Helping prepare Ouachita Baptist University for future growth and impact, university trustees reviewed an interim report addressing Ouachita’s new five-year strategic plan during their quarterly board meeting March 9.
The 26-page interim report, presented by Ouachita President Ben Sells on behalf of the University Planning Committee, summarized work done by the committee over the past several months in preparation for a full report to be presented later this year. The new strategic plan will succeed Ouachita’s previous five-year strategic plan, “Fostering Foresight and Faithfulness,” which was adopted in 2012.
“The Ouachita mission, when considered in the light of the needs and hopes of this nation and world, is more relevant than ever before,” the interim report states. “We can imagine, Lord willing, graduating greater numbers of Ouachitonians who have been anchored in the context of our Christ-centered identity: attracted by graduate and other innovative programs; supported by committed faculty and staff; strengthened by partnerships with alumni and friends; and transformed by their learning experiences to serve the purposes of God in their generation through their families, churches, communities and careers across the country and around the world.”
Trustees spent time evaluating proposed strategic directions for the university in preparation for ongoing work by the Planning Committee and others to finalize the proposal.
In a related report, Dr. Deborah Root, Ouachita’s assessment coordinator, shared an update on Ouachita’s upcoming accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission. Criteria for accreditation include a focus on the university’s mission, ethical conduct, quality education, student learning and institutional resources, structures and processes.
Ouachita, which was reaccredited in 2011 by the Higher Learning Commission, was first accredited in 1927. Ouachita has held continuous academic accreditation since 1952.
Dr. Keldon Henley, vice president for institutional advancement, reported that current enrollment trends continue to look positive for the fall 2017 semester. He said recent initiatives include hosting a President’s Leadership Forum for high school seniors, development of the Discover program for prospective students undecided about their future major and a strategic search initiative aimed at identifying and interacting with prospective students interested in a private, liberal arts university such as Ouachita.
In a series of personnel-related actions, trustees granted emeritus status to Dr. Joe Jeffers, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry; Julia Jones, Assistant Professor Emerita of Spanish; and Charolette Allison, Executive Secretary to the President Emerita.
Dr. Jeffers, a 1966 Ouachita graduate, has served as his alma mater since 1972. Dr. Jeffers served 10 years as the founding dean of Ouachita’s Patterson School of Natural Sciences. He has held two endowed chairs, the W.D. and Alice Burch Chair of Chemistry from 1995 to 2003 and the Charles S. And Elma Grey Goodwin Holt Chair of Chemistry and Pre-Medical Studies from 2013 to the present.
Jones, a graduate of Henderson State University, has taught Spanish at Ouachita since 2001. She previous taught English and Spanish at several high schools as well as at Rich Mountain Community College and Cossatot Community College.
Allison, a former Ouachita student, has served in the president’s office since 1986, working in the administrations of Dr. Daniel Grant, Dr. Ben Elrod, Dr. Andy Westmoreland, Dr. Rex Horne, Dr. Charles Wright and Dr. Ben Sells.
President Sells announced that Tracey Knight will succeed Allison as executive assistant to the president effective June 1. Knight, a former Ouachita student, has served since 2000 as administrative assistant for the Pruet School of Christian Studies.
Jackson Guerra was approved as strength and conditioning assistant football coach. Guerra, a 2013 Ouachita graduate, previously was a teacher and coach at Mount Ida High School.
In other personnel actions, trustees approved several promotion, tenure and sabbatical recommendations.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU vice president for communications
March 16, 2017