Academic installations and presidential words of advice highlighted Oklahoma Baptist University’s Founders’ Day Chapel, Wednesday, Feb. 7, in the Recreation and Wellness Center on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Dr. Alex Himaya, founding and senior pastor of BattleCreek Church, located in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, provided the Founders’ Day Chapel message.
The annual event, held near the beginning of the spring semester, is a time-honored tradition that celebrates the University’s incorporation in 1910 and pays tribute to the dedicated faculty and staff who have contributed to its rich 114-year history.
During the installations of chairs and professorships, the recipients were presented with certificates in recognition of exemplary scholarship and excellence in teaching, along with medallions representing the chairs and professorship.
Three faculty members were installed to endowed academic positions during the 10 a.m. service. They include Dr. Brandon Smith, named to the Dickinson Chair of Religion; Dr. Mark Franklin, named to the Burton H. Patterson Professorship in Music; and Dr. Stephen Sims, named to the Clair McGavern-Nancy Montgomery Professorship in Music.
Endowed chairs and professorships are awarded to select professors who are “outstanding teachers and who have demonstrated exceptional ability in their academic disciplines.” Gifts to establish chairs and professorships are invested in the University’s permanent endowment fund, and the annual earnings are used to assist with compensation.
Dr. Brandon Smith, Dickinson Chair of Religion
In 1986, Paul Dickinson, in addition to other generous gifts to OBU, endowed the Dickinson Chair of Religion and in 1987 endowed the Dickinson Chair of Business. Upon Dickinson’s death in 1991, the Ruth Dickinson Chair of Religion was established in memory of his wife.
Smith serves as chair of the Hobbs School of Theology and Ministry at OBU. He joined the faculty of Oklahoma Baptist University after spending nearly five years as a professor at Cedarville University. Previously, he served in various pastoral roles for over a decade, oversaw editorial and marketing for the Christian Standard Bible translation and served as director of communications and associate editor for the Criswell Theological Review at Criswell College. He also helped found the Center for Baptist Renewal and hosts the Church Grammar podcast. His research interests include the Trinity, canonical and theological interpretation and patristic theology. Smith earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Baptist University, an M.A. in Theological and Biblical Studies from Criswell College, and a Ph.D. in Theology from Ridley College (Melbourne).
Smith is the award-winning author of numerous books, book contributions and journal articles. He was recently named as a recipient of the prestigious Gospel Coalition Book Award in Academic Theology for “The Trinity in the Canon: A Biblical, Theological, Historical, and Practical Proposal.” His book was also a finalist for the Christianity Today book award in Theology (Academic). He and his wife, Christa, have four children: Harper, Emma, Amelia and Knox.
Dr. Mark Franklin, Burton H. Patterson Professorship in Music
The Burton H. Patterson Professorship in Music is named for Burton H. Patterson, ’56, an entrepreneur, attorney, educator and musician who has a longstanding relationship with OBU. He was licensed to practice law in Texas in 1959. He retired in 1999 as the senior partner of Patterson, Sargent and Glanville and incorporated The Foundation for the Advancement of Christianity.
Franklin is assistant professor of music and coordinator of keyboard studies in OBU’s Warren M. Angell School of Visual and Performing Arts Division of Music, teaching applied piano, piano pedagogy, music theory and group piano. An active performer, Franklin frequently appears in solo and collaborative engagements both within his local community and beyond. In 2013, Franklin appeared as a soloist with the Wheaton College Symphony Orchestra as the winner of the keyboard division of the Wheaton College Concerto Competition.
Franklin is also an enthusiastic chamber musician, regularly collaborating with numerous vocalists and instrumentalists, such as with clarinetist Katsuya Yuasa for his winning performance at the Mu Phi Epsilon International Competition, held in Denver, Colorado. Franklin was also the winner of Florida State University’s Annual Competitive Festival as a graduate student in 2020. He was awarded Third Place for the American Prize’s Ernst Bacon Award for the Performance of American Music in 2021. Franklin’s activities often also include adjudication of piano competitions and festivals inside and outside Oklahoma.
Dr. Stephen Sims, Clair McGavern-Nancy Montgomery Professorship in Music
The Clair McGavern-Nancy Montgomery Professorship in Music was established in 2017. Clair R. McGavern served as a member of the OBU music faculty from 1949-75. In 1974, he helped establish the Concerto-Aria Concert and in 2011, he was inducted into the OBU Faculty Hall of Fame. Nancy Montgomery was a voice major at OBU and performed with the University’s women’s quartet. After graduating and teaching in various roles around the U.S., Montgomery returned to OBU in 1955 as an assistant professor of music, teaching voice, music education and music appreciation.
Sims is associate professor of music and in his eighth year in the Warren M. Angell School of Visual and Performing Arts Division of Music, where he conducts the Bison Glee Club and is coordinator of worship studies and voice. He is a 2000 graduate of OBU. He earned his Master of Church Music degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Texas Tech University.
Sims’s ministry experience spans 20 years, serving various roles in churches in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Kentucky. Sims has served as adjudicator at the district and state levels for solo and ensemble contests, has been guest conductor for choral clinics, and has sung in numerous operatic and concert roles, including OBU’s world premiere of The Porcelain Doll by James Vernon and Brent Newsom. Sims and his wife, Carrie, have four children.