SHAWNEE—Oklahoma Baptist University conferred degrees upon 293 graduates during its 105th Spring Commencement Friday, May 17. The event took place in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on OBU’s campus in Shawnee. OBU Interim President Dr. Pat Taylor presided over the ceremonies.
Graduating students took a symbolic final walk across campus as OBU students before filing into Raley Chapel for the ceremony. The walk mirrored one many of the graduating students took during Welcome Week as new students at OBU. The students, in academic regalia, proceeded from the Geiger Center to the chapel, passing through rows of OBU faculty members before they reached the chapel’s east steps.
Stephen Allen, chair of OBU’s Board of Trustees and senior vice president, general counsel and assistant secretary for ONEOK, delivered the commencement address. Allen graduated magna cum laude from OBU in 1995 with a B.A. in political science. While at OBU, he was Student Government Association president, sophomore class president and a member of the President’s Honor Roll throughout college.
During the ceremony, the University awarded Marty Lewis, superintendent of Gordon Cooper Technology Center, with an honorary Doctor of Education. Lewis is an OBU alumnus, earning his undergraduate degree on Bison Hill. He is a lifelong Oklahoman, graduating high school in Dale. He earned a master’s degree in education at East Central University. Lewis has also completed additional graduate degree coursework at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma, East Central University and Oral Roberts University.
The University also presented its top three honors for faculty and staff members. Julie Blackstone, assistant professor of art, received the Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Nichole Jackson, assistant professor of nursing and simulation director, received the Promising Teacher Award. Marcia McQuerry, registrar, received the Meritorious Service Award.
The University also recognized Chancellor David W. Whitlock, retiring from the University later this month after serving as president for more than 10 years. Whitlock received a standing ovation from faculty and staff as a show of gratitude for his leadership and impact on Bison Hill.
Allen delivered a powerful message to the graduating students.
“When I considered what I wanted to say to you today,” he said, “I began to think about what I would say to that younger version of me that sat right there where you’re sitting. Knowing what I know now, what challenge could I make that would inspire you…you, the battle tested survivors of Western Civ, to combine the gifts and talents that God gave you with the skills, knowledge and work ethic that you have developed at OBU to be world changers?”
Allen then offered words of encouragement to the students.
“You will touch lives, causing impacts that last for generations. You will be world changers, and you will do this by following the example of all of the godly world changers who came before you…by being ordinary, by being weak and doing nothing. Now, I know this is just the opposite of what the world tells us to do. Society says we have to be important, powerful, accomplished, successful, that we have to be somebody.”
Allen then explained that it is through God’s power that we accomplish great things, when we allow Him to use our lives for the purposes for which He created us.
“We are here to fulfill God’s dreams, that will bring Him glory, through our remarkably abundant life.”
Allen then closed with a stirring final charge to the graduates.
“OBU class of 2019, be ordinary. Be weak and do nothing. And as a result, you’ll live a life of significance by being insignificant. You will be weak so that He can be strong. You will decrease so that He can increase. You will bear fruit by abiding with Christ. And 20 years from now, you will look back in amazement and praise at what God has accomplished through you and in you.”
To view the commencement ceremony or for more information about OBU, visit www.okbu.edu.
With its campus located in Shawnee, OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees with 88 fields of study and five master’s degree programs. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 2.011, with students from 37 states and 40 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 regional colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 27 consecutive years and has been Oklahoma’s highest rated regional college in the U.S. News rankings for 25 consecutive years. OBU is one of three universities in Oklahoma and the only private Oklahoma university listed on Great Value College’s rankings of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest. Forbes.com consistently ranks OBU as a top university in Oklahoma and the Princeton Review has named OBU one of the best colleges and universities in the western United States for 14 consecutive years.