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Ribbon Cutting and Dedication Ceremony held for OBU Sarkeys Center

November 4, 2022

Members of the Oklahoma Baptist University Board of Trustees were joined by OBU administrators, faculty, staff and students to celebrate the ribbon cutting and dedication of the University’s recently remodeled Sarkeys Center Friday, Nov. 4, during their meeting on the OBU campus.

Sarkeys Center, which houses academic programs in communications arts, underwent a $1.3 million renovation providing significant updates to classrooms, a student center, faculty offices, audio/video editing suites, a conference room, and the lobby and entry space. Other significant improvements include modern furnishings and décor, flooring, ceilings, lighting, modernized technology and computer labs, and a new roof.

Sarkeys Center houses learning space and equipment for a variety of degree programs including communication studies, journalism and mass communications with a journalism emphasis; journalism and mass communications with a film and media emphasis, and theatre.

Students gain valuable experience through the many resources provided in Sarkeys Center. The multi-faceted building offers a professional environment for production of the student news broadcast, “News on the Hill,” video production, and creation of the student newspaper, “The Bison.” Theatre students utilize spaces for set design, technical and creative design, rehearsals and theatre performances inside the Black Box Theatre. A large, updated computer lab is also housed in the facility.

During the dedication and ribbon cutting, Ben Baxter, chair of communication arts and assistant professor of animation and media production, spoke on the significance of the renovated space and the impact it has on the program and on students.

“The programs offered in this space are highly driven by technology,” Baxter said. “This renovation has provided our faculty and students an advanced and well-equipped learning environment to succeed in their various roles. We are very happy for our current students, but also are excited to showcase this great space to prospective students and families.”

Speaking at the event as a representative of OBU students, Sylvia Lambert, a senior journalism major from Oklahoma City, said, “Sarkeys is an activity center for production where students, like myself, spend many hours. The remodel and beautiful furnishings have empowered me in my role and caused me to want to do my highest quality of work. The surroundings are a breath of fresh air which benefits my entire learning experience.”

Addressing the crowd, OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas expressed gratitude for the work completed and emphasized how many team members worked collaboratively to achieve the renovation. 

“It takes a team to launch a dream,” he said. “This renovation speaks to the quality of OBU. It is another step forward and a re-launch of our educational mission to equip students so they can engage their world well.  It is a time to celebrate God’s provision and faithfulness.”

Improvements to Sarkeys were completed in time for the beginning of classes for the fall semester. Lingo Construction Services was the general contractor for the project and funding was provided by resources made available through Tulsa Royalties Company.

Stephanie Woolsey, a junior media student from Gering, Nebraska, has served as a student worker in communication arts since her freshman year at OBU. In that role, she helps with studio set up, equipment checkout, and any assistance needed by the faculty. Currently she serves as producer of “News on the Hill.”

“It has been great to see the renovation of Sarkeys this year,” Woolsey said. “The classrooms have taken on an amazing look, and it has really brought a new sense of life to the building. I particularly have enjoyed the changes made in the studio’s control room where I spend several afternoons producing ‘News on The Hill.’ I also am glad to have the new student lounge where I study for many tests.”

Assistant Professor of Journalism Holly Easttom said, “This renovation is so important for our students--not just the students we have right now, but prospective students, future majors, and graduates. They can walk through this building and physically see how invested we are for their futures and how much we respect the time they spend with us. The improvement offers our majors concrete evidence that we are invested in their educational journey—and it is greatly beneficial for the community at large. This major project improves the overall footprint of the university, and illustrates forward movement. We are all beyond grateful for the recent construction.”

The OBU communication arts program integrates the fields of communication studies, broadcasting, theatre arts, public relations and journalism through laboratory experience, practice and performance. It’s core concepts facilitate learning in order to stimulate artistic, social, cultural, spiritual and professional development.

When asked what impact the new facility has on the quality and instruction of communication arts, Baxter said, “It is wonderful that this renovation can help support and showcase our degree majors who are driven by advanced technology. It has brought us in line with industry standards and the expectation for delivery of high caliber instruction. This was a team effort and I want to thank everyone who has been involved in bringing this project to fruition.”