foundation Board, the Executive Board of the United Way of Arkadelphia, and the Arkansas Methodist Children's Home Board of Directors. He was a member of the Rotary Club between 1982 and 2008, and was selected as a Paul Harris Fellow.
A loving husband, father and grandfather, Charles played an active role in the life of his family, whether traveling to Japan , organizing family trips to Orlando , or simply teaching his grandchildren and daughter-in-law to drive a four-wheeler or shoot a pistol in the Ozarks.
He is survived by his best friend and wife of 47 years, Dr. Donna Jane (Parsons) Dunn of Arkadelphia; and four children: Dr. Aimee M. Shouse (Robert) of Macomb, Ill., James D. Dunn (Haruno) of Kawasaki, Japan, Joseph C. Dunn (Rachel), of Little Rock, and Mary E. Dunn of Little Rock; five grandchildren: Emma Shouse, Meghan Shouse, Ethan Dunn, Isabelle Dunn and Emily Dunn; his father, Charles Edward Dunn of Arkadelphia; his brother, Michael E. Dunn (Mary) of Leesburg, Va.; his niece, Meredith Ortiz (Jose) of Silver Springs, Md.; his aunt, Dorothy Cook of Magnolia; and seven loving first cousins who live in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
He was preceded in death by his mother.
A visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, from 6-8 p.m. at Ruggles-Wilcox Funeral Home in Arkadelphia. A memorial service celebrating Dr. Dunn's life will be held Thursday, May 9, at 1 p.m. at Arkansas Hall, Henderson State University.
Pallbearers include Dr. James Andrews, Mr. Bobby G. Jones, Mr. Paul Hankins, Dr. Alvin Futrell, Dr. Kenneth Taylor, Mr. Chad Fielding, Mr. Tom Gattin and Mr. Kyle Jones. Honorary pallbearers include Dr. Maralyn Sommer, Dr. Robert Houston, Mr. Alex Strawn and Mr. Paul Dixon.
Memorials may be made to the Charles D. Dunn and Jane Parsons Dunn Scholarship in care of the Henderson State University Foundation, HSU Box 7550, Arkadelphia, AR 71999-0001.
Sign the online guest book at www.ruggleswilcox.com.