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November 18, 2008
Ben Stewart, a 1999 Oklahoma Baptist University alum, recently was named director of investments for The University of Oklahoma Foundation. Stewart is the first to hold this position for the foundation.
Stewart joins the staff after nine years with The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, most recently as the vice president of investments.
"I'm incredibly excited to be there and in a campus environment again," Stewart said. "I'm walking into a position where they have not had someone before. Coming from the Baptist Foundation, I'm hoping to integrate things that I learned there."
The University of Oklahoma Foundation said in their announcement that they gained interest in Stewart as a candidate because of his history and familiarity with investments and experience in business. Stewart credits OBU and the Baptist Foundation for preparing him for his career in business.
"I'm very thankful for OBU and the Baptist Foundation," Stewart said. "They were just an incredible influence."
Stewart said that upon leaving OBU, he felt equipped to begin his work in the business field.
"I remember the first investment meeting I attended while I was still a student, and I felt familiar with the terms and knew what was going on," Stewart said. "When you leave OBU and get out into the real world, you feel like you have already been there."
Stewart continually expressed his appreciation for how the university prepared him for his career. He said with the small classroom experience and the academic opportunities which each subject offered, nothing felt out of his reach.
"I have really close friends that went to other universities, and we would take the same classes, the same semester with the same text books, and I came out knowing a lot more about the subject," Stewart said. "With the quantity of the material we covered and the depth of the subjects, I just felt like I got a much better, well-rounded understanding of my classes."
One ideal that Stewart treasured at OBU and the Baptist Foundation was the assimilation of his faith and work.
"OBU just gives you a great opportunity to learn how to integrate your faith and work together, and I got the opportunity to do that in a Christian work place after OBU, too," Stewart said. "Just watching professors and their lives, and the Baptist Student Union staff at OBU, really set an example for me."
Stewart said his professors had a monumental influence on his college experience and the beginning of his career. One professor in particular continues to guide Stewart as he further develops his work in business.
"Dr. Reeder was and still is a very close friend of mine," said Stewart, referring to Dan Reeder, OBU professor of business. "He was an incredible influence on my life, and even now I consider him my mentor. I call him first when I'm considering a big change."
Reeder shares the same respect for Stewart that his former student holds of him.
"Students like Ben don't come along very often," Reeder said. "He was just one of those students who was a natural leader, was extremely well liked by his peers, excelled in his classes and was a leader across the age group.
"Ben is guided by his Christian commitment," Reeder said. "He has always known who he is, but is always looking to grow and learn more."
Stewart thinks of his time at OBU as an unparalleled experience. But he said he also believes his development as a businessman would be incomplete without his time at the Baptist Foundation.
"At the Baptist Foundation they groomed me and taught me more about the business world," Stewart said. "I really wouldn't have had the opportunity to work for the University of Oklahoma Foundation without the opportunities that the Baptist Foundation gave me."
As Stewart begins the next chapter of his career, he hopes to integrate what he has learned from OBU and the Baptist Foundation into his new position. Stewart said he wants to apply the invaluable knowledge he learned from mentors and colleagues as he works with the foundation's endowment funds and optimistically waits for the stock market to go back up.
"Robert Kellogg [CEO and President of the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma] often says to learn how to shave on someone else's face," Stewart said. "I learned a lot from them and hopefully will be able to apply what I learned in my work now."
Stewart graduated from OBU with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He and his wife, Jeannie, currently live in Oklahoma City with their two daughters, Haley and Courtney.