Four new trustees were elected and two new staff members were announced during Ouachita Baptist University’s quarterly Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 8.
Ouachita President Rex Horne also announced that the Higher Learning Commission has approved Ouachita’s reaccreditation following an in-depth three-year self-study by Ouachita faculty and staff. First accredited in 1927, Ouachita has held continuous academic accreditation since 1952.
Dr. Horne also reported that the university’s student retention and graduation rates are up and that Ouachita has one of the lowest student indebtedness rates among all schools in Arkansas, both public and private.
Newly elected trustees include Steven Collier of Augusta, Susie Everett of Benton, Scott Street of Rogers and Larry White of Conway. They succeed Joe Bill Meador of Fordyce, Betty Oliver of North Little Rock, J.D. Patterson of Searcy and Phillip Smith of Bentonville who have completed their terms of service.
“This is a great board and a great university,” Dr. Horne told the incoming trustees. “We are so proud of what you are going to do to make us even better.”
Re-elected to second three-year terms were Taylor King of Arkadelphia, Larry Kircher of Bald Knob, William H. “Buddy” Sutton of Little Rock and Gene Whisenhunt of Little Rock.
Among the new trustees, Dr. Collier is a physician in Augusta. He and his wife, Susan, are members of First Baptist Church of Augusta. They have three sons and three grandchildren.
Everett and her husband, Dwight, are the owners of Everett Buick GMC in Benton. They are members of First Baptist Church of Benton and have two daughters.
Street, a 1987 Ouachita graduate, is president and CEO of Mercy Health Systems in northwest Arkansas. He and his wife, Christine, a 1985 Ouachita graduate, are members of First Baptist Church of Rogers. They have three sons and one daughter. Their daughter, Samantha, is a current Ouachita student.
White, a 1989 Ouachita graduate, serves as associational missionary for Faulkner Baptist Association. He and his wife, Carla, also a 1989 Ouachita graduate, are members of Central Baptist Church in Conway. They are the parents of three daughters.
New staff positions at Ouachita include Clayton Chapuis, development officer, and Nicole Stuart, student success coordinator.
Chapuis, a 2010 Ouachita graduate, has worked the past year and a half as OBU’s director of outdoor recreation and hall director of O.C. Bailey Hall. In his new role, he will be responsible for helping build and strengthen university relationships with alumni and donors in northwest Arkansas.
Stuart, who graduated cum laude from Ouachita in 2009, also holds a master of education degree in higher education leadership from the University of Arkansas. She has served as retention advisor for UA-Fort Smith’s Office of Student Services and as the graduate coordinator of residence education at the UA-Fayetteville campus. While she was a student at Ouachita, she was a program assistant with Upward Bound and also served as a tutor and mentor for high school students.
Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs, said Stuart’s role as student success coordinator will involve working with at-risk students through one-on-one tutoring programs and other efforts to strengthen student success and bolster retention.
In other action, Gene Whisenhunt was elected chairman of the Ouachita Board of Trustees. He succeeds Richard Lusby of Jonesboro. Taylor King was re-elected vice chairman and Julie Dodge of Conway was elected secretary, succeeding Joe Bill Meador.
Describing his election as chairman as “one of the greatest honors that I have ever had,” Whisenhunt said, “Ouachita has had a tremendous influence on my life. This is a special place.
“It’s a special time at Ouachita as we celebrate 125 years,” he added. “I have a lot of excitement about the future. There is a lot left to do. The journey is far from over. Ouachita’s mission is more important than ever. I think this is a special place and we’re headed into a special time.”
Encouraging trustees to “pray daily for Ouachita,” President Horne declared, “It would be sinful not to attempt great things for God and Ouachita.
“Approach the future with high expectations, always believing that the best days are ahead,” he concluded. “Never forget that our hope is in God.”
During a luncheon following the board meeting, Ouachita was honored by Energy Education for the university’s effective partnership in energy conservation. Dr. Brett Powell, vice president for administrative services, recognized John Hardman, facilities management director; David Owens, energy manager; and Luke Owens, electrical/mechanical facilities management staff member, for their leadership in the university’s conservation efforts.
Gary Clark, Energy Education regional president, presented an Award for Energy Stewardship to President Horne for Ouachita’s role in “conserving our nation’s precious resources” and for “serving as a model of energy conservation to fellow educational organizations” through “outstanding environmental resource stewardship.”
Ouachita Baptist University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, is ranked among “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report and among “America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes magazine. Serving since 1886 as a Christ-centered learning community, Ouachita has a current enrollment of 1,594 students from more than 30 states and 40 nations.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications