Ouachita officials awarded 69 Bachelor of Arts degrees, eight Bachelor of Science degrees, three Bachelor of Music Education degrees and two Bachelor of Music degrees.
“The work that you do will earn a living, but it is your life that will build a legacy,” Ouachita President Rex M. Horne Jr., told graduates during the commencement address.
Noting that most observers view conditions in the coming year as “dire,” Dr. Horne acknowledged that “serious challenges face you.”
Yet “Christmas comes before the new year,” Horne emphasized. “My forecast for next year and the coming years is something of a minority opinion: I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic.
“Hard times and challenges are not new,” he pointed out, citing the widespread political upheaval, social unrest and poverty at the time of Jesus’ birth.
Affirming Christ’s example, Horne urged graduates to fear not, to trust others and to be people of good news.
“I could not be more hopeful about next year and the years to come because of these young men and young women” who are graduating from Ouachita, President Horne said. “We are excited about what you will do and what will be accomplished in your lives.”
A total of 82 graduates received degrees during Ouachita Baptist University’s final fall commencement ceremony held Saturday, Dec. 20, in Jones Performing Arts Center.
A total of 20 honor graduates were recognized during the ceremony. Students who graduated summa cum laude were Jill D. Houlihan of Arkadelphia; Leah Cherise Nixon of Celeste, Texas; Lindsay Stinson of Crossett; and Melody Taylor of Harriman, Tenn.
Magna cum laude graduates included Emily Ann Evans of Colleyville, Texas; Brittany N. Gubser of Nashville, Tenn.; Devin Lyles and Logan Anne Lyles, both of Bentonville; Timothy Craig Ransom of Garland, Texas; and Aubry Grace Smith of Russellville.
Those who graduated cum laude were Samantha Allen of Gainesville, Texas; Lauren Elizabeth Bailey of Mesquite, Texas; Laura Lee Brownlow of Pickens, S.C.; Grant David Gubser of Denver, Colo.; Sara Ann Hesterly of Sherwood; Sara Jo Morris of Massena, N.Y.; Hannah E. Murdock of Denton, Texas; Jacob Overby of Lufkin, Texas; Amanda Riddle of Pawhuska, Okla.; and Candace Sue Veatch of Texarkana, Texas.
Dr. Stan Poole, OBU’s vice president for academic affairs, conferred the degrees on the graduates and Dr. Danny Hayes, dean of the Pruet School of Christian Studies, led graduates, faculty, staff and guests in a responsive reading.
Other participants during the ceremony included Jeff Garner, senior class president, who led the invocation; Logan Anne Lyles, the graduate with the highest grade point average in the Pruet School of Christian Studies, who read Scripture; and Richard Lusby, chairman of Ouachita’s board of trustees, who led a closing prayer of dedication.
For more than 100 years, OBU held only one commencement ceremony each year. In 1999, a second ceremony was added in the fall to relieve crowding of the spring ceremony. This year’s change of venue to an outdoor spring commencement eliminated the crowding problem, allowing a return to a single ceremony.
“We are merely returning to our longstanding tradition of having only one ceremony per year,” explained Judy Jones, OBU registrar and director of admissions. In the future, fall graduates will be invited to take part in the spring commencement ceremony.
by Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications