As Ouachita Baptist University celebrates its 125th anniversary this fall, university officials have announced a 6 percent enrollment gain over last year.
As of Sept. 8, the final day to confirm fall enrollment, Ouachita officials reported a total of 1,594 students, an increase of 6 percent over last fall’s total of 1,503 students. Coupled with last year’s enrollment gain, the university’s enrollment has increased more than 10 percent over the past two years.
This fall’s student enrollment also marks Ouachita’s largest total enrollment since 2002 and the largest percentage increase in more than a decade.
“We are very pleased with the positive momentum at Ouachita,” said President Rex M. Horne, Jr. “We have increased enrollment this year by more than 90 students. With last year’s growth, we have grown to nearly 1,600 students on campus this fall.
“As we celebrate our 125th anniversary,” he added, “I am most grateful that we continue to grow stronger in providing an excellent, value-driven education that is consistent with our Christian foundation and vision first embraced in 1886.”
“It’s exciting to see Ouachita gaining momentum over the last two years with the largest freshman classes in over a decade,” agreed Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs. “In terms of academic qualifications, they are also among the strongest classes we’ve ever recruited.
“An enrollment increase of 10 percent over the last two years is a strong indication that Ouachita’s reputation for academic and Christian excellence is resonating with prospective students,” Dr. Poole emphasized.
Along with the strong enrollment gain, Ouachita’s 125th anniversary celebration is in full swing this fall. Major campus events already have included a chapel address by Gov. Mike Beebe who declared Sept. 6 as Ouachita Baptist University Day throughout Arkansas.
The university’s Sept. 6 Founders Day celebration was held exactly 125 years after the school’s first day of classes in Arkadelphia in 1886. Activities included a Founders Day Convocation attended by descendants of Dr. John W. Conger, Ouachita’s founding president. President Horne presented the Conger family with the first copies of the university’s new commemorative history book, Ouachita Voices: Celebrating 125 Years of Academic & Christian Excellence. The day’s activities concluded with a Founders Day Musical Showcase featuring a variety of student musical ensembles and solo performances.
Upcoming anniversary activities include a Sept. 20 chapel address by former Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 1976 Ouachita graduate; the semi-annual, student-led Tiger Serve Day community service blitz on Sept. 24; a 125th Anniversary Community Celebration on Oct. 19, from 4 to 7 p.m.; and A Festival of Christmas featuring contemporary Christian recording artists Point of Grace on Dec. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. in Jones Performing Arts Center. The four founding members of Point of Grace, including two current members, are Ouachita alumnae.
For more information about Ouachita Baptist University, call 1-800-DIAL-OBU or visit the university website at www.obu.edu. For 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