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King University Honors Richard A. Ray, Ph.D.

Dr. Richard A. Ray & President Alexander WhitakerBRISTOL, Tenn., April 10, 2017 — A longtime faculty member, trustee, and former president of the University was applauded today as King awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters to Richard A. Ray, Ph.D.


Presentation of the degree came during the inauguration ceremony of Alexander W. Whitaker as his first official act after being formally installed as King’s 23rd President.


“For decades, Richard Ray has served the King community with a great wealth of spirit and intellect,” said Whitaker. “In my first official act as President I am thankful for the opportunity to honor his heritage of wisdom and kindness, and during this important year in King’s history, it is our privilege to recognize his many accomplishments.”


Throughout his career, Ray served the University in a number of roles, including as a member of the faculty for 14 years, and a member of the Board of Trustees for 33 years, including as Vice Chair. From 2014 to 2016, he served as King’s Interim President, and is officially recognized as the University’s 22nd President.

“As we celebrate the inauguration of Alexander Whitaker, it is entirely fitting that we also recognize Dick Ray,” said Warren Payne (’69), Chair of King’s Board of Trustees. “Dick has shaped the King community through many years of thoughtful guidance and compassion. Generations of students, faculty, staff, and alumni have benefited from his presence, and we are grateful for his dedication and steadfast service.”

Ray is a 1958 graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He received a Rockefeller Brothers Theological Fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, where he studied from 1958-59. He received his Master of Divinity in 1961 from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, followed by his doctorate in theology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 1964.

As a Presbyterian minister, Ray served congregations in Crossett, Arkansas, and Radford, Virginia, and was senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tennessee, from 1981 to 1997. In addition to his service as a minister and educator, he was senior editor and managing director for John Knox Press for nine years.


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.