A friend recently asked me why I am still doing what I am doing. After all, higher education is facing challenges within and without: cultural erosion, increasing costs, diminishing demographics and loss of honor in our society. These are real challenges, indeed!
However, I told my friend the why of what we do. We do not need to be dissuaded from our calling. Our purpose is clear: we exist to equip the next generation of future shapers to live all of life, all for Jesus.
If today’s challenges determined our tomorrows, then neither Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) nor the church would exist. For the church faces similar challenges as our university. But these challenges do not give us reason to abandon our God-given mission.
Together we are called to learn the way of Christ in all of life and to live it out loud in our world. We believe God continues to be faithful to this mission. And we see fruit of God’s faithfulness on Bison Hill!
We have engaged our future to ask where we might add positive value in our communities and in our region. Considering strategic work with our faculty and staff, as well as with state and community partners, we have leveraged our resources to launch key initiatives for growth and value. Let me mention just a few:
1. Beginning fall 2023, OBU will offer three new bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering, systems engineering and electrical engineering. Key meetings with leaders of Boeing, Tinker Air Force Base and other industry partners have proven the programs are vital for the good of our students and Oklahoma’s future engineering workforce.
2. OBU recently completed the renovation of the Sarkeys Center. This houses digital photography, media and film technology, journalism and mass communications. This key transformation supports the digital media platforms necessary to engage well in today’s world.
3. OBU has received a $3 million lead gift for the renovation of Shawnee Hall, which will begin in May 2023. This gift will help us remodel and restore the crown jewel of OBU’s campus, which houses classes in education, biblical and theological studies, sociology, psychology, counselling, language and literature, theatre and other key classes.
4. Beginning May 2023, OBU will renovate a portion of Bailey Business Center. This will include a finance and data lab that will equip our students with current industry equipment, software and research. This will provide our students with the same equipment and research that finance managers use in major stockbroker firms, preparing our students to enter the workforce ready for the future.
5. Next summer, OBU will begin renovating a portion of Wood Science Building to update lab space. This will be the first step in a more comprehensive renovation plan to support our STEM investment at OBU.
Each of these investments are offerings, prayers we offer to the Lord. We lift them up to Jesus with the faith that what is done in these places and spaces will help our faculty equip our students to leverage all of life, all for Jesus!