Ouachita Baptist University’s Lile Hall, originally dedicated in 1973, was rededicated Sept. 13 following extensive renovation of the longtime campus facility.
Declaring that “progress is a wonderful thing,” Ouachita President Rex Horne told donors, trustees, students, faculty and staff gathered for the outdoor dedication service, “How proud we are of the work that has taken place here in Lile Hall.”
Noting that the upgraded facilities and technology “will have an impact on generations of students to come,” Dr. Horne told those who helped make the project a reality, “We will not forget what you’ve done. We will always be grateful.”
The classroom and faculty office building was constructed almost four decades ago as part of Ouachita’s campus megastructure. It was named in honor of J.G. Lile, a longtime Ouachita professor and staff member. R.A. Lile Hall, added in 1989, was named in honor of his son, R.A. “Brick” Lile, a 1927 Ouachita graduate and former trustee. The facility previously housed Ouachita’s Division of Business and Economics and later the Hickingbotham School of Business before the School of Business moved to Hickingbotham Hall in 2006.
With the recent renovation, Lile Hall is now home to the School of Humanities and Rogers Department of Communications. Other departments, centers and offices housed in the facility include the Academic Success Center, Office of Communications, Grant Center for International Education, Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, Department of History, Publications Newsroom, Speer Writing Center and Foreign Language Lab, TRIO Programs and Video Production Studio.
Named facilities include the Bill and Sharon Arnold Multimedia Center; Grant Center for International Education; Hammons Suite – Office of the Dean, School of Humanities; Luther King Capital Management Classroom; Dr. Wesley Kluck Photography Studio; William Fenna and Emily Rogers Department of Communications; Katie Clift Speer Digital Design Laboratory and Speer Writing Center; and “A Movie Musical” Video Editing Suite.
“It is with great pleasure and excitement that we come together today to dedicate this renovation of Lile Hall for the betterment of Ouachita Baptist University and to the glory of God,” said Dr. Jeff Root, dean of the School of Humanities. “Just as the facility has been renewed and equipped to achieve its purpose in teaching and learning, we can see a new enthusiasm among our students and colleagues.
“Each major taught in Lile Hall will benefit from the renovation,” Dr. Root added. “In addition to paint, carpet and new classroom furniture, the technology in Lile will allow us to use new tools in the classroom today and be ready for what the future may hold. In addition, the new television/video production studio, audio recording space and publications newsroom take us to a new level of professional growth and opportunities.”
Dr. Brett Powell, vice president for administrative services, supervised the renovation project. He said the primary goals of the project were “to make the space more inviting and functional” and “to meet the expectations of our faculty and staff for what would be considered a premier learning environment.” He said key examples include the creation of a new video production studio and student publications newsroom.
Nicole McPhate, a senior mass communications major from Conway, Ark., told donors, “Thank you so much for your sacrifices and gracious gifts to make this dream a reality. The move to Lile Hall was an incredible gift that you have given to me, my peers and students to come.”
Representing the diverse languages taught in the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages housed in Lile, four faculty members offered a blessing in English, Spanish, French and Japanese.
The blessing, written by Dr. Jay Curlin, Kathryn Maddox Professor of English, expressed thanks to God for a facility that has been “given new life this summer though the generosity and hard work of others. … Please make this renewed building and the campus as a whole a place where both teacher and student grown daily in both knowledge and spirit.”
In addition to Dr. Curlin, faculty members who recited the blessing included Dr. Margarita Pintado, instructor of Spanish; Dr. Mary Beth Long, assistant professor of English; and Dr. Ray Franklin, associate professor of Christian missions.
The service concluded with a poem of dedication by Dr. Johnny Wink, Betty Burton Peck Professor of English. The poem, “Somewhere in the Distance: A Meditation on Homes & Homes Away from Home, Temporary and Permanent,” paid tribute to construction workers, a current student and former colleagues.
“This summer, in heat and dry, many workers assembled/To pound and sand, to knock holes in walls,/To open spaces to new vistas, lay new patterns/On reburnished floors, create new environments,” Dr. Wink recited. Another excerpt from the 63-line poem proclaimed, “O strange chemistry of present and past./How woven they are! How movingly woven they are!”
The day’s activities, held in conjunction with Ouachita’s fall Board of Trustees meeting, also featured tours of Lile Hall and a dedication luncheon.
Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., has served since 1886 as a Christ-centered learning community. With a current enrollment of 1,532 students, Ouachita is educating students from 29 states and more than 30 nations. For more information, visit www.obu.edu.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications