Declaring “the opening of a whole new era here at Ouachita,” President Rex Horne led the official dedication of Ouachita Baptist University’s Student Village Aug. 20.
As a crowd of approximately 200 students, faculty, staff, donors and honorees gathered along the sidewalks of the circular courtyard ringed by the new facilities, Dr. Horne recognized the individuals and families whose names are engraved on the houses of the Student Village.
The celebration included a reception in the main lobbies of both residence halls as well as an open house. Guests were invited to tour the Student Village which features two residential halls encompassing 12 four-story houses. 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.
Emphasizing that “this is a historic day for Ouachita,” President Horne asked, “Can you imagine over the next years, over generations, over decades the young men and young women who will come and call this home?”
Citing the monumental decisions those students will make concerning calling, career, marriage and spiritual life, Dr. Horne added, “We cannot overestimate the value of what we have done here – not the cost, but the value of what takes place in this place and will in these halls and these buildings for many, many years to come.
“This is a completion,” he said of the $26 million construction project, “but more than that, this is a great beginning.”
Dr. Ken Shaddox, vice chairman of Ouachita’s Board of Trustees and pastor of Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock, described the event as “a significant day in the life of this university.”
Affirming “the opportunity we have to celebrate the commitment to excellence this university has always had,” Shaddox told the crowd, “We stand in awe of the future and what God is going to do in years to come.”
Gosser Hall, the new women’s residence hall, was named in honor of Dr. Bob and Marianne Gosser, members of the OBU classes of 1956 and 1955, respectively. The Gosser Hall recognition was made possible through gifts from the Gossers’ five children, all of whom are Ouachita alumni. Gifts from family members also provided for the naming of five houses in Gosser Hall in honor of Jenny Gosser (’82), Bobby Gosser (’83), John M. Gosser (‘84), Leigh Anna Gosser Askins (’89) and April Gosser Weeks (’94).
Another house in Gosser Hall was 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. Former residents of Frances Crawford Hall and other friends of Mom Chu contributed to the naming of the Mom Chu House. Dr. Horne recognized Mrs. Chu and her daughter, Jane, a 1979 Ouachita graduate.
Dr. Horne also announced that the seventh house in Gosser Hall has been named in honor of John and Yvonne Cloud through a gift provided by Marc and Billie Heflin with furnishings provided by the Roy and Christine Sturgis Foundation. Cloud is Ouachita’s senior development officer for planned giving and Mrs. Cloud is manager of the Ouachita bookstore.
Two named houses in the new men’s residence hall also were announced. The Westmoreland House is named in honor of Andy and Jeanna Westmoreland by Taylor and Terri King and their children, Austin and Maggie. Dr. Andy Westmoreland, former president of Ouachita, has served since 2006 as president of Samford University. Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland is the former dean of Ouachita’s Huckabee School of Education.
The Daniel House is named in honor of the Daniel family who established a continuing endowment for Daniel Hall which was built in 1967. The original Daniel Hall was demolished earlier this year to make way for the Student Village construction project.
Dr. Horne also announced that 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.
The dedication service also featured an a cappella trio by Donna McKenzie Gosser (’82), Jennifer Burchfield (’90) and Abby Turner, a junior at Ouachita. Introducing the special music, Leigh Anna Gosser Askins (’89) said, “As we dedicate this village and commit to God these homes, we give thanks to those before us and pray for those yet to come. May the lives of all who enter and dwell in this place be enriched by God’s love and led by His grace.”
Other program participants included Gus Vratsinas, chairman of VCC, Inc., the project’s general contractor, and architect Gary Clements of Clements and Associates, Inc.
The dedication service concluded with a prayer circle that stretched all the way around the circular sidewalk. Jay Heflin, chairman of the Ouachita Board of Trustees Finance Committee, led the prayer of dedication for the Student Village and the students who will live there beginning this weekend.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications