OBU is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Heath Thomas as dean of the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and associate vice president for church relations. Thomas will assume his duties effective Dec. 1.
Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at OBU, with a minor in Bible. He earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He then earned a Ph.D. in Old Testament from the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, United Kingdom.
He currently serves as associate professor of Old Testament & Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He likewise serves as the director of Ph.D. studies and as general editor of the "Southeastern Theological Review."
OBU president Dr. David W. Whitlock believes that God directed the search process to the right man to serve as dean of the Hobbs College. "We are excited to welcome Dr. Thomas to the OBU community and look forward to his leadership of the Hobbs College. His passion for our University as an alumnus, coupled with his knowledge of God's word and dedication to the Lord's service, make him an ideal candidate. He is well suited to lead graduates from the Hobbs College in ministry preparation for service in these challenging times. I'm excited to see where his vision takes the Hobbs College into the future. I'm equally excited to see where his leadership will take OBU in our church relations efforts. This dual role will help the Hobbs College expand and train more Christian leaders beyond our campus, making a global impact for training leaders for Christ."
Dr. Stan Norman, provost and executive vice president for campus life, is grateful to have found such a fitting candidate to fill this leadership role within the Hobbs College. "I am pleased to welcome Dr. Heath Thomas to OBU," he said. "Dr. Thomas has an understanding of the ministry needs and opportunities within our state, nation and world. He has the mind of a scholar, the heart of a pastor, and the hands of servant. Having spent part of his formative years in Oklahoma, Heath understands Oklahoma Baptists and the ministry challenges that regularly confront our BGCO churches. This background will greatly assist him in his role as church relations officer within our state and beyond. His ministry experiences have instilled within him the importance of reaching the nations with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am confident that his vision and leadership will impart that same passion in the hearts of our students. As a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, Heath understands the value of a Christian liberal arts education and the contribution that the Hobbs College makes in serving the curricular needs of our university. We are blessed to have Dr. Heath Thomas returning to OBU 'for such a time as this.'"
Thomas is anxious to come back to his alma mater to lead the Hobbs College. "This is an exciting time in theological education, and OBU is a wonderful place to train men and women for teaching and ministerial service," he said. "As an alumnus of this university, the thought of coming back to serve was almost too good to be true. But God in his goodness opened this door, and we were happy to walk through it."
"I look forward to serving our students, faculty and administration as we seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through education in a liberal arts context," he said. "Teaching is a great privilege and an enormous responsibility. Future generations of pastors, teachers and leaders will come through our college, and we enjoy the privilege of walking with them for a while, influencing them for God and for good. What could be more exciting?"
Thomas sees the reach of the Hobbs College expanding far beyond the campus and the state. "The Hobbs College has the opportunity to build from the foundation of our 'patron saint,' Dr. Herschel Hobbs. He was a scholar and churchman and helped to shape an entire generation of Baptists. It is my aim and desire to carry that vision into the 21st century. Dr. Hobbs had national influence although he was rooted in Oklahoma. The Hobbs College can do the same: Oklahoma roots, national reach."
Thomas has a distinct vision for both of his roles. "As dean of the Hobbs College, I am thrilled to work with our outstanding faculty and set the vision, direction and administration for the training of our students. I envision world-class education for our students, and for this to be done well, we all need to work together. Our priority is service and teaching done under the lordship of Jesus, our model of excellence and our foundation for all things. As the associate vice president for church relations, I look forward to building on the wonderful relationship OBU has with our Baptist churches. Herschel Hobbs knew that the best theological questions grow from the soil of the church, and the fruit of the academy is given as nourishment for the church. We will continue to serve our churches and partner with them to train men and women for the challenges of the 21st century."
Thomas and his wife, Jill, have four children and a giant Weimaraner dog named Smokey. Jill holds a BSN with an RN from the University of Texas at Arlington and a bachelor's degree in community health from Texas A&M. Thomas grew up in Texas and Oklahoma, and his father served as a pastor for 40 years. Thomas has likewise served on staff in four churches in Oklahoma, Texas and the United Kingdom. He currently serves as the interim pastor at Duke Memorial Baptist Church and as an elder at the Summit Church. He has a passion for teaching and writing, and in his spare time, he enjoys fly-fishing for trout.