Trustees Approve January Term Changes

A long-standing Oklahoma Baptist University tradition was enhanced by the university's board of trustees Friday and the administration expects the change to produce an array of benefits for OBU students.

During its regular summer meeting on the campus, the board approved shortening the university's January Term to a three-week format. OBU officials said that by chopping a week off the session, the university will be able to offer more unique January study experience, and also start and conclude the spring semester one week earlier.

The new academic schedule will become effective in January 2010, with January Term running January 4-22 and the spring semester starting on January 25. Spring Commencement will be Saturday, May 15.

OBU President David W. Whitlock told board members the university wanted to preserve the January term for several reasons.

"It preserves the interim term allowing students and faculty to work together to stay on track for graduation within four years, which is one of our key selling points," Dr. Whitlock said, adding that academic leadership was working to offer additional innovative courses and opportunities during the compressed academic session.

OBU has operated an interim term between the fall and spring semesters for more than 25 years. Traditionally, students have used the term to either catch up on needed courses or accelerate completion of required courses. The session also has provided international study and missions experiences, including a London Studies program and short-term Global Outreach trips.

"This change preserves a January three-week time for doing mission trips, which is a very important part of who we are," Whitlock said. "It also will allow our students and faculty to complete the spring semester a week earlier, which had been problematic for summer employment or summer mission trips."

As an added incentive for students to participate in January Term studies, the university will offer free campus housing to students who live on campus the preceding fall or following spring semester and who are enrolled in at least one January Term course.

In his state-of-the-university report, Dr. Whitlock updated trustees on recent student accomplishments, and reported on a recent update OBU received from the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"I am pleased and honored to tell you that OBU still leads all universities colleges in the world in the number of alumni serving overseas as IMB missionaries," Whitlock said.

During their meeting, trustees participated in the university's strategic planning process by completing surveys and discussing the institution's current status. Whitlock, who has served as OBU's president since November 2008, said the board members' input will be utilized in crafting a long-range strategic plan for the university.

While on the campus, board members toured OBU's WMU Memorial Dormitory, which has been closed for the 2008-09 academic year for completion of a major renovation project. The facility is scheduled to open August 22 for the start of the fall semester.

The board approved contracts for three new faculty members who will join the university in the 2009-10 academic year. New faculty include Dr. Casey Gerber, assistant professor of music education; Corey Fuller, assistant professor of graphic arts; and Gerald Nixon, associate professor of accounting.

The board elected a slate of officers for the upcoming board year, which begins in mid-November. Dr. Kevin Clarkson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Moore, will serve as board chairman for a 12-month term. Dr. Reagan Bradford Sr., a medical research physician from Edmond, will serve as vice chair/chair elect of the board. Board secretary will be Scott Neighbors, pastor of worship and discipleship at the First Baptist Church of Skiatook.

Richard Streeter, a financial planner from Claremore, presided at the meeting. Streeter currently serves as chairman of the board.