Celebrating the long-term impact of international education at Ouachita Baptist University, officials dedicated the newly renovated Daniel and Betty Jo Grant Center for International Education yesterday.
Emphasizing that “the Grant Center is a place dedicated to educating the whole person,” Grant Center Director Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement, said, “It specializes in educational experiences that touch all our senses and all dimensions of our humanity.
“The center is about developing new capacities of insight and understanding,” he added. “It is about seeing goodwill and understanding and about freeing us up to embrace the challenges to equip us with a well-furnished mind and a well-tuned heart. The newly renovated center offers a new focus to our efforts to make international education a key element in each Ouachitonian’s journey.”
Highlighting the mission of “bringing the world to Ouachita and taking Ouachita to the world,” the Grant Center is named in honor of Ouachita President Emeritus Daniel Grant and his wife, Betty Jo. Dr. Grant served as Ouachita’s 12th president from 1970 to 1988. This summer’s Grant Center renovation coincides with the recent celebration of Dr. Grant’s 90th birthday as well as the 90th anniversary of Ouachita’s international education efforts.
Charles Pong of Kaifeng, China, enrolled as Ouachita’s first international student in 1923. Nine decades later, the Grant Center recruits international students and provides Ouachita students and faculty opportunities to experience international study, both on campus and abroad.
Primary funding for the renovation project came from a lead gift by Dr. Charles L. and Cindy Fuller. 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.
Affirming the Fullers for “the stewardship of their lives, their abilities, their gifts, their passion, their pain and their possessions,” Ouachita President Rex Horne said, “They are exemplary stewards to us in every aspect of life.”
Also citing Dr. and Mrs. Grant’s impact on Ouachita over the years, Dr. Horne said they “continue to be a driving force for all that is good and noble about Ouachita and specifically when it relates to international education.”
President Horne also emphasized the pivotal role of “our international students past, present and those yet to walk these beautiful grounds.”
“You have added distinctiveness to our campus,” he said of Ouachita’s international students who hail from more than 30 nations. “Your presence, ideas and involvement have reminded us of the reality of this wide world and the responsibility we have to the citizens of the nations of the world.”
Others who spoke at the dedication service include Zara John, a junior sociology major from India; Dr. Tim Knight, dean of the Patterson School of Natural Sciences; and Dr. Brett Powell, vice president for administrative services.
Expressing appreciation for “all that the Grant Center has meant to me for the past three years,” John said, “Ouachita is truly a home away from home. The experiences we gain here are deep and meaningful.”
Speaking on behalf of the faculty, Dr. Knight said, “Our students benefit directly when they get to study abroad. All of our students benefit from international and MK students here on our campus. It is obvious that our faculty appreciate these opportunities.
“Visions do become reality,” he added. “The facilities match the program and we’re proud of the program.”
Dr. Powell noted that the renovation “truly is a transformation, starting with the entryway and the reception area that welcome you to the Grant Center.” He said the project has provided “more of a physical presence that equals the significance of the Grant Center on the Ouachita campus.”
Named spaces in the center include the Coulter Seminar Classroom named in honor of the Coulter family. Dr. Ed Coulter is a former vice president for administrative services at Ouachita and his late wife, Dr. Fran Coulter, was a professor of history. Dr. Coulter and his wife, Lucretia, were among those present for the dedication service. The Palmer Classroom is named in honor of Gordon and Melbaree Palmer, lifelong friends of the Grants. The center’s English as a Second Language office will be named in honor of the David and Jimmie Joe Leech family of Stuttgart.
The renovation features an expanded reception area, conference room and enlarged classroom, providing expanded space for such uses as English as a Second Language classes and study abroad interest meetings. The entire suite was updated with new finishes such as carpeting, ceiling tiles, lighting, paint and technology.
Also added during the renovations was a “legacy wall” that combines photographs and text layered on an antique world map. Funding for the legacy wall was provided by one of the Grants’ daughters, Carolyn Walton, and her husband, Bill. In addition, other friends of the Grant Center provided general endowments and travel awards to assist future study abroad students.
Shirley Hardin, assistant registrar and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Grant, said the legacy wall was created to honor the Grants, provide information about global education both past and present and inspire others to become a part of Ouachita’s legacy of international education.
Reflecting on the significance of the renovated space, Dr. Grant said in an interview following the dedication ceremony, “Several things worked together to give us perfect timing for the renovation and expansion of Ouachita’s international education facilities.” He added that “the generous gift from Dr. Charlie and Cindy Fuller” and “the steady growth of international travel and study options for OBU students and faculty” were among several factors that “pointed toward a greater need for a more visible, useful and beautiful place to bring Ouachita’s international dimensions together.”
“Ouachita has an impressive story to tell about its international involvement and achievements, even though its geographical location is not an international crossroads,” Dr. Grant said. Noting that “Ouachita’s remarkable mix of academic and Christian excellence extends to its international accomplishments,” he said Ouachita “has been a strong pioneer in international exchange programs in most of the continents of the world. The new center will help the Ouachita community to become aware of these achievements.”
For more information about the work of the Grant Center for International Education, contact Ian Cosh at email@example.com or (870) 245-5320.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications