Oklahoma Baptist University

OBU Celebrates Annual “Founders’ Day”

OBU observed its annual Founders’ Day celebration during chapel services on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The event was held in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee. The Founder’s Day event is held annually to commemorate the university’s incorporation in 1910.

OBU President Dr. David Whitlock welcomed guests to the service. Dr. Linda McElroy, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies, led in the reading of Psalm 103. The University Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Brent Ballweg, Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music, then performed “Hosanna! Rejoice and Sing” by Craig Phillips.

To commemorate the event, Dr. C. Pat Taylor, Southwest Baptist University president, delivered the 2014 Founders’ Day address. Taylor served as OBU’s chief academic officer from 1986 to 1996. As senior vice president and provost, Taylor was responsible for OBU’s academics, student development, admissions, religious life, library services and athletics.

He was selected as the 24th president of SBU in 1996 and since that time, he has been instrumental in the success of the Partners in Excellence campaign and the addition of two master’s degree programs and two doctoral programs. Prior to his time at OBU, Taylor served as associate vice president for academic affairs at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., from 1979-86. From 1975-79, he was an assistant professor of education at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Dr. Taylor’s theme was “The Christian University: Is it Worth the Price?” During his speech, Taylor challenged students, faculty, staff and administration to consider the responsibilities inherent in Christian education. “Christian universities have the same responsibilities as any university; however, we must do all the things expected of any university and we must do them better. Whatever we do in the name of Christ should be done with a commitment to the highest quality,” Taylor said.

“The Christian university impacts society by doing the three basic purposes of higher education – instruction, research and providing educational services for our constituents,” Taylor said. “When the spiritual dimension is added, Christian universities provide society with graduates who have a Christian worldview, and who can make a difference in their profession and in their communities. Graduates of Christian universities are taught the importance of service and how to be servant leaders.”

Taylor demonstrated the value of Christian education and left the audience with his conclusion, “The Christian university … is it worth the price? Based on the evidence I have personally observed, I have no doubt. The answer is yes. We are worth the price.”

OBU also conferred honorary doctorate degrees upon three individuals during the Founders’ Day chapel service. Honorees included Willa Ruth Garlow, with the Doctor of Religious Education degree; Dr. Emerson Falls, with the Doctor of Divinity degree; and Linda Capps, with the Doctor of Humanities degree. OBU President Dr. David Whitlock and OBU Provost and Executive Vice President for Campus Life Dr. Stan Norman, performed the ceremonies. They were assisted by Dr. Linda McElroy.

OBU president Dr. David W. Whitlock presents the Doctor of Religious Education degree to Willa Ruth Garlow during Founders’ Day chapel.

Garlow is a motivational speaker, childhood specialist and writer. She has written curriculum materials and articles for LifeWay publications and various other magazines and periodicals. She currently is writing curriculum for the Southern Baptist Stewardship Association and devotional materials for Oklahoma Baptist Village Communities. Garlow has spoken in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and 34 states in the United States. A 1950 OBU graduate, Garlow also attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1980, she was presented OBU’s Alumni Achievement Award.

OBU president Dr. David W. Whitlock presents the Doctor of Divinity degree to Dr. Emerson Falls during Founders’ Day chapel.

Falls is a Native American of Sac & Fox and Choctaw descent. Born and raised in Oklahoma, he left to attend Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California where he earned the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. For many years he has pastored churches in California and Arizona, and most recently, Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. In 1989, Dr. Falls founded and was director of the Rocky Mountain Campus of Golden Gate Seminary, located in Denver, Colorado. He has served as president of Cook College and Theological School. Dr. Falls also became the first elected Native American to serve as President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He currently serves as the Native American Specialist for the BGCO.

OBU president Dr. David W. Whitlock presents the Doctor of Humanities degree to Linda Capps during Founders’ Day chapel.

Capps is the vice chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, holding the second top-elected position for approximately 31,000 tribal members since 1990. She worked in the education field for nearly 25 years as a high school business teacher, adult education instructor, and as a government-contracting specialist with the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Program. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (USAO) in 1975 and completed a Master of Science degree in education from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1986. She presently serves on the Board of Directors of First National Bank & Trust of Shawnee; the Gordon Cooper Technology Center Foundation; and the Oklahoma City Branch Bank of the Tenth District Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. She also serves as the chairman of two legislative committees for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation; Health & Human Services and Natural Resources.

To conclude the service, Dale Griffin, Dean of Spiritual Life, read a poem he wrote titled “Ode to the Beanie,” a tribute to the tradition of freshmen wearing green and gold OBU beanies during their first days on Bison Hill. Dr. Ken Gabrielse, dean of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts, then led in the singing of “Hymn to Alma Mater,” the official OBU alma mater.

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