Graduate Program Approval Highlights Fall Board Meeting

Approval of a new master of business administration degree program highlighted the fall meeting of Oklahoma Baptist University’s board of trustees Friday on the OBU campus in Shawnee.

The graduate program, planned to begin in the fall of 2006, will include a blend of classroom and online instruction, as well as a unique international business component.

The program courses will be offered in Oklahoma City.

“It makes sense for us to move into a larger metropolitan area for convenience,” said Dr. James P. Colman, OBU senior vice president for academic affairs, who said the program would be housed in professional office space.

Colman assured trustees that the graduate program would not adversely affect undergraduate programs at the university.

“The commitment of the administration is that we are not going to build graduate programs on the backs of our undergraduate faculty,” he said, noting plans to employ a program director and add two faculty positions.

The program was developed following extensive market research which, according to Colman, reflected that the central Oklahoma market would respond to a “distinctive” graduate program.

“Our program will offer three distinctive aspects: our Christian mission, an international experience requirement in Brazil, and a structure which is very convenient for those working on a master’s degree.”

“We are taking some risks to move OBU off Bison Hill as we further our mission,” said OBU President Mark Brister, who said the graduate program is part of a Vision 2015 10-year plan he shared with university faculty and staff last fall.

In other business, trustees affirmed the OBU administration’s progress toward construction of a new wellness center, which will be built on the current location of Clark Craig Fieldhouse.

Randy L. Smith, OBU senior vice president for business affairs, reported that the aging fieldhouse, which opened in 1948, was closed at the start of the fall semester. The facility has been emptied in preparation for demolition of the structure. Demolition is slated to begin this month and continue through January.

“We should have level dirt there by the beginning of the spring semester,” said Smith. “We expect to start construction of the wellness center in early May, following completion of the baseball and track seasons.”

Smith also said planning is under way for construction of a new baseball field on the north side of the campus, and for relocation of the university’s all-weather track. The track will be moved to the corner of Airport Road and MacArthur Street, just west of its current location. Intramural fields currently located at Airport and MacArthur will be moved east to the location of the existing track.

The board also heard varied reports on university programs, including student development activities, OBU fund-raising efforts, and campus ministry operations.

Trustees approved a two percent pay raise for OBU faculty and staff, effective January 2006. During the 2004-05 academic year, board members approved a restructured timeline for considering potential raises for faculty and staff. Moving approval of any raises to the fall board meeting allows trustees to review current budget status following fall semester enrollment reports. OBU exceeded budgeted revenue for the fall semester, leading to the recommended pay increase for faculty and staff.

Three faculty members were approved for senior faculty status, allowing continuous contracts for those faculty. Those approved were Dr. Joyce Spivey Aldridge, assistant professor of theatre; Charles Swadley, assistant professor of English and Spanish; and Dr. Randall Ridenour, assistant professor of philosophy.

Trustee Chairman Doyle Pryor moderated the meeting. Rev. Pryor is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sapulpa, Okla.