The OBU Women of Vision held their annual meeting and dinner Oct. 21 in the backyard of the Cargill Advancement and Alumni Center on the OBU campus in Shawnee. More than 70 women attended the event, helping to generate substantial contributions to positively impact students and the entire OBU campus community.
Women of Vision is a giving circle dedicated to empowering women through promoting philanthropic endeavors that aid in promoting OBU’s mission. Membership in the Women of Vision allows members to meet and network with other women and help direct financial resources to make major lasting impacts on Bison Hill. Membership is open to alumni and friends of the university who understand the potential women have in making a lasting impact on OBU. Each member contributes $1,000 annually with a special rate of $500 annually given to faculty, staff, students and recent graduates or their spouses.
Annually, the Women of Vision meet to decide how the money raised through their membership will be spent on projects at OBU in need of funding. Each member votes for the project she deems worthy. The grant is then awarded to fund the selected project and members are kept up to date on the progress of the projects.
OBU First Lady Jill Thomas opened the event and welcomed guests. Rachael Melot, 1999 OBU alumna, brought greetings from Shawnee Forward. Christa Rogers, 2006 alumna, offered greetings from WatersEdge. Paula Gower, associate vice president for marketing and communications and 1985 alumna, gave an update on the 2020 project. She then introduced Lea Ann Quirk, 2002 alumna and director of the OBU Alumni Association. Quirk led the invocation.
Following dinner, an alumni panel discussed OBU and kingdom impact. The panel included Casey Merrifield,’95; Jenn Hawkins, ’00; Erin Zimmerman, ’99; Celeste Gwynn, ’00; and Susanne Clinton, ’99. Following the panel, potential projects under consideration were presented by Student Government Association President Noah DeMoss and SGA Attorney General Rachel Lopez. Jeanetta Bagwell, 1988 OBU alumna, then led the members in the process of voting for their preferred projects. Following the vote, OBU Provost Dr. Susan DeWoody spoke on the state of the University. Bagwell then announced the results of the vote for the 2021 project.
After weighing the costs and benefits of all four projects, the members selected the renovation and extension of the Cargill Center patio. The space has been used for numerous gatherings and meetings in the past, including Courage and Connections events led by First Lady Jill Thomas for female OBU students, an OBU Alumni Association celebration for graduating seniors, various student meetings and gatherings, alumni and friends events, the Women of Vision dinner and more. The renovation will extend the patio to the north by adding concrete or brick pavers, construct a retaining wall/border and firepit for visual appeal and add seating. It will also purchase new outdoor furniture and enhance the area with outdoor lighting, fans and heat lamps. In addition, the project will install a sound system and speakers, and will consider a second level deck to enhance the look and use of the space. The result will be a destination where multiple groups on campus may gather, host events, build community and enhance the overall campus experience for students, employees and alumni.
The Women of Vision have met annually since 2015 to select worthwhile projects to fund. In its inaugural year, the group granted funding to install more street lighting around multiple dorms, University Street and the area between Sarkeys Telecommunication Center and Shawnee Hall. In 2016, the group funded increased security of several buildings on campus by adding keyless card access technology to enable buildings to be locked electronically. The following year, they enabled a remodeling of part of the Geiger Center to allow Spiritual Life to be moved from Montgomery Hall to the Geiger Center in the heart of campus.
In 2018, the Women of Vision funded the installation of multiple blue emergency safety phones around campus that connect immediately to emergency services and also funded an endowment to provide annual scholarships to OBU students. The following year, the group funded renovations to the interior lobby of Thurmond Hall as well as the front exterior. Last year, the group provided outdoor seating throughout the campus, including benches, picnic tables, chairs and outdoor umbrellas, with the umbrellas including solar powered lights to illuminate the tables for night use.
Learn more about the Women of Vision.