With the fall 2010 semester in full swing, Ouachita Baptist University has announced a significant enrollment gain over the previous year.
As of Sept. 9, the final day to confirm fall enrollment, Ouachita officials reported a total of 1,503 students, an increase of approximately 4 percent over last fall’s total of 1,447 students. This fall’s student enrollment is Ouachita’s largest total enrollment since 2004 and the largest percentage increase since 2000.
Current enrollment also includes more than 500 new freshmen and transfer students, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.
Members of Ouachita’s 2010 freshmen class gather at the conclusion of the university’s annual Tigers & Torches ceremony. Ouachita welcomed more than 500 new freshmen and transfer students this fall, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. (OBU photo by Callie Stephens)
“The enrollment increase is due to a variety of factors,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “Our admissions team, enrollment management, faculty advisors and new housing all contributed to a great enrollment of new students and our best retention rate in years.”
In addition to the enrollment increase, incoming and returning students were greeted with two new residence halls, three new majors, a new campus plaza and two new intercollegiate athletic teams.
Hundreds of Ouachita students gather on Heflin Plaza for the university’s annual Spotlight on Arkadelphia community and business fair to kick off the fall 2010 semester. (OBU photo by Callie Stephens)
The two residence halls that opened this fall, Westside One and Two, provide housing for 128 students. Combined with the university’s Student Village that opened last year, the new facilities house approximately 500 students.
New majors introduced this fall in the Pruet School of Christian Studies include Biblical Languages as well as the interdisciplinary majors of Church Media/Production Arts and Christian Media/Communications in cooperation with the School of Fine Arts and the School of Humanities.
Heflin Plaza was dedicated this summer in memory of prominent Little Rock businessman Johnny Heflin, former chairman of Ouachita’s Board of Trustees, and in honor of the Heflin family. Heflin Plaza, which features a 300-foot-long pedestrian bridge, is a key element in Ouachita’s campus redevelopment plan approved by university trustees in 2007.
Ouachita has expanded its athletic program to 16 teams with the introduction of men’s wrestling and women’s golf. Ouachita, which competes in NCAA Division II sports, also features men’s and women’s basketball, tennis, soccer and swimming & diving as well as men’s baseball, football and golf and women’s cross country, softball and volleyball.
Adding to the excitement of the fall semester was Ouachita’s fourth consecutive No. 1 ranking by U.S. News & World Report as the top regional college in the South. Ouachita also was named one of the top two “Great Schools, Great Prices” universities in the same region for the third year in a row and was ranked among the top five regional colleges in the South in graduation rate.
“We are pleased with the continued recognition of the high quality of Ouachita educational programs,” Dr. Horne said. “Being named the No. 1 Regional College in the South four years in a row is significant. It reflects well on the outstanding faculty and programs available to our students year after year.
“The Ouachita experience is unique, both for its academic strength and the sense of community felt by our students, faculty and staff,” he added. “The rankings bear out what our alumni and students already know – Ouachita is a very special place to study and learn.”
Ouachita’s emphasis on academic excellence includes majors in seven academic schools in the disciplines of business, Christian studies, education, fine arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Ouachita also offers a number of pre-professional programs in such fields as architecture, dentistry, dietetics, engineering, law, medicine, nursing and physical therapy.
During the university’s annual Fall Convocation, Dr. Horne reflected on the Ouachita “bubble” – a term used by students, faculty and staff to describe life on the private Christian liberal arts campus.
Noting that the bubble is considered “a protected area,” President Horne said, “It is a place where you are not only allowed to grow intellectually, spiritually, socially and physically, but encouraged to do so.”
He added that the bubble is “an area that can be defended,” emphasizing that “we can defend at Ouachita an education in the liberal arts tradition that prepares you both for a profession and for life. … We can defend the truth that you can love learning and love God, that you can be committed to a practical discipline while being a faithful disciple.”
Encouraging students to “avail yourself of the opportunities of this great university,” Dr. Horne concluded that the Ouachita experience “truly is foundational to the rest of your life.”
Major Ouachita events scheduled this fall include Tiger Serve Day, a campus-wide community service project on Sept. 25; “Totally Tigers” Homecoming Week Oct. 18-23, featuring Tiger Tunes on Oct. 21-23; the FORE Ouachita benefit golf tournament Oct. 18 at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock; the first annual Stepping Up for Ouachita women’s luncheon Nov. 4 at Chenal Country Club in Little Rock; and Festival of Christmas Dec. 3-4. Ouachita also will celebrate its 125th anniversary as a Christ-centered learning community in 2011.
For more information about Ouachita Baptist University, call 1-800-DIAL-OBU or visit the university website at www.obu.edu.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications