One week before the start of fall classes, Ouachita Baptist University officials will dedicate the university’s new $26 million Student Village.
The dedication and open house are set for Thursday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. on Ouachita’s Arkadelphia campus. Following a brief outdoor dedication service, the morning’s events will include a reception and open house for the new facilities. Students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, friends of the university, public officials and the general public are invited to attend the celebration.
The dedication service will feature a welcome by Dr. Ken Shaddox, vice chairman of Ouachita’s Board of Trustees; special music by Mrs. Donna Gosser, minister of worship arts at Second Baptist Church of Little Rock; words of dedication by Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr.; and a dedicatory prayer led by Mr. Jay Heflin, chairman of the Ouachita Board of Trustees’ finance committee.
“This housing is foremost for our students,” Dr. Horne emphasized. “The students moving in for the first time are excited about this new adventure. Students who live here 25 years from now will still find this housing exceptional, beautiful and serviceable.”
The Student Village features two residential halls encompassing 12 residentially scaled four-story houses with a combined total of 129,400 square feet. The facilities include 92 private and semi-private suites that will house more than 350 students. Amenities include two first-floor lobbies and four upper-level terraces as well as study, fitness, theater and game rooms.
The vision of creating a premier residential housing facility on the Ouachita campus began in March 2007 with discussions between President Horne and the Ouachita Board of Trustees. Board members voted in December of that year to engage the architectural services of Clements & Associates, Inc.
Three months later, Dr. Horne told board members, “Today is a very important day for the future of Ouachita. In the next moments we will make decisions that will literally impact the next 50 years or more.” Declaring that “Ouachita is worth everything we have,” President Horne added, “This university deserves the best.”
Trustees responded by approving a major bond issue to finance construction of the proposed capital improvements. University officials named VCC, Inc., as the project’s general contractor and held a groundbreaking celebration on Sept. 11, 2008.
The inaugural named house in the Ouachita Student Village was announced during the Student Village groundbreaking ceremony last fall. The Gosser House was named in honor of Dr. Bob and Marianne Gosser, members of the OBU classes of 1956 and 1955, respectively. The Gosser House recognition was made possible through gifts from the Gossers’ children and their spouses: Jenny Gosser (’82), Bobby (’83) and Donna (McKenzie ’82) Gosser, John and Glenda (Clifton) Gosser (both ’84), Leigh Anna (’90) and Jonathan Askins, and April (’94) and Jeff Weeks.
President Horne announced during spring commencement that a Student Village house would be named in honor of Rosemary “Mom” Chu who retired in May after serving more than 42 years as the hall director of Frances Crawford West.
A house also has been named in honor of the Daniel family who helped provide funding for Daniel Hall which was built in 1967. Daniel Hall was demolished earlier this year to make way for the Student Village construction project.
In addition to the houses already named, the Aug. 20 dedication service will include the announcement of gifts to name the new women’s hall and several other individual houses.
Related campus enhancement projects include the new campus entrance and Ben and Betty Elrod Boulevard, dedicated earlier this year in honor of Chancellor and former President Ben M. Elrod and his wife, Betty Lou. Future construction plans include Heflin Plaza, named in memory of former Ouachita Board of Trustees Chairman Johnny Heflin and in honor of his wife, Sharon, and their family, Jay and Andrea Heflin and Marc and Billie Heflin. The Heflin Plaza project will include a pedestrian bridge linking the university’s North campus and main campus.
By Trennis Henderson
OBU Vice President for Communications