OBU Board Names Presidential Search Committee

Election of a presidential search committee and approving several items of business highlighted the fall meeting of the Oklahoma Baptist University board of trustees Friday, November 30.

In their regularly scheduled meeting in OBU’s Geiger Center, the board approved by acclamation the search committee candidates submitted by a special nominating committee formed Oct. 12, following the announced retirement of former OBU President Mark Brister.

The presidential search committee includes Stephen Allen, an attorney from Tulsa; Dr. Alton Fannin, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ardmore; Lisa Fillmore, a pharmacist from Ada; Rev. Nick Garland, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow; Rev. Griff Henderson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Newalla; Bruce Sanders, pastor of North Fork Baptist Church in Eufaula; and Richard Streeter, a financial planner from Claremore.

In addition to the seven trustees, the search committee will include four ex-officio members. Those are Dr. Bill Hagen, chairman of OBU’s Faculty Council and professor of English; Abigail Jeffers, president of OBU’s Student Government Association and a senior international relations major from Tulsa; Ray Griffin, president of the OBU Alumni Association and minister of education at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; and Dr. Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Of the seven elected committee members, three are OBU graduates. Henderson and Sanders both graduated in 1984, while Allen completed a bachelor’s degree from OBU in 1995.

The committee will be charged with identifying a candidate to serve as OBU’s 15th president. The full board will be responsible for election of the new president.

“We at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma are extremely proud of Oklahoma Baptist University,” said Dr. Jordan, who has served as chief executive for the state convention since 1997. “We continue to be committed to seeing OBU move forward in the days ahead. We are excited about the processes that will go forward. I want to reaffirm our commitment to this university and to all the staff and faculty here.”

OBU trustees toured the university's Recreation and Wellness Center, which opened Nov. 28. Robert Cash, left, director of OBU's physical plant, discusses the new facility with board member Richard Streeter, a financial planner from Claremore.

Board members also heard a report from Dr. Glenn Sanders, professor of history and chair of the university’s self-study committee related to the institution’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The self-study process is completed every 10 years.

“I have been impressed by the work done on the self-study committee,” said OBU’s interim president, John W. Parrish. “The North Central accreditation is vital to us.”

In other business, the board approved the naming of OBU’s newly constructed baseball facility as “Bison Field at Ford Park.” The naming was recommended by the board’s university advancement committee in light of the financial support of the Ford family of Shawnee and Shawnee Milling Company. The family-owned company, led by former OBU trustee William L. Ford, has been a longtime supporter of the university. Shawnee Milling Co. has provided significant support for the new baseball complex on the north side of the OBU campus.

The board also approved naming of OBU’s new baseball and softball building as the “Harry E. Coates Sr. Baseball-Softball Building.” The building name was approved by the board in 2002 for a new facility constructed on University Street near Airport Road. However, construction of the new baseball field included construction of the new building to accommodate baseball and softball offices, locker rooms, and an expanded indoor practice facility. The naming process was designed to honor the financial support of Coates Roofing of Seminole, which assisted with funding construction of the initial facility.

Trustees also granted emeriti status to four former members of OBU’s faculty and staff. Johnny Cullison, retired assistant vice president for business affairs/physical plant. Cullison, who retired from OBU in 2003, was given the title of “administrator emeritus” by the board. Dr. Don Clark, professor of voice, who retired in 2002; Dr. Ron Lewis, professor of music, who retired in 2006; and Jack Pearson, associate professor of music, who retired in 2005, were each granted the title of “professor emeritus.”

Four faculty members were approved for senior faculty status, allowing continuous contracts for those faculty. Those approved were Dr. Brian Camp, associate professor of sociology; Dr. Karen Longest, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. John Powell, associate professor of history; and Dr. John Farris, associate professor of education and chair of the teacher education division.

Dr. Tom Wilks, left, is presented a certificate recognizing his distinguished service to OBU by John Parrish, OBU interim president, during the board luncheon Friday. Wilks, OBU's Huitt professor of applied ministry, joined the OBU administration in 1980. He will retire at the end of the fall semester.

Johnny Cullison, left, retired assistant vice president for business affairs/physical plant, is presented a certificate for distinguished service to OBU by John Parrish, OBU interim president, during the Friday board luncheon. Cullison and Robert Cash, director of OBU's physical plant, were recognized for their leadership during construction of OBU's Recreation and Wellness Center, and work related to expansion and renovation of the Noble Complex.