In a series of pivotal actions and announcements, Ouachita Baptist University’s Board of Trustees approved plans Dec. 12 to launch online and off-campus degree programs. Board members also heard reports about three major campus construction and renovation projects, including Cliff Harris Stadium, the Rosemary Adams Department of Visual Arts and the Ben M. Elrod Center for Family & Community.
The resolution concerning online degree programs noted that Ouachita “desires to extend the reach of its vision to foster a love of God and a love of learning by creating for students and other constituents dynamic growth opportunities both on campus and throughout the world.”
Affirming that online education “is a continually expanding means of delivering quality undergraduate and graduate education,” the resolution authorized Ouachita administrators to establish programs to offer online courses leading to the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees “pending approval by appropriate accrediting bodies.”
The off-campus program involves a partnership between Ouachita and New Life Church. The board action notes that Ouachita and New Life “share a vision for equipping the next generation of Christian leaders with a quality education and passion for Christ’s work in the world.”
The resolution further states that “the proposed degree programs will provide a high-quality, relational and ministry-focused Christian education that is both nonresidential and highly affordable as an alternative for students” who might otherwise pursue other educational options.
The action authorizes Ouachita administrators to “establish a partnership with New Life Church to offer courses leading to the Associate of Arts degree at NLC’s Conway, Ark., campus beginning in August 2014, pending approval by appropriate accrediting bodies.”
Among the construction and renovation projects, Ouachita President Rex Horne announced plans for a “100-Yard Campaign” to raise funds to construct Cliff Harris Stadium. Harris, an All-Conference and All-America safety for the Tigers in the 1960s and All-Pro safety for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, played in six Pro Bowls and five Super Bowls for the Cowboys. A major donor has provided a lead gift as a matching challenge for the project, with additional funds being solicited over the next 120 days through the 100-Yard Campaign.
The stadium upgrade, projected to be completed for the 2014 football season, will include updated stadium seating, press box, parking lot and related improvements.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” Dr. Horne emphasized. “We must seize it. We must get it done.”
Other key projects include the naming and remodeling of the Rosemary Adams Department of Visual Arts and fundraising efforts to construct a new facility for the Elrod Center.
Primary renovation priorities related to the Department of Visual Arts include constructing a new front façade and entrance to Moses-Provine Hall which houses the visual arts program; creating gallery spaces to display artists’ works; renovating classroom, studio and office space; and adding an elevator and additional restrooms to the facility. Rosemary Adams, who provided a generous gift to fund the visual arts project, is a 1963 Ouachita graduate with a major in art.
Plans to construct a new $1.05 million facility for the Elrod Center for Family & Community include a $210,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. Ouachita officials will finalize plans to move forward with construction once fundraising for the project is complete.
The Elrod Center is named in honor of Dr. Ben Elrod who served from 1988 to 1998 as Ouachita’s 13th president. According to its mission statement, the Elrod Center focuses on “initiating, encouraging, coordinating and facilitating public service, volunteerism, service learning, servant leadership and community engagement.”
In other actions, board members elected four new trustees:
Mary Pat Anthony, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ouachita, is a retired teacher. She is a member of First Baptist Church of El Dorado.
Jay Heflin, a 1993 Ouachita graduate, is returning to the board. He is vice president for administration of Legacy Termite & Pest Control, Inc., in Little Rock and is a member of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock.
Richard Lusby, a 1974 Ouachita graduate, also is returning to the board. He is an attorney in Jonesboro and a member of First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.
John McCallum is pastor of First Baptist Church of Hot Springs.
The new trustees succeed four trustees who have completed their terms of service on the board: Julie Dodge of Conway, Frank Hickingbotham of Little Rock, Rita Spillyards of Rogers and Jeff Teague of El Dorado.
Trustees also approved two new staff members:
Hannah Bishop, a 2013 Ouachita graduate from Conway, will serve as an admissions counselor. Her territory includes northwest Arkansas, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington.
Vickie Young will serve as a financial aid counselor in the Student Financial Services Office. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Henderson State University. She has worked since 2010 as an admissions and financial aid advisor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications