OBU Board OKs academic reorganization
by Julie McGowan
SHAWNEE—Reorganization of Oklahoma Baptist University academic units highlighted the May meeting of OBU trustees on Friday, May 13.
The board ratified a reorganization proposal from the OBU administration which included elevating two academic schools to “college” status, dividing the OBU College of Arts and Sciences into two separate colleges, and creating a new college for theology and ministry.
The action creates the James E. Hurley College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The two units replace the College of Arts and Sciences.
The reorganization also creates the new Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry. The college incorporates six divisions into one administrative framework: the Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Studies, the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies, the Department of Christian and Cross-Cultural Ministry and the Department of Philosophy; the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach and the Don Kammerdiener Center for Missiological Research.
OBU President David W. Whitlock, in his state-of-the-university address to the board, said the structure change creating the College of Science and Mathematics will allow better representation within the academic structure, and a better-defined existence for OBU’s “highly renowned science and mathematics programs.”
The Hurley College of Science and Mathematics is named for James E. Hurley, who served on the OBU faculty from 1962-98. The noted biology professor was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2003. Hurley died in 2004.
The Hobbs College is named for Herschel H. Hobbs, longtime Southern Baptist pastor and denominational statesman, Hobbs was a prolific author, noted preacher and radio program host. He was pastor of Oklahoma City, First from 1949-72. He died in 1995.
Whitlock said the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry will give a clearer structure for the programs within the college. The action brings the long-standing Joe L. Ingram School of Christian Service into a comprehensive academic unit which includes the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach and the Don Kammerdiener Center for Missiological Research.
“These centers started in 2005 as parts of OBU’s Campus Ministry programs, with dotted lines to the academic side of our house,” Whitlock said. “By approving the proposal, we benefit from a new academic emphasis for these global outreach enterprises.”
The overall reorganization resulted in seven major academic divisions: the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, the James E. Hurley College of Science and Mathematics, the College of Nursing, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry; the Paul Dickinson College of Business and the OBU Graduate School.
The board meeting began with the presentation of an address written by the late Alan Day, former vice chairman of the board of trustees, who died in a motorcycle accident on Feb. 16. Day, longtime pastor of Edmond, First, was scheduled to present the address during Founders’ Day at OBU during the spring semester.
Stan Norman, OBU provost and executive vice president for campus life, read the address to the full board.
“Oklahoma Baptist University was founded by people committed to a specific vision and a sacred mission animated by deep convictions,” Day wrote. He noted three “foundational principles” in the address: that OBU is a “child of the Baptist churches of Oklahoma;” that “a consistent Christian worldview will be embraced and advocated” in every area of the university; and that OBU “exists as an extension of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.”
Day concluded that “life and cultural transformation through the serious search for and engagement with the truth has been the mission of OBU from the beginning.”
“As I stand here this morning, I want to reiterate the challenge which poured out of every pause in that address,” Whitlock said in his remarks to the board. He noted that Day stressed OBU founders believed the “universe is saturated with purpose.”
“If that is true for a universe where man can choose to live apart from God, how much more does it apply to a Christian liberal arts university where we are seeking to live by the Spirit?” Whitlock said. “Alan understood the kind of contribution a Christian university can make in the world today.”
Trustees unanimously passed a “resolution of appreciation for the life of R. Alan Day” during the meeting, noting Day was a “tireless supporter of OBU” and “a faithful churchman committed to Christian higher education.”
In other action, trustees approved the university’s strategic objectives for the 2011-12 academic year. The annual objectives correspond to seven major objectives listed in OBU 2020, the institution’s long-range strategic plan.
The board ratified promotions for four faculty members. Jerry Faught, who joined the faculty in 2001, was promoted from associate professor of religion to professor of religion. Nathan Malmberg, who joined the faculty in 2005, was promoted from associate professor of biochemistry to professor of biochemistry. Kristen Stauffer Todd, who joined the faculty in 1999, was promoted from associate professor of music and humanities to professor of music and humanities. Karen Youmans, who joined the faculty in 1999, was promoted from associate professor of English to professor of English.
Board members also approved contracts for seven new faculty members. New faculty include Tawa Anderson, assistant professor of philosophy; R. Bruce Carlton, professor of applied ministry; Mary Chung, assistant professor of piano; Elena Foulis, assistant professor of Spanish; Sam Freas, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies; Christian Timothy George, assistant professor of religion; and Randolph Burge Johnson, assistant professor of music theory.
Reagan Bradford Sr., chair of the 33-member board, moderated the meeting. Bradford, who resides in Edmond, is a medical research physician, and a member of Oklahoma City, Northwest.
Julie McGowan is news & media relations director at Oklahoma Baptist University.