Ouachita Baptist University’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community has been awarded a $210,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. The grant will help the center reach its fundraising goal of $1.05 million for the construction of a new facility to replace the Elrod Center’s current offices.
Donors already have provided gifts of more than $600,000 toward the project. Ouachita officials will finalize plans to move forward with construction once fundraising for the project is complete.
The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, a private charitable foundation established in 1948, aids Christian religious organizations, charitable organizations, institutions of higher learning, hospitals and other charitable organizations.
“The Mabee Foundation assists the work of so many colleges and universities,” said Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr. “Ouachita is fortunate once again to have a gift from this noble foundation.
“There could be no better expenditure of funds than to build a new building for the Elrod Center,” he added. “This center reaches out as our leader in service to our community and families. I am especially proud that this center of excellence bears the name of Dr. Elrod whose service to Ouachita is legendary and whose continued devotion is exemplary.”
Dr. Elrod, who served as president of Ouachita in 1988-98, helped guide the establishment of the Center for Family and Community, which trustees named in his honor upon his retirement. Operating costs for the new building will be provided through the Elrod Center endowment set up by Dr. Elrod and his family.
Describing the Elrod Center as “a hub of service,” President Horne said, “Service is a cornerstone of Ouachita. This is a hallmark of who we are as a university.”
One of the Elrod Center’s signature ministry efforts is the semi-annual Tiger Serve Day community service project. Since its start in 1997, Tiger Serve Day volunteers have donated more than 60,000 hours of service in the Arkadelphia area. Other Elrod Center initiatives include such efforts as America Reads and America Counts tutoring, ElderServe, Backyard Bible Clubs and Big Brother/Big Sister programs.
According to Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement, “The plans to construct a new Elrod Center are evidence of the strong intuitional commitment at OBU to prepare our students to become engaged members of society. The work of preparing students to serve society in transforming ways will be reinvigorated through the provision of a beautiful new building that will serve Ouachita students well into the 21st century and beyond.
“The Mabee Foundation has again demonstrated their generosity and unfailing support for the mission of Ouachita by providing a matching grant that allowed us to know with certainty that the project’s financial goal would be reached,” Cosh said. “It is a compliment to the Mabee Foundation that they will be supporting a structure on campus that will be a doorway to community service. As a foundation, they represent what it means to serve generously and sacrificially in order to empower others to serve in like manner.”
Preliminary plans for the two-story, 6,300 sq. ft. facility include two large meeting rooms for campus and community programs, conference room, observation room for applied research activities and six staff offices as well as a reception area and kitchen facilities. Project costs also will include furnishings, parking lot and landscaping.
Friends of the university who would like to contribute to the Elrod Center construction project may contact the OBU Office of Development at 870-245-5169 or www.obu.edu/give.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications