Alum, Former Administrator Merl Jennings Dies

Dr. Merl Jennings, Oklahoma Baptist University almnus and former vice president of student development, died Aug. 12, 2009, following a long illness. He was 68.

Jennings was a 1964 OBU graduate who led OBU's Career Planning Center from its inception in 1984 until 1986. The center was designed by Dr. Bob R. Agee, who served as OBU president from 1982-98, to consolidate career planning and graduate placement for the University. Agee selected Jennings to lead the center. Jennings also served as associate dean of students.

In 1986, Jennings assumed the role of vice president of student development on Bison Hill. He served in that capacity until he resigned from OBU in February 1993. He retired in Creede, Colo., where he was an active community volunteer.

"Merl Jennings was a good colleague, well respected and very personable," John Parrish, OBU executive vice president emeritus. "He made an important contribution to the life of OBU, serving in the student development area where he was well liked by students and co-workers."

Following his graduation as a history major from OBU in 1964, Jennings earned a master's degree in secondary administration from Central State University in 1967 and a doctorate degree in secondary education from the University of Oklahoma in 1985.

During his years in Shawnee, Jennings was a member of University Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and sang in the choir. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Shawnee, and he served on the board of directors of the Pottawatomie County American Red Cross and the Shawnee Salvation Army.

Jennings' career in education began as a classroom teacher from 1964-68 at Webster Junior High School and North Classen High School in Oklahoma City where he taught junior high social studies, coached seventh-grade basketball and taught high school American history, sociology and psychology. He served as assistant to the director of secondary education for Oklahoma City Public Schools from 1968-69, then as assistant principal for Rogers Middle School in Oklahoma City from 1969-72. He served as principal of Washington Irving Middle School in Norman, Okla., from 1972-74, and as director of transportation for Norman Public Schools from 1974-75. He served as principal of West Mid-High School in Moore, Okla., from 1975-81.

He launched career development work as vice president of Joy Reed Belt & Associations from 1981-82. His work involved screening candidates for professional positions and placing candidates with corporations. From 1982-84, he was sole proprietor and manager of Atlas Personnel Consultants in Midwest City, Okla., a role in which he was responsible for all phases of operating a small business in career development.

Jennings served in bi-vocational ministry during his career: From 1960-62, he was minister of music and youth at Sharon Baptist Church in Tecumseh, Okla.; from 1966-70, minister of music and youth at South Lindsay Baptist Church in Oklahoma City; from 1970-75, minister of music and youth at Blue Lakes Baptist Church in Norman; from 1975-77, minister of music, education and youth at Del View Baptist Church in Del City, Okla.; and from 1977-83, pastor of Blue Lakes Baptist Church.