Several OBU student leaders and staff members attended the Christian Association of Student Leaders Conference Jan. 26-28 in Dallas, Texas, to gain insight into what it means to be a better student leader on Bison Hill.
The conference consisted of general session times with Dr. Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders. Elmore is well known for his best-selling book series "Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, Life Giving Mentors, and Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child." The weekend also included a Phil Wickham concert, breakout sessions and roundtable discussions.
OBU students attending the conference represented a wide variety of campus leadership. The group included leaders from OBU Athletics, Welcome Week, Residential Life, Spiritual Life, Student Government Association and Student Success.
"It was just a really good reminder what it means to be a leader in the aspect of discipleship, and that whatever leadership position I am put in, it ties into my calling by Christ to make disciples," said Jessi Masterson, a junior from Bethany, Okla.
OBU students who attended the conference said they found great value in connecting with student leaders from other universities. They found the conference offered a helpful and challenging venue to connect with peers who serve in similar leadership positions on other university campuses and to hear their perspective on applicable topics.
"It was helpful to see what my peers at other universities are doing, and it will help me take the best of those other universities and try to initiate their ideas at OBU," said Neal Ellis, a junior from Midlothian, Texas, who serves as president of OBU's Student Government Association.
Erin Black, a junior from Cassville, Mo., and member of OBU's Residential Life staff, said she found the roundtable discussions one of the most beneficial parts of the weekend.
"Being able to exchange ideas with resident assistants from other schools similar to OBU really helped me get refreshed about things that I can implement in my own life and on my hall," Black said.
OBU's dean of students, Brandon Skaggs, said he left the Christian Association of Student Leaders Conference (CASL) with an encouraged perspective from OBU's student leaders.
"Leaving CASL, I felt a synergy among student leaders that resonated a desire to change not only the OBU community, but the world," Skaggs said. "Through their own reflection, they desire to serve, which is the first step towards understanding true servant leadership, and through discipleship, build up an OBU community which is founded on creating laborers to advance God's Kingdom."
Odus Compton, director of student ministry at OBU, said the conference was beneficial not only for the student leaders on Bison Hill, but also for the staff.
"CASL proved to be a very encouraging and challenging conference for me," Compton said. "I was encouraged to meet ministry leaders from other campuses and to hear how they are living out their call on their campuses. I was challenged by the OBU students that attended and their desire to become all that they can be at OBU and to be a part of strengthening our collective power as a university."
CASL was chartered in 1998 by the eight Baptist universities in Texas to "equip student leaders intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically according to the examples set for us by Christ Jesus." Eight other Christian universities attended the conference along with OBU: Dallas Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Howard Payne University, Hardin-Simmons University, Louisiana College, Mississippi College and the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor.