Once Upon A Time – Before the neighbor left the hood, African American families could find collaborative support, love, care, and a discipline system on every block in every community. Encouragement and safety were by-products of the place where the true meaning of “it takes a village” was truly a natural part of the neighborhood. We’re talking about Putting The Neighbor Back In The Hood.

Panel guest: Dr. Fitzgerald hill Fitzgerald Hill, father, mentor, educator, coach, entrepreneur and former President of the 136-year-old Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) in Little Rock, AR. On February 1, 2006, Dr. Fitzgerald Hill was hired as the thirteenth president to lead the only Historical Black Baptist College (HBCU) west of the Mississippi River. After 10 years of progressive academic and community-building leadership at ABC, Dr. Hill stepped down to assume additional community-centered leadership roles as Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist College Foundation and The Scott Ford Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development.

In July of 2016, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Dr. Hill to a seven-year term on the State Board of Education. Additionally, Hill served as a Board of Director for Bear State Bank from 2011 through 2018. During the fall of 2016, Hill accepted a sports and recruiting analyst position as “The Doctor of Football” on the popular Drive Time Talk Radio Show, KABZ 103.7-The Buzz. He also hosts The Westrock Coffee Recruiting Intelligence Report presented by NFP Insurance on The Buzz each week. In the spring of 2017, Hill teamed up with New Life Church to assist in launching a downtown campus in Little Rock where he leads the outreach ministry. In the fall of 2017, Dr. Hill led the efforts to create the Little Rock School District Athletic Foundation to provide financial support to reincorporate extra-curricular activities with role models and mentors within the District to promote academic retention for at-risk students.

Dr. Hill received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and Physical Education from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in 1987, where as a scholarship student-athlete, he earned All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference, NAIA All-District 17 and All-America honors in the sport of football. The former student-athlete received a Master’s degree in Student Personnel Services from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana where he served as a graduate assistant football coach during the 1988 football season. In 1989, he served as a graduate assistant football coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks. His coaching duties were interrupted when he was summoned to active military duties in 1990. The US Army veteran received the Bronze Star and Commendation Medal for services in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Dr. Hill served on the Razorback football coaching staff under five different head coaches (for a period of 12 years). While serving as Assistant Head Football Coach, Recruiting Coordinator and Receivers Coach, he was selected to be the Head Football Coach of San Jose State University Spartans in December of 2000 and served through December 31, 2004. On February 1, 2005, Hill returned to his undergraduate alma mater, OBU as Executive Director and Chief Fundraiser of the Opportunity Fund.

During his administration Arkansas Baptist College was re-accredited three times by the North Central Higher Learning Commission: received the largest private gift ($2.5 Million) from an individual in the College’s history and completed $51 million in capital infrastructure improvements which included an urban community redevelopment component for the neighborhood. In 2010, ABC was the recipient of $21 million dollars of Federal New Market Tax Credits for economic development purposes to invest in the growing demands of the institution where student enrollment increased over 500%. In December of 2014, ABC refinanced 100% of its capital debt of $30 million for 30 years at 2.68% interest rate resulting in substantial annual savings for the College. Fundraising efforts during Dr. Hill’s tenure exceeded $20 million dollars.

With a restructured academic program focused on solving the problems of the urban community in which the campus resides and an aggressive student recruiting campaign, enrollment increased from less than 200 students to a record enrollment of 1,193. In May of 2015, the College graduated the largest class (161) in the school’s history. During President Fitzgerald Hill’s tenure, the ABC’s annual budget increased from $2 Million to as high as $21 Million.

As a testament to his integrity, academic discipline and dedicated work, the Arkansas Baptist College Board of Trustees awarded Dr. Hill the academic rank of Professoriate and honored his excellence in entrepreneurial and community leadership by naming the newest constructed residential facility in his honor, the D r. O. Fitzgerald Hill Residence Hall.