Celebrating the beginning of a new academic year, Ouachita Baptist University held its opening convocation service Sept. 1 on the university’s Arkadelphia campus.
Highlighting the issues of success, significance and sacrifice, Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr., told the convocation crowd, “Some might say that they are at Ouachita in order to help their plan move along toward a successful career.”
Noting that “a college education is certainly vital to that goal,” he added, “As Ouachita students, you will be prepared for success, but you also will be challenged to not lose your soul along the way.”
In addition to success, “a significant life exerts influence and impact,” Dr. Horne said. “While success and significance are both possible in a life, it is nearly impossible for them to share priority in one’s life.
“For our faculty and staff, their significance is largely seen in the investment they make in hundreds and thousands of lives across the years,” he pointed out. Professors make a positive impact “with each lecture, lab, rehearsal, event, concert, conversation and contest. They influence difference makers every day.”
Emphasizing that “neither success nor significance is instantaneous,” President Horne said, “It takes time and it takes sacrifice.”
Citing the sacrifices of founding President J.W. Conger and other early Ouachita leaders, he added, “The generations of men and women who have served here have also known what sacrifice is all about and because of their sacrifice, they have sustained Ouachita. Those who serve here today have determined that they are called to this place and the highest claim, the greatest good, is not their personal or professional achievement but rather what they can empower you, all of you, to do and to be.
“This is a unique university where people will pour their lives into yours,” he said. “You build a life and legacy, success and significance one day at a time.
“Enjoy these years to the fullest,” Dr. Horne urged the students. “Make friends. Apply yourselves. Know the difference between success and significance. Be willing to sacrifice and you will have a successful Ouachita experience.”
Other convocation participants included Ian Cosh, assistant to the president for community development, and Dr. Stan Poole, vice president for academic affairs.
Cosh, who coordinates Ouachita’s weekly chapel services, told students the chapel programs are designed to provide spiritual, cultural and community development.
“Chapel is part of the total Ouachita experience,” he said. “Don’t forget about your own personal responsibility. … Your own quiet time of communing with God is vitally important.”
Noting that truths shared during chapel “might transform your life,” Cosh said the experience “can turn a lot of common moments on Tuesday into rich times of growth.”
Dr. Poole detailed the symbolic tradition of the academic procession which featured university professors in full academic regalia as well as the ceremonial mace and presidential medallion.
“Why do we think it’s special enough to bring out these ancient symbols of academic tradition?” he asked. “Convocation is a time to celebrate the university’s mission as a Christian liberal arts university. It’s an occasion that calls faculty, staff and students to our common pursuit of knowledge and truth under the Lordship of Christ.”
Recognizing the faculty members who hold Ouachita’s 19 endowed chairs of instruction, Dr. Poole introduced Dr. Kent Faught, who was appointed by trustees last fall to the Jay and Lynn Heflin Chair of Business. Dr. Faught, the university’s newest holder of an endowed chair, is an associate professor in the Hickingbotham School of Business. He has served since 2000 as a Ouachita faculty member.
This week’s convocation also included a time of prayer on behalf of the family of Lauren Gilmore, a Ouachita freshmen who died in a car accident Aug. 28 and for the recovery of MiKalya Hampton, also an OBU freshman, who was hospitalized following the one-car accident. Prayer also was offered on behalf of the families of Brittney Givens and Shernell King, friends of the two Ouachita students, who also died from injuries sustained in the accident.
Expressing concern “for the families who have suffered loss in these recent days,” Dr. Horne encouraged ongoing prayer “that the Lord’s peace and power and presence would be in their lives.”