OBU presented its highest faculty and staff honors during the university’s 102nd Spring Commencement May 13. OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock presented the awards before an overflow audience of more than 1,800 in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Each year during Spring Commencement, OBU presents three important awards to recognize quality teaching and faithful, productive service: the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Meritorious Service Award and the Promising Teacher Award. Nominations for the awards are made by alumni, current students, faculty and administration. In addition to public recognition and a token of the university’s appreciation, the recipients receive cash awards provided by OBU graduates John and Janet Hudson of Edmond, Oklahoma.
Dr. Louima Lilite, associate professor of music, received OBU’s Distinguished Teaching Award. The highest honor for OBU faculty members, this award is presented to a faculty member who has taught at OBU for five consecutive years or more. This faculty member has exemplified in his or her teaching career those characteristics of superior instruction delineated in the “Commitment to Excellence,” a statement of teaching expectations and objectives adopted by OBU’s faculty, administration and Board of Trustees.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said Lilite has earned the respect and admiration of his peers and his pupils, demonstrating excellence at every turn.
“One nominator said of him that ‘Dr. Lilite is deeply loved by his colleagues and students. His priority is glorifying Christ, and it is clearly evident in his expectations and love for his students,’” Whitlock said.
Lilite joined the OBU faculty in the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts in 2008 and currently serves as associate professor of music. He earned a Bachelor of Music in music performance in voice and piano from Biola University Conservatory of Music. He then earned a Master of Music in voice performance and pedagogy from Penn State University. He later earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in voice performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music. Prior to his appointment at OBU, he was a member of the voice faculty at Houghton College and Nazareth College, and a teaching assistant at the Eastman School of Music. He has taught, lectured, and coached in the United States and overseas in private lessons, master classes, seminars, and summer workshops. He is the coordinator of the annual North Haiti Music Camp in Limbé, Haiti. He has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and Orchestra, the OBU Shawnee Community Orchestra, the Biola Conservatory Chorale and Orchestra, and the Penn State University Chorus and Orchestra, among many others. He was the recipient of the 2010 Promising Teacher Award and has previously received the Seven Who Care Award presented by SGA.
Bill Pope, OBU’s staff photographer, received OBU’s Meritorious Service Award. This award is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has made a substantial commitment of years and service, and who has been a loyal and faithful faculty or staff member.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said Pope’s work has been crucial in promoting the University and documenting its history for more than a quarter of a century.
In quoting one of Pope’s nominators for the award, Whitlock said, “Not one who enjoys the spotlight, Bill humbly documents OBU's history through his gift of photography.” Whitlock cited another nominator, who stated, “Bill’s tireless service and dedication to OBU for more than 26 years is a shining example of what this award is all about. From the mind of God, through the lens of the Pope, to the hearts of all Bison…his images will endure and serve as a record of more than a quarter century of our University’s history.”
Pope joined the OBU staff in 1990 and is retiring at the end of May after 26 years of service to the University. He currently serves as OBU’s staff photographer. He earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts in communication from Regent University. A native of Georgia, he has captured more than a quarter of a century of iconic moments on Bison Hill, from commencement ceremonies to presidential inaugurations; from theatre performances to CAB shows; from “The Walk” during Welcome Week to quiet moments during worship in Raley Chapel. His lens has captured it all. Outside of his work on campus, he is a renowned cattle photographer, having published hundreds of photos, including more than 90 on the cover of “Cattle Today” magazine. In 2012, he published the book, “The Voice in the Wilderness.”
Dr. Tawa Anderson, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the honors program, received OBU’s Promising Teacher Award. This award is presented to a junior faculty member who has taught at OBU less than six years, has demonstrated outstanding potential as a teacher and has exhibited the characteristics of one who may be a future recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
In presenting the award, Whitlock said Anderson is a shining example of what it means to teach at OBU.
In quoting from a nominator, Whitlock said, “Dr. Anderson is a scholar who is an expert in his field. He is so well regarded that he has served as a visiting professor at a school in Canada and at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His classes are well attended and students love him. He regularly host events at his home for students and faculty to come eat and discuss philosophy. He pours himself into his students and nobody can deny his genuine Christlike love for them.”
Anderson joined the OBU faculty in the Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry as assistant professor of philosophy in the fall of 2011. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science at the University of Alberta, a Master of Divinity in pastoral ministry from Edmonton Baptist Seminary and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before arriving at OBU, he served as a Garrett Fellow at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, guest lecturing on a broad variety of philosophy courses. Prior to that, he served for seven years as the English pastor of Edmonton Chinese Baptist Church and part-time Baptist chaplain at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is passionate about contemporary Christian philosophy, particularly philosophical apologetics -- explaining and defending the truth of Christian theism in the face of cultural and academic objections, doubts, and challenges. He has led apologetic workshops, seminars and conferences at churches throughout western Canada, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Colorado.