Ouachita Baptist University recently received the Pro Patria Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) organization, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Ouachita was nominated for the honor by Dr. Terry DeWitt, associate professor of biological sciences and director of Ouachita’s Athletic Training Education Program.
According to Don Morrow, ESGR Arkansas chair, “This award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize American employers who provide extraordinary patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve. Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s National Guard and Reserve units.”
Brett Powell, OBU’s vice president for administrative services, attended the award ceremony and accepted the award on Ouachita’s behalf.
“At the award ceremony, there were representatives from 30 to 40 employers,” Powell noted. “As each of them was announced and accepted the ‘Above and Beyond’ award, I remember wondering what programs each has in place for their employees in the Guard or Reserves, and thinking that they probably do more than Ouachita. We simply follow the regulations and try to do what is best for the employee, but we do that in all situations –whether it be extended illnesses, a death in the family, returning from active military duty, etc.
“We really don’t have any special programs for employees in the Guard or Reserves; we just try to treat them fairly,” he added. “So, in a way, we were singled out for the Pro Patria Award for being a university that cares about its faculty and staff.”
DeWitt noted that he nominated Ouachita for that very reason.
“Ouachita was supportive of my family while I was away on my first deployment,” DeWitt recalled. He said faculty members “even bought one of three airline tickets to send my family to meet me in Germany during my two-week R & R.”
Ouachita “also had my job waiting on me when I got back,” he said. “As a professor, my courses began in late August. I didn’t return until September but immediately went back on the payroll even though my classes were covered. I had the entire remaining semester without any academic requirements. It is really awesome to see someone do that. I feel that Ouachita was a true patriot in their commitment to me, my family and to the U.S. Army Reserve.”
by Adam Wheat