Arkansas Baptists “have never needed Ouachita Baptist University more than we need you now,” Dr. Sonny Tucker told members of the Ouachita Board of Trustees during their recent spring meeting.
Dr. Tucker, a 1983 Ouachita graduate, recently was elected executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Declaring that the love of Jesus Christ “drives us and our love for Him motivates us,” Tucker added, “We have been given the message and ministry of reconciliation.
“We value Ouachita Baptist University,” Tucker said. “Ouachita has to exist to produce champions who leave this place and are very effective – and take with them the message and ministry of reconciliation.”
Prior to Tucker’s remarks, Ouachita President Rex Horne presented him with a resolution adopted in December by trustees following Tucker’s election to his current leadership role. Noting that Tucker “has demonstrated consistent support for Ouachita throughout his years of service,” trustees pledged their “prayers and support for his leadership among Arkansas Baptists in the years ahead.”
Board members also voted to present a Distinguished Alumnus Award to James E. “Jim Ed” Crittenden during the university’s May 11 commencement service. Crittenden, a 1950 Ouachita graduate, is retired as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Tri-Con Inc., a petroleum distribution company. He and his wife, Joyce Noel Crittenden, also a Ouachita alum, were married for more than 60 years prior to her death in 2012.
Describing the Crittendens as “delightful, humble servant leaders who have loved Ouachita through the years,” Dr. Horne said they have established an endowed scholarship, made estate provisions and provided other gifts to Ouachita. He added that the couple has been “generous not only in giving, but generous in spirit.”
Dr. Horne also shared updates about two campus construction projects. A major renovation and refurbishing of the Grant Center in Lile Hall is scheduled for this summer. He said the project is being funded through a generous gift from Dr. Charlie Fuller and his wife, Cindy. Dr. Fuller is a former dean of the Ouachita School of Fine Arts and Mrs. Fuller is a former instructor of voice at the university.
The updated Grant Center will feature a conference room, classroom and seminar room as well as six offices and a reception area.
Dr. Horne cited proposed plans for a new facility for the Elrod Center for Family & Community. He said two major gifts have been received for the project with fundraising continuing before the project can be finalized. Preliminary plans for the two-story structure include three meeting and conference rooms and six offices as well as a reception area and kitchen facilities.
In an interview following the board meeting, Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement, affirmed plans for both the Grant Center and Elrod Center.
“For the first time in the history of the Grant Center, we will have a greatly expanded and purpose-designed area for international education at Ouachita,” Cosh said. “International education has become a critical component in the educational offerings of all universities, so this commitment to expand and refurbish the Grant Center is tangible evidence of the important role we see the center playing in the life of the university in the future.”
Concerning the proposed Elrod Center plans, Cosh noted, “The Elrod Center has for 16 years been transforming the way we think about and engage in service at Ouachita which is one of our key institutional values. Our commitment to future service will be greatly strengthened and enhanced by a new and highly visible building on the south entrance to the university.
“Leadership development at the Elrod Center will be well served as the new building will provide the space and equipment dedicated to enhance the effectiveness and visibility of our programs,” he added. “The desire to see service as a way to learn and learning as a way to serve is a complimentary concept. It integrates the goal of developing leaders who understand their community and who have the desire to engage with it in a meaningful way.”
In other action, board members approved several personnel issues, including:
Dr. Robert Kolt, visiting assistant professor of music at Ouachita, has been named associate professor of music. He holds degrees from Mary Washington College, Radford University and the University of Maryland. He has served as associate professor of musicology at Indiana University and also has taught courses at the University of Maryland, the University of Connecticut and Shenandoah University.
Mark McGraw has been named assistant professor of Spanish. He holds degrees from Texas A&M University and Webster University and is completing work on his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies at Texas A&M. He served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps where he learned Spanish and worked in 35 different countries.
Chad Adams was approved as assistant football coach. He holds degrees from Fort Hays State University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University and has 11 years of coaching experience at several colleges and universities.
Amy Garrett has been named assistant director of the Grant Center for International Education effective April 1. A 2004 Ouachita graduate with majors in communications and history, she holds a Master of Arts degree in intercultural studies from Wheaton College. She has spent three years teaching English in China.
Faculty members granted promotions are: Kathy Collins, from instructor to assistant professor of education; Sally Dann, from instructor to assistant professor of kinesiology and leisure studies; Dr. Barbara Pemberton, from associate professor to professor of Christian missions; Dr. Nathan Reyna, from assistant professor to associate professor of biology; and Carrie Sharp, from instructor to assistant professor of education.
Faculty members granted tenure are: Donnie Copeland, assistant professor of visual arts; Dr. Guyla Davis, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Kayla Dwelle, assistant professor of mathematics; and Dr. Jeff Matocha, associate professor of computer science.
Faculty members granted sabbaticals for fall 2014 are: Dr. Jim Files, assistant professor of accounting, and Dr. Rob Hewell, associate professor of music. Those granted sabbaticals for spring 2015 are: Dr. Terry Carter, professor of Christian ministries; Dr. Tim Hayes, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music; and Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music.
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 30 nations. For more information, visit www.obu.edu.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications