Editor's Note: OBU alumna Susan Wooten, a 1974 graduate, is a 2014 recipient of the OBU Alumni Association's Profile In Excellence Award. The award is given to a former student who has "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University." Each year, Profile In Excellence recipients are featured in OBU Magazine.
A Lifetime of Learning
When Susan (Baker) Wooten, '74, was in junior choir at First Baptist Church, Ada, Oklahoma, her music minister brought the choir to a festival at OBU. Wooten recalls falling in love with the campus before she really understood what a college was.
"OBU was the right choice for me, and that decision was foundational in refining values and guiding decisions across the scope of my life," she said. "At OBU, I became convinced that relationships, ideas and faith are what give life meaning and purpose."
"The faculty had just completed a significant effort to craft a new general education program, Unified Studies, as we arrived in 1970," she said. "It was very progressive for the time, and the habits of mind it cultivated in me have persisted to this day."
After graduating from OBU, she earned her master's degree in fine arts in painting and drawing from Clemson University in 1977. She began as an adjunct art faculty member at Anderson University, a Baptist institution in South Carolina, and joined the faculty full-time in 1980. As a professor, she developed and taught courses in many different art disciplines, leading the growth in the art department. She currently serves as vice provost and professor of art at Anderson.
"I have had opportunities to learn many new things in my work at Anderson," she said. "With good mentors on the faculty and in the administration, over time I developed expertise in faculty development, curriculum development, assessment and institutional effectiveness, and academic policies."
"Although I work as much with faculty and staff as with students at this point in my current job, the joy of my work has always been the students," she said. "Seeing a student develop across four years in the art program energized and rejuvenated me. Seeing students try and fail and try again and eventually master some skill or new concept brings a high level of reward."
She is universally admired on the Anderson campus, as evidenced by the establishment of the Susan B. Wooten Fund for Art Majors, a need based scholarship endowed through private donations in 2012.
Along with teaching and administration, she has remained active in the studio during most of her professional career. "The longer I remain in administration, the more the studio work helps me maintain my sanity," she laughed. "When my work in administration comes to an end at retirement in a few years, I look forward to spending more time in the studio."
Wooten credits her time at OBU with laying the foundation for her success. "The faculty at OBU set high standards, challenged us to meet those standards and supported us as we tried," she said.
"The faculty and staff modeled commitment. They encouraged me to ask questions and seek answers that I could clearly articulate. There were so many smart and talented students at OBU, I learned about quality by seeing it demonstrated by those around me on a day-to-day basis."
Wooten and her husband, Bill, live in Clemson, South Carolina. She serves as a trustee and is active in the chancel choir and personnel ministry team at First Baptist Church of Clemson.