Gov. Mike Beebe, the keynote speaker for Ouachita Baptist University’s opening chapel of the academic year, presented a proclamation declaring Sept. 6, 2011, as Ouachita Baptist University Day in the state of Arkansas.
The Aug. 30 chapel service served as a kickoff event for Ouachita’s 125th anniversary celebration throughout the fall semester. Sept. 6, 1886, marked the first day of classes for Ouachita Baptist College, with an inaugural fall enrollment of 166 students. During the ensuing 125 years, the university has grown to an enrollment of approximately 1,600 students from more than 30 states and 40 nations.
The proclamation presented by Gov. Beebe to Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr., notes that Ouachita “has operated continuously since 1886 to meet the educational needs of students from Arkansas, other states in our nation and numerous countries around the world.”
It adds that Ouachita “offers a strong curriculum with four bachelor’s degrees in more than 50 majors of Business, Christian Studies, Education, the Fine Arts, the Humanities, the Natural Sciences and the Social Sciences.”
Emphasizing that Ouachita “is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding as a learning community dedicated to fostering a love of God and a love of learning,” the proclamation concludes by encouraging “fellow citizens to recognize and congratulate the trustees, administration, staff, students and alumni for 125 years of service to higher education in Arkansas.”
Introducing Gov. Beebe to the chapel crowd, President Horne said, “How blessed we are today to begin our celebration of our 125th year with the governor of the state of Arkansas to come and be our speaker. I speak to you so often about being a difference maker. Here is one before us today who is truly a difference maker. … He is a man of service, now in his second term being elected by the citizens of Arkansas as our 45th governor.”
In his chapel address, Gov. Beebe detailed the biblical account of Queen Esther who had “been placed by God in that position for a time such as that” to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people who were scheduled to be slaughtered.
Noting that going before the king without an invitation “was so taboo that it might put you in peril; wife or no wife,” Gov. Beebe added that Esther declared, “If I perish, I perish.”
Citing her courage and leadership, Gov. Beebe said, “She either had to do it or God would replace her and somebody else would do it. For all of the peril, she beseeched the king and was successful.”
Applying Esther’s example to today, Gov. Beebe said, “You, me, Dr. Horne, virtually all of us at some time in our lives will be called on to do something dangerous or unpleasant or taboo or against the norm and you will be faced with that challenge and decision.
“If you accept the challenge despite the obstacles, despite the dangers, despite the challenges and if you are successful,” he added, “then you know that you fulfilled the challenge for a time such as this.”
Ouachita provides students “an educational opportunity to be able to make those judgments going forward in your life … that allow you to meet those challenges,” Gov. Beebe concluded. “I hope all of you will understand when that time comes, that you are not alone, that there are people on whose shoulders you stand and that there is a precedent for doing God’s will.”
In addition to Gov. Beebe’s visit, other 125th anniversary events in the next few weeks include a Founders Day Convocation and Musical Showcase on Sept. 6, a campus concert by Gungor on Sept. 9 and a chapel address by former Gov. Mike Huckabee on Sept. 20. Activities also will include a 125th anniversary Community Celebration on Oct. 19 and A Festival of Christmas featuring Point of Grace on Dec. 2-3.
For more information about Ouachita’s 125th anniversary celebration, contact the university’s Office of Communications at 870-245-5206 or visit www.obu.edu/125.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications