Dr. Randall Wight has been named dean of Ouachita Baptist University’s W.H. Sutton School of Social Sciences, effective July 1, according to Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr.
Wight will succeed Dr. Hal Bass, founding dean of the Sutton School, who has announced plans to return to full-time teaching. The Sutton School of Social Sciences is named in honor of William H. “Buddy” Sutton, a prominent Little Rock attorney who served 10 years as chairman of Ouachita’s Board of Trustees.
Wight, professor of psychology and biology, has served since 2003 as chair of Ouachita’s Department of Psychology. He previously served from 1998 to 2003 as dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. He also has served the past three years as coordinator of the university’s self-study process for reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
A graduate of Arkansas Tech University and Memphis State University, Wight has served on the Ouachita faculty since 1986. His graduate specialties include behavioral neuroscience, visual cortex, perceptual process and philosophy of the mind. Wight has served as president of the Southwestern Psychological Association and is a recipient of Ouachita’s Lavell Cole Most Inspirational Teacher Award.
Bass, dean of the School of Social Sciences since its formation in 2002, previously served as chair of the Department of Political Science, director of the Maddox Public Affairs Center and chair of the Division of Social Science. He holds degrees from Baylor University and Vanderbilt University.
Bass is a former president of both the Arkansas Political Science Association and the Southwestern Social Science Association. He also has been frequently honored with the Student Senate Outstanding Faculty Member Award.
Affirming Bass’ achievements as dean, President Horne noted, “Under his leadership, the school has established a strong sense of identity, assembled an outstanding group of faculty and promoted high standards of scholarship and research. Students and faculty have benefited from his wise and capable leadership.”
According to Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs, “As founding dean, Dr. Hal Bass has raised the profile of the social sciences at Ouachita both on campus and in the larger academic community.
“In returning to the classroom, Dr. Bass will enrich the experience of our students in both the CORE and political science classes,” Poole added. “A recognized scholar of the American presidency, he also plans to expand his significant research and writing in that field.”
“Dr. Bass has modeled as a scholar what he encourages among his colleagues and students,” Wight reflected. “With his impressive relational skills, he reaches out to a wide variety of individuals across religious, socioeconomic, political and generational boundaries. His collegial leadership has set a great example.”
“I have very much enjoyed the opportunity afforded me to serve as dean of the Sutton School,” Bass said. “It has been my great privilege to work alongside the top-notch faculty and students in our school and to bask in their glow. I look forward to focusing on my abiding commitments to teaching and scholarship.”
Announcing Wight’s new role as dean of the Sutton School, President Horne described Wight as “one of Ouachita’s finest classroom teachers.”
Emphasizing that Wight “has built relationships across campus and has gained the confidence of students, faculty, and staff,” Horne added, “His dedication to scholarly excellence, wide-ranging knowledge, strong communication skills and administrative experience will serve him and Ouachita well in this new position. We are pleased that Dr. Wight has accepted this important leadership role.”
Citing Wight’s “multiple leadership roles” at Ouachita, Poole said, “He has developed relationships across campus and is well-equipped to assume the responsibilities of the deanship. His energy, creativity and vision will allow him to build on the strong foundations already in place.”
Pointing to “the strengths of our individual faculty members and various departments,” Wight said, “I want to continue to build on Dr. Bass’ good work and continue to enhance the visibility and impact of the Sutton School on campus and beyond.”
Ouachita Baptist University, a private Christian university in Arkadelphia, Ark., currently enrolls 1,500 students from more than 30 states and 40 nations. Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year as a leading liberal arts university, Ouachita has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 Regional College in the South for four consecutive years.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications