Over the next decade, Oklahoma Baptist University will implement initiatives addressing quality of life, academic programs and services, marketing and enrollment management, student services, resource development, faculty development, and community outreach and involvement that serve the greater good.
Imagine driving onto a beautiful campus recognized as one of the region's finest arboretums. Driving from either the east or west on Midland Street, visitors, students and employees enjoy tree-lined walkways as they turn north onto Raley Drive. Apartment-style housing lines both sides as one makes his way underneath a stately arch and grand entrance to the campus. Crossing under the archway, one is met with manicured green spaces and a magnificent view of the signature building of the University, Raley Chapel.
The road turns right giving a glimpse of the Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC) and the Noble Complex for Athletics to the left. University Street is closed to traffic from Airport Road. Driving east on University and passing Kerr Residence Hall on the left and the new nursing building, the School of Christian Service in Montgomery Hall and the Bailey Business Center on the right, one turns onto the oval replete with seasonal plantings, the fountain, the bison statue and Centennial Plaza.
A newly expanded Wood Science Building that houses additional labs and the mathematics department is on the right. Next on the right is Thurmond Hall, with a renovated second floor housing a new Welcome Center and Academic Center. Anchoring the north end of the oval is a renovated Shawnee Hall, equipped with multimedia rooms and the latest technologies for education. After driving past WMU Residence Hall and back onto University Street, one drives west and turns back north on Raley Drive past the RAWC, Noble, the completed track and field complex lined with brick and wrought iron fence, the intramural fields on the left, and the Chapel and then the advancement offices on the right. Ahead are the varsity fields and faculty housing. At the intersection of Raley and MacArthur, one can see the expanded MacArthur Apartments to the left. Turning right, there is Taylor Residence Center and a new performing arts theater. Moving back to the north, a winding road leads one through large park-like spaces with ponds, trees, and walking and running trails, ultimately leading to a new street running from Kickapoo past the new baseball and softball parks to a north entry to Unity
Signage, lighting and architecture are reminiscent of an Ivy League academic setting; university-owned electric cars and Segways glide silently along pathways transporting prospective students and University employees. The entire campus is a mix of excitement, anticipation and peaceful, quiet places. Students gather on wide open green spaces playing guitars, faculty and students share with each other as they walk to a renovated student union to relax, eat, and fellowship. A beautiful walkway of arches and columns leads students between the Geiger Center and the Sarkeys Telecommunication Center, linking the main campus with the Raley Chapel area.
All spaces throughout the campus are accessible by the latest communication and wireless technologies. Students also can wander through the campus in a virtual reality environment as they study at OBU from their homes throughout the world. Faculty search processes reveal a large number of well-qualified applicants, many with national reputations who seek to specifically serve at OBU. There is an environment of trust and mutual respect among employees and a sense that our mission is central to all we do. Everything about the campus speaks to excellence, learning, and quality.
Oklahoma Baptist University is thriving in its second century. With a growing enrollment, highly motivated faculty and employees committed to the mission, OBU is the preferred place to study, learn, and invest your life. By 2020, OBU will be well on its way to achieving this vision, including having accomplished the following.
OBU is nationally and internationally recognized through centers of excellence. These centers of excellence include music, education, theology, church recreation, and faith and discipline integration. Through existing and future centers, OBU will be recognized for:
• Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach: Founded in 2007, this Center will be nationally recognized as a leader in research and preparation for missions, including working closely with undergraduate and graduate students in intercultural and orality studies. OBU students will be educated so that in all disciplines a sound grasp and appreciation for international issues and cultural sensitivity is obligatory. Every college and academic program will be proactive to ensure that students are prepared to serve and lead in an ever-increasing global environment. Every academic college will work with the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach to implement at least one international, cross-cultural experience for their students that integrates missional or service-oriented projects.
• Center for Faith Integration: This center would be at the heart of the OBU mission, providing faculty, staff, and student development activities to promote and lead the effort of integrating faith and discipline. The center would sponsor workshops and summer institutes featuring speakers of national prominence.
• Center for Excellence in Teacher Education: With a focus on teachers and students preparing for careers as teachers, this center would host an online journal featuring research that benefits teacher education programs and home school educators nationwide. It also would host yearly seminars and other outreach activities that bring Oklahoma teachers to the OBU campus.
• Center for Sports and Recreation Leadership: This center, with initial funding from the BGCO already secured, will become the premier resource for sports and recreation leaders and will work closely with Lifeway Christian Resources.
• Baptist Center: This center would incorporate a "Pastors School" each summer for OBU students, Oklahoma Baptist pastors and families, as well as OBU alumni, featuring workshops and activities on the OBU campus specifically designed to minister to ministers. Working with the BGCO and other entities, a speakers series featuring outstanding Christian leaders would be offered for ministers and current students.
OBU is nationally recognized as a Christ-centered, innovative university known for excellent academics and faith integration in both graduate and undergraduate education. The graduate programs of the University will target new and innovative academic areas based upon a vibrant liberal arts foundation. These programs will include new degrees in the following areas as well as other fields of study and preparation consistent with our mission and new environments:
- Theology and Ministry
- Allied Health Fields
- Counseling - Marriage and Family Therapy
OBU's capital campaign efforts have increased OBU's endowment to four times its annual budget over the next 15-20 years, and have established:
- Endowments for student scholarships including instituting a scholarship program specifically designed for students who are members of Oklahoma Baptist churches;
- An endowed faculty development program for continued education, and professional and scholarly activities;
- At least one endowed professorship or chair in every academic department;
- An endowed missions program, with the goal of assisting students and faculty financially with international travel;
- Endowment of the first-year experience program for entering freshmen with funds for student enrichment activities;
As tuition rates at private Christian universities rise to cover the increasing costs of education, the necessity of fundraising takes on greater significance. Raising funds for student scholarships is critical to making OBU financially accessible. By 2020, OBU has added an additional $20 million to its scholarship endowment. Increased and additional performance-based and leadership scholarships will have been added to the endowment. Specific scholarships targeting Oklahoma Baptist ministers' dependents and students preparing for full time Christian vocations will be provided so that in addition to need-based state and national grant programs, sufficient financial aid and scholarships provide for a minimum of half of the tuition costs. Competitive scholarships for missionary dependents will be provided so that in addition to need-based state and national grant programs, sufficient financial aid and scholarships provide for full tuition costs.
OBU's campus master plan incorporates the most advanced technologies and instructional tools available. This master plan includes a renovated library and learning center with an expanded student success center, study areas, and learning resources. The master plan incorporates new avenues of apartment-style student housing; and addresses environmental stewardship and sustainability with new and improved facilities for student housing, nursing, theology and ministry programs, and music and performing arts.
The University's redesigned Welcome Center is inviting, exciting, and immediately attracts prospects to be a part of the OBU Story. Marketing efforts, a highly interactive Web site and innovative outreach to prospective students have resulted in an enrollment of more than 3,000 students.
OBU has a newly designed area housing all academic services including a welcome center, enrollment management, retention, registrar services, and financial aid services. The University will have another student services area including the dean of student life offices, a health and counseling center, and a center for career placement and counseling.
Student housing at OBU is ranked very high by prospective students in their decision to attend. Residential housing will include additional apartment-style facilities, a planned renovation schedule for all facilities, and a remodeled and redesigned Agee Residence Center that accommodates dormitory-style, quad-style, and private room and bath options. International student enrollment and increased racial and ethnic diversity will add to the richness of university life and reflect the diversity of the state and region.
OBU has established a formal program of faculty development that offers competitive funding for research, grant applications, and other scholarly activities. OBU will increase the number of endowed professorships by ten. A robust and competitive sabbatical program will be implemented that funds three to five sabbaticals per year.
OBU employs faculty and staff who are among the best compensated among member institutions of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities (IABCU) and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Faculty salaries are in the upper quartile of IABCU and CCCU member schools. OBU will have implemented a formal system for faculty compensation based on criteria that includes educational preparation, rank, experience, market factors, professional development and commitment to mission. Benefits and employee services will be among the best of OBU's sister institutions.
Faculty development and scholarly activities at OBU directly contribute to the high value placed on classroom teaching. Faculty scholarship engages students in research projects and creative arts. Students benefit greatly as they engage one-on-one with a faculty member toward a common scholastic or artistic goal, and as they have opportunities to share their research and creative works at annual conferences and art festivals.
A University Press that has gained a national reputation for relevant mission-appropriate publications will be publishing three to seven books per year and will publish at least two academic journals online. This self-supporting enterprise would establish a mission statement focused on publishing works that advance scholarship and bring recognition to authors and to the University. A particular publishing focus will be for textbooks and other works that promote faith integration as well as books of general interest to Christian audiences.
OBU is identified as a leader in community outreach and involvement with specific targeted programs that reach area school systems, home school families, and the general public. OBU programs in service and learning that reach underserved and impoverished individuals will be a model for other institutions. Environmental stewardship and creation care initiatives will be cited regionally and nationally including new facility construction and remodeling with specific goals to include conservation and green efforts. By 2020 the OBU campus will be regionally recognized as one of the top arboretums in the state.