Ouachita Baptist University Chancellor Ben M. Elrod and his wife, Betty Lou, were honored March 12 with the dedication of a new university entrance and boulevard on the Ouachita campus.
Dr. Elrod, Ouachita’s 13th president, served in that role from 1988 until his retirement in 1997. He previously served as OBU’s vice president for development. During his administration, major campus construction projects included the Jones Performing Arts Center, Anthony and Maddox residence halls, Katie Speer Pavilion and Gardens, International Flag Plaza and Fountain, and Harvey Jones Science Center.
In addition to Ouachita’s new Ben and Betty Elrod Boulevard, the Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community was named in his honor in 1997.
“I am so proud that we have named the boulevard in honor of Dr. Ben and Betty Lou Elrod,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “No one loves Ouachita more. Their lives of service and devotion to Ouachita are exemplary.”
The outdoor dedication ceremony, held at the university’s new entrance located off Highway 7 in Arkadelphia, was scheduled in conjunction with Ouachita’s March 12 board of trustees meeting. Cold, rainy weather failed to dampen the spirit of the celebration as Dr. Horne, Dr. Elrod and other participants shared brief remarks about the entrance and boulevard project.
“Our entrance provides a beautiful door to a campus home of students, faculty and staff who personify great hope and promise,” President Horne emphasized. “The entry drive is meaningful for a great impression to first-time visitors and a sense of home for those who live here.
“We’re here today to honor Dr. and Mrs. Elrod for the gift they have made both toward this boulevard, but even more so toward this university across a lifetime of devoted service and commitment,” Dr. Horne told the crowd. “I can think of no better people we could name this boulevard after than Ben and Betty Elrod.”
Citing Dr. Elrod’s “tremendous leadership and commitment” to Ouachita before, during and since his tenure as president, Dr. Horne declared, “Ben and Betty Elrod love Ouachita Baptist University and they are committed to it.”
He said Elrod Boulevard will stand as a testimony that the Ouachita community is “thankful to God for the contributions these have made to our lives and to this institution.”
“Betty Lou and I are really proud to have this boulevard named for us,” Dr. Elrod responded. “We’re always pleased to be associated with Ouachita in any way and this is a very special way.”
Reflecting on more than 62 years of association with Ouachita, Dr. Elrod said during their time as OBU students, he and Mrs. Elrod “became engaged about where this drive is” when he proposed to her during a picnic on the grassy hillside.
“Ouachita is such a great institution and the people make the institution, both those who are here and those who have been here,” he said. “It has been the great embellishment and joy of our lives to have all of you as friends. … It has been a marvelous journey.”
Brett Powell, OBU’s vice president for administrative services, is coordinating Ouachita’s ongoing construction efforts. Sharing an overview of the current project, he said the entrance and boulevard reflect “a new beginning to the Ouachita campus literally and figuratively,” noting that “our redevelopment of the North campus starts right here where we are today.”
Emphasizing that “none of this would have happened without a partnership with Arkadelphia,” Powell introduced Arkadelphia City Manager Jimmy Bolt.
Affirming the Elrods’ “sense of service above self from a Christian point of view,” Bolt said Elrod Boulevard “creates a positive image for our community.” He described the project as “a beautiful addition to the gateway of our city.”
The entrance and boulevard dedication marks the completion of the first project in a multi-faceted campus construction effort. The centerpiece of the two-year, $45 million campus improvement project is a state-of-the-art Student Village complex that will feature residential facilities for more than 500 students. Phase one of the Student Village construction project is scheduled for completion later this year, with phase two expected to be completed by August 2010.
by Trennis Henderson