Remembering Southwestern’s 13th President, Roy B. Shilling, Jr.
June 27, 2023
June 27, 2023
Roy B. Shilling, Jr., who served 19 years as Southwestern University’s 13th president, died June 24, 2023 in Austin, Texas.
During his tenure as president, Shilling led a complete redesign of the Southwestern campus, including major renovations and new construction involving 31 different buildings. He was also instrumental in dramatically increasing the university’s endowment from $36.6 million to $341.6 million and in increasing total university assets from $74 million to $574.6 million.
With the transformation of the campus and its educational program under Shilling’s leadership, including the founding of a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, Southwestern was cited among the nation’s highly recognized liberal arts institutions and was increasingly invited to become active in regional and national accreditation circles.
Prior to joining Southwestern Shilling served as president of Hendrix College for 12 years. He also served as assistant to the president of Tennessee Wesleyan College and director of planning and research at Baldwin-Wallace College, Ball State. Following his service at Southwestern he served as interim president of his alma mater, McMurry University.
After retirement Shilling assisted many institutions across the country as a senior consultant with Academic Search, Inc., Washington, D.C. In that role he identified and recruited senior administrative officers for leadership in private colleges and universities. He also served as a consultant to colleges and universities, focusing on enhancing the effectiveness of presidential leadership and elevating the commitment and support of the trustees.
Selected as one of the 100 most effective college and university presidents in the country, Shilling served on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He also served on the Division III President’s Council of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and was a member of the Air University Board of Visitors (USAF). He also served as a president, vice president and secretary-treasurer for the Southern University Conference.
During his tenure at Hendrix College, Shilling began his work in regional and national accreditation in higher education. He was active as a consultant/evaluator and member in the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, where he also served on the board of directors. He also served as vice chair and chair-elect of the Executive Board of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education in the North Central Association, and was a consultant to the United States Department of Education. He also chaired the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for Arkansas and later served as chair of the Rhodes committee for Texas.
Shilling served as vice president and president of the University Senate of The United Methodist Church, which is charged with accrediting United Methodist-related colleges and universities. As one of the incorporators of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, he also served on its board of directors. He was also a member of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church and a member of the National Commission on United Methodist Higher Education.
Shilling’s public service included chair of the Arkansas Arts and Humanities Council, member of the board of directors of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, member of the board of directors of the Commercial National Bank in Little Rock, member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO Arkansas). He was also a member of the Austin Area Research Organization, the board of directors of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Philosophical Society of Texas, and the board of directors for Republic Bank-Austin.
Throughout his career in higher education, he earned a reputation for his leadership in the American college presidency, his expertise in positioning institutions of higher learning, and for his knowledge and effectiveness in institutional planning, governance, and fundraising. Early in his career, Shilling served on the faculty and presented numerous papers on the financing, management, and governance of colleges and universities at workshops and institutes at Indiana University, Oklahoma University, the University of Maryland, Duke University, and the University of Notre Dame.
Shilling earned a bachelor of arts degree from McMurry University, a bachelor of divinity degree from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree from Indiana University, where he also earned his Ph.D. McMurry University named Shilling a Distinguished Alumnus, and subsequently conferred an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. SMU’s Perkins School of Theology also named him a Distinguished Alumnus. Shilling served in the U.S. Army in the 101st Airborne at Camp Breckenridge (KY) in 1952-53 and with the 3rd Infantry at Ft. McNair (Washington, D.C.) in 1953-54.
Dr. Shilling was preceded in death by his parents Roy Bryant Shilling and Lila Prestage Shilling (College Station); sister Beth Van Cleave and husband, Horace “Buddy”; brother-in-law Herschel Riddle and wife, Ann (Houston); sister-in law Kathryn Riddle Beard and husband, James (Bedford,); nephews, Jerry and Terry Riddle (Houston). He is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Margaret Riddle Shilling (Austin); daughter Nancy Shilling (Lakeway); son, Roy B. Shilling III and wife Laurie (Las Vegas, NV); sister Sue Gibbs and husband John Gibbs (Victoria); nieces Diana Van Cleave Buroughs (Cimarron, KS), Jan Beard Evans (Dallas), Judy Beard Foreman (Colleyville), nephews John David Gibbs (Victoria), Jimmy Gibbs (New Braunfels), Scott Van Cleave (Louisville, KY), James Beard Jr. (Hurst).
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, July 1 at 2 p.m. in the Lois Perkins Chapel on the Southwestern University campus. A reception in the Caldwell Carvey Foyer will follow. Another service will be held at Hendrix College on July 8 at 2 p.m. in Greene Chapel. He will be interred there in the Shilling Memorial Garden.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to make a gift to Southwestern University in memory of Dr. Roy B. Shilling, Jr. at southwestern.edu/makeagift.