Affirming the value of a Ouachita Baptist University education, the university’s Board of Trustees met Sept. 13 on the university’s Arkadelphia campus for their fall meeting. The gathering came one day after Ouachita was ranked in the top tier of “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report for the second consecutive year.
“There has never been an era in Ouachita’s storied history for the faint of heart,” Ouachita President Rex Horne told trustees. Yet even amid challenging economic times, “we have grown significantly, improved our facilities dramatically, balanced our budget and have been blessed by a dedicated faculty and staff.”
Emphasizing that the commitment of university leaders “continues to center on value,” Dr. Horne said, “Our mission and values are becoming increasingly important to our families and churches. Being true to our mission, we’re an excellent educational institution and dedicated to our Christian faith.”
Citing specific examples of institutional strength, Dr. Horne noted that Ouachita’s fall enrollment of 1,532 students “is the second best since 2003.” He said recent renovations to Lile Hall and Evans Student Center are improvements that “aid our students and the work that we do here at Ouachita.”
Reflecting Ouachita’s ongoing focus on value, trustees approved a 2013-14 total rate of $28,980 for tuition, fees, room and board, an increase of 3.8 percent above the current total of $27,920. Trustee Jay Heflin, chair of the board’s finance committee, said Ouachita’s cost and percentage increases remain among the lowest compared to 18 peer institutions in the state and region.
Trustees also approved an increase in Ouachita’s five levels of merit scholarships, with increases ranging from 2 to 10 percent. More than 97 percent of Ouachita students receive financial aid.
In other business, trustees officially approved four new staff members hired since the board’s previous quarterly meeting. New staff members include:
Nicole Herndon, development officer for grants and events. Herndon joined the Office of Development staff on Aug. 27. She previously served as director of marketing and development for Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs where she was responsible for public relations and charitable giving. Herndon, a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, also has worked at KXII-TV in Sherman, Texas, as First News AM anchor, reporter and producer and at KLRT FOX 16 News in Little Rock as an assignment editor, special projects producer and Now-Cast anchor and producer. She and her husband, Matt, have one daughter, Adalyn.
Nicole Lock, educational advisor for Educational Talent Search. Lock joined the TRIO Program staff at Ouachita on June 7. A certified teacher, she holds degrees in public administration and education from Henderson State University. She has worked in public education for three years as well as serving as a program advisor at Henderson State for five years.
James Simpson, Anthony Hall director. Simpson, who joined the Ouachita staff Aug. 1, is a 2012 cum laude graduate of Ouachita with a bachelor of arts degree in kinesiology. He is married to Stephanie (Deen) Simpson, a senior communication sciences and disorders major at Ouachita.
Brandon Sitz, assistant athletic trainer. Sitz joined the Ouachita staff on July 23. He is a 2012 graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education with an emphasis in athletic training.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications