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Whitlock Emphasizes Importance of 'Learned Life'

August 31, 2011

OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock challenged students and faculty to consider the importance of "The Learned Life in Uncertain Times" during the Fall Convocation Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the University's Raley Chapel.

Three faculty members -- Dr. R. Bruce Carlton, Dr. Christian T. George and Dr. R. Scott Pace -- were installed to endowed academic positions in OBU's Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry during the 10 a.m. event.

The Convocation signaled the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year on Bison Hill. As students and faculty launch into the new semester, Whitlock encouraged them to resolve that one of the greatest duties of life is to learn -- even to learn well among the difficulties, stresses and sorrows that accompany life at a time of great global and economic uncertainty.

"There is a crisis in learning today, and we must admit it and not trick ourselves into thinking that mere activity is the same as transformational learning," Whitlock said. "It is not, and we must be careful to seek the latter."

Whitlock said in a day when universities are asked to define their purpose, members of the OBU community should consider why they are on Bison Hill and the importance of being engaged in the university.

"We must get comfortable with the fact that what we do here is countercultural," Whitlock said, noting he was not promoting some sort of sectarian practice disconnected from the real world. "What we do here is stare reality in the face and believe, by God's grace, that we can change it. We wrestle with the weighty matters of life and believe we can be in the world yet not of it. We dare believe that we can engage a diverse world of epic challenges and make a difference."

Whitlock said while many in the secular academy are fixated on research divorced from meaning and lack of purpose, such a problem does not exist at OBU.

"The great privilege of teaching, research and discovery in the distinctively Christian academy, however, is our ability -- our expectation -- to find truth, declare it and build upon it," he said. "We teach truth. We research to discover truth. Therefore, our scholarship is of innate value and purpose."

Whitlock charged every student to work hard and realize the privilege afforded to study on Bison Hill. He implored every faculty member to teach with the knowledge that their task is critical to the students' lives. He asked every staff member to carry out responsibilities with a sense of divine appointment.

"What you do here matters," he emphasized, noting OBU is in the business of glorifying God through learning.

The three installations to academic positions highlighted the Convocation ceremony. At OBU, endowed chairs and professorships are awarded to select professors who are outstanding teachers and who have demonstrated exceptional ability in their academic disciplines. The gift which provides an endowed academic position is invested in the University's permanent endowment fund, and the annual earnings are used to assist with compensation. OBU currently has 27 active endowed chairs and professorships.

Carlton, who joined the OBU faculty in 2011, was installed as the fifth recipient of the WMU Professorship in Missions. He earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown Baptist College; a master's degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; a master's degree from Azusa Pacific University; and his doctorate from the University of South Africa in Pretoria.

Dr. Bruce Carlton (right) is installed as the fifth recipient of the WMU Professorship in Missions at OBU.

Carlton comes to OBU with more than 20 years of field experience with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He and his wife, Gloria, lived and served in Hong Kong, Cambodia, India and Singapore during their missionary career. Carlton is well-respected as a missionary trainer and remains involved in training missionaries and church planters around the globe. Recently, Carlton served as an associate professor of missions and departmental coordinator at Boyce College. The Carltons have been married for 33 years and have two grown daughters and one granddaughter.

The WMU Professorship in Missions is funded through the state missions offering of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The primary focus of the offering includes media, church planting, evangelism, ministry to church leadership, missions and ministries, and community and Christian Life issues. The WMU champions this particular offering allocation for OBU.

In 1888, a handful of women dedicated to the cause of missions founded Woman's Missionary Union. From the beginning, WMU's main purpose has been to educate and involve women, girls and preschoolers in the cause of Christian missions.

George, who joined the OBU faculty in 2011 as assistant professor of biblical and theological studies, was installed as the third recipient of the Jewell and Joe L. Huitt assistant professor of applied ministry. He earned his bachelor's degree from Samford University; his master of divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School; and his doctorate from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

Dr. Christian George (right), assistant professor of biblical and theological studies at OBUy, is installed as the third recipient of the Jewell and Joe L. Huitt assistant professor of applied ministry.

A speaker in churches throughout North America and Europe, George also has engaged in missions work in more than 30 countries. He served as a member of the Teller's Committee of the SBC and is a member of the Worship and Spirituality Commission of the Baptist World Alliance. He has attended BWA meetings in South Korea, Sweden, Germany, Canada and England. He is a published author and writes curriculum for LifeWay Christian Resources. His wife, Rebecca, is the resident director of Taylor Residence Center and West University Apartments at OBU.

Joe and Jewell Davis Huitt were married in 1928. Both attended Southwest Missouri State Teachers College in Springfield, and they taught in a small country school in Stone Hill, Mo., for one year before moving to Oklahoma in the early 1950s. Joe's career in the oil industry rose from a roustabout to a purchasing agent for Buffalo Oil Co. before becoming an independent oil producer in 1961. He was a member of Independent Petroleum Association of America and Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. He was president of Tulsa Engineers Society in 1953-54 and Tulsa Purchasing Agents in 1958.

The Huitts were active members of Southern Baptist churches all their lives. Jewell worked with a variety of church educational programs, and Joe served as a deacon, trustee, Sunday school superintendent and department director. He also served on the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he was a Gideon. The Huitts have a daughter, Joanne, and a grandson, Justin. Huitt provided the endowed gift in memory of his late wife in recognition of her lifelong interest and involvement in religious education through her local church.

Pace, who joined the OBU faculty in January 2010, was installed as the first recipient of the Rev. A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry. He earned a bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University; a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a doctorate from Southeastern Seminary. From 2003-05, he served as a teaching fellow at the seminary.

Dr. Scott Pace (center) is installed as the first recipient of the Rev. A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry at OBU.

In the local church, Pace served for more than a decade as a student pastor, associate pastor of doctrine and, most recently, as teaching pastor and administrator at the First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla. He previously served as a corporate accountant and in the private sector as a business manager. He has served in international missions in Malaysia, Kenya, Mexico, Jordan and Puerto Rico. He also served as a worship speaker for World Changers mission projects through the North American Mission Board. He and his wife, Dana, have three children: Gracelyn, Tyler and Tessa.

OBU alumna Alta Faye Hughes Van Sickle provided an endowed gift in honor of her parents, the Reverend A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes, to support a professorship chair in Christian ministry. The gift also supplements an existing endowed scholarship benefiting OBU students. The Reverend A.E. and Dora Johnson Hughes Endowed Scholarship provides financial support for OBU students preparing for the pastorate or music ministry.

Born in Tillman County, Okla., in 1897, Alter Eli Hughes was a Southern Baptist pastor and missions leader in Oklahoma and Texas. He attended Decatur Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1917 he married Dora Johnson in Elbert, Texas. After his death in 1958, Mrs. Hughes returned to Frederick and was a longtime member of First Baptist Church Frederick, Okla.

Faye Hughes Van Sickle attended OBU as a member of the Class of 1947 and also attended the University of Hawaii. She fulfilled her goal of becoming a licensed private pilot and was employed by General Dynamics for 20 years. She was married to Col. Charles T. Moreland until his death in 1980. In 1987, Faye married Maj. Gen. Neil Van Sickle. She died in Kalispell, Mont., on Jan. 13, 2010, at the age of 85. She was close to her family, including her brother, Wayne Hughes; her nephew, J. Randy Hughes; and her nieces, Elaine Kennedy and Paula Carpenter.

The full Convocation text is available here.