Lyon College was founded as Arkansas College in 1872 by Arkansas Presbyterians. It has retained its denominational affiliation since its founding and is today one of 63 four-year institutions nationwide recognized by the Church as “Presbyterian Colleges.” Lyon maintains a Covenant with the Synod of the Sun that is periodically reviewed, renewed and affirmed.
The College is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees that includes three ordained members of the denomination. In addition, it is advised by a Board of Church Advocates that includes lay and ordained Presbyterians. The College is a member of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. It maintains ties to Presbyterian Churches throughout the region, regularly participating in the Kirkin' o' The Tartan worship services that draw upon its Pipe Band and regalia. The College hosts the Presbytery of Arkansas’s February meeting every other year. The College also has a campus chaplain, Nancy McSpadden.
In the role of governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and on any institution they serve, the role of Presbyterian clergy is the same as Presbyterian elders. Elected commissioners to the biennial General Assembly meeting must have equal numbers of ministers and elders. Presbyterian clergy have specific duties in a congregation or in accountability to a presbytery that elders and other members ordinarily do not have such as celebrating communion or baptism. The role of all leaders in the church regardless of their specific ordination have the same duty to be a faithful servant leader in the church and in society.