Ouachita sets retention record, enrollment increases

Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia begins the fall semester with a record freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 83.4 percent and student enrollment of 1,660, an increase of 7.45 percent from a year ago.

The enrollment figures account for students in the undergraduate residential, online, and concurrent programs.

“We are pleased that students are choosing to further their education at Ouachita and remain here,” said Dr. Ben Sells, president of Ouachita Baptist University. “Higher retention represents higher student satisfaction and leads to higher graduation and placement rates.”

Recent data from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education shows a 75 percent average retention rate for private universities and a 72 percent average for public universities, positioning Ouachita well over the state and national averages.

The undergraduate residential program includes a significant increase in out-of-state students of 18 percent.

“Our success in attracting out-of-state students is a compliment to Ouachita and demonstrates the growing reputation of our university,” Sells said.

There are 472 new students, including freshmen and transfers. Of new freshmen, 43 percent had high school grade point averages of 3.9 or higher.

“We are very fortunate to have exceptionally well-qualified students, representing our commitment to academic and Christian excellence,” stated Sells.

This year, Ouachita launched a new and innovative nursing program in partnership with Baptist Health that enrolled an inaugural class of 23 students. The university also achieved a record level in private giving and completed three important building projects.

“Ouachita is rising,” Dr. Sells said. “We are empowered by the commitment of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends who believe in the vision of dreaming a larger dream to advance our Christian higher education mission.”

Ouachita Tiger Tunes wins national award for Outstanding Student Advancement Program

Ouachita Baptist University’s annual Tiger Tunes was named the 2018 Outstanding Student Advancement Program by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Affiliated Student Advancement Programs at the recent national Conference for Student Advancement in Louisville, Ky.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) is an international association that serves educational institutions and professionals who work on their behalf in communications, marketing, alumni relations and development. ASAP, the Affiliated Student Advancement Program, is an organization within CASE that helps organizations like the Ouachita Student Foundation to elevate their program and learn best practices from other programs in the nation.

Over 700 universities were represented at CASE ASAP this year with 200 universities present at the convention. Eight other colleges were nominated for this award, including notable universities like University of California in Los Angeles and Smith College. This national recognition comes after the Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF), the student-led organization that is responsible for hosting Tiger Tunes, joined CASE ASAP in the fall of 2017.

“When we joined CASE ASAP last fall, I knew I wanted to nominate Tunes with the anniversary coming up – not knowing if we would even be considered since we just joined the organization this year,” said Jon Merryman, Ouachita’s director of Alumni Relations and the Ouachita Student Foundation.

Tiger Tunes is a fundraising event held during Ouachita’s Homecoming weekend every fall.

The student-produced song-and-dance competition features student performers from campus organizations and social clubs, and proceeds are awarded to junior and senior Ouachita students as scholarships. This year will be the 40th anniversary of Tiger Tunes, which has raised more than $1.5 million since its founding. This award is following a record-breaking year where the program raised $100,000 in the fall of 2017.

“The award is significant because it shines a light on the amazing work of OSF members past and present – and especially the creative structure of the event yielding so much money for student scholarships,” Merryman said. “Other universities have reached out asking about how they can create something similar, which is fun since Baylor University’s Sing event is what we modeled Tiger Tunes after, just with a philanthropic goal for scholarships. I think our students can be proud that the work they do with Tiger Tunes was recognized in such a big way at CASE.”

Student representatives from OSF were given the opportunity to network with students from other universities and learn about their student advancement programs. These representatives of OSF also received the CASE ASAP annual ROLL Call Spirit Award on the first night of the conference.

“For me personally, it was so rewarding to see the hard work of my peers and friends pay off. It takes so much to prepare for Tiger Tunes each fall, from directors planning the shows, students spending hours in practice every night and all the behind-the-scenes work to get the show up and running,” said Alec Edmonds, OSF president. “To come back after receiving this award and see how much pride it brings to students in OSF, Tiger Tunes directors and my friends in class to put this event on for student scholarships is just incredible.” Edmonds is a senior mass communications major from North Little Rock, Ark.

In addition to receiving the two awards, the Ouachita Student Foundation was invited to present at next year’s national conference in Baltimore.

The 40th anniversary performances of Tiger Tunes will take place Sept. 27-29, and tickets are available at obu.edu/boxoffice.

 

Speer, Ouachita archivist, recognized by national Council of State Archivists

Dr. Lisa Speer, associate professor and university archivist, has been honored with the Victoria Irons Walch Leadership Award by the national Council of State Archivists (CoSA). This award recognizes her leadership as former state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives. Speer began serving at Ouachita in February. She accepted the award this month at the Joint Annual Meeting of CoSA, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators and the Society of American Archivists in Washington, D.C.

Photograph of 6 men and women.

Dr. Lisa Speer (far right) recently received the Council of State Archivists’ Victoria Irons Walch Leadership Award. She is pictured here with other CoSA award winners, including: Tim Baker, CoSA president and Maryland state archivist; Jim Corridan, former Indiana state archivist; Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos; Ali Rahmaan from the District of Columbia Office of Public Records; and Anne Ackerson, former CoSA executive director.

“The Council of State Archivists selected Dr. Speer because of two conspicuous leadership attributes,” said Dr. Ray Granade, director of library services and professor of history at Ouachita. “First, Dr. Speer’s leadership is a collaborative one that extends to those who work at the state archives but also to stakeholders in the larger archival world, particularly in Arkansas but also beyond. Second, her leadership looks forward, encompassing the brave new digital world that lies before all archives. Both traits illustrate her inclusive leadership style and her belief in active archival outreach instead of a passive waiting approach.”

“It is both a privilege and a pleasure to welcome Dr. Lisa Speer to the position of archivist in Riley-Hickingbotham Library’s Special Collections,” Granade added. “We have been blessed to have exemplary leadership in Special Collections, and we know that Dr. Speer will continue that tradition of excellence.

The Council of State Archives (CoSA) acknowledges institutions, individuals and programs that have enriched and strengthened state and territorial archives. The Victoria Irons Walch Award recognizes the sustained leadership and outstanding contributions of an individual or institution in the field.

“My first thought when I saw the email with the ‘Congratulations’ subject line was that it had been sent to me in error,” said Speer, who also is a Ouachita alumna. “I was stunned, especially after I read the nomination sent in by my former colleagues at the state archives. To know that they considered my time at the state archives to be ‘transformative’ was incredibly humbling. Then to know that their nomination had been supported and affirmed by the Council of State Archives Awards Committee and the CoSA Board of Directors, both of which are made up of state archivists, is truly a career highlight.”

In her colleagues’ nomination submission, they said Speer’s “leadership and service at the Arkansas State Archives left it a changed place and continue to benefit the organization she led and the archival staff she supported. It is not enough to say that Lisa Speer did her job and directed the archives; Dr. Speer changed the archives’ direction.”

“I’ve never worked with a more cohesive and dedicated group of people,” Speer said of her former colleagues. “I am so proud that I had the opportunity to work with them and to serve the state of Arkansas.”

In addition to the outstanding team at the Arkansas State Archives, Speer acknowledged her passion for her work and as a major contributing factors to her success.

“Regardless of the type of archives one works with, you are playing a role in something so much bigger than you. You are just a dot on the continuum helping to preserve the historical record for the ages,” she said.

“I also love working with people,” Speer added. “Sometimes you make lifelong friends of donors and researchers by simply helping them find information or making a big decision about where to donate their records. That’s very rewarding.”

In addition to her work in Ouachita’s library, Speer will coordinate Ouachita’s public history program in the Department of History, bringing her years of experience to the classroom for the benefit of the students in Ouachita’s Sutton School of Social Sciences.

Ouachita Baptist University’s Riley-Hickingbotham Library physically houses an open-stack main book collection of about 170,000 volumes, about 330,000 selected federal and state government publications and some 400,000 non-book items in addition to serial and journal titles, multimedia resources and access to numerous electronic databases. In addition to university archives, Riley-Hickingbotham Library Special Collections include archives of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and Clark County Historical Association, as well as a rare books collection and political papers from U.S. Representative Jay Dickey, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator John L. McClellan and U.S. Representative Mike Ross.

Ouachita and Baptist Health partner to provide innovative nursing education

Ouachita Baptist University and Baptist Health today announced a partnership to address the shortage of nurses in the state and region.

Ouachita recently received approval from its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The inaugural class convenes in the 2018 fall semester with 23 students.

The partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock (BHCLR), the teaching component of the Baptist Health System and one of the largest nursing programs in Arkansas, creates a distinctive dual enrollment RN-to-BSN completion program. Capitalizing on the strengths of both institutions, the program will allow nursing students to work as RNs a full semester earlier than most traditional BSN programs.

“This is an innovative partnership with Baptist Health College Little Rock that expands nursing education and makes it more affordable,” said Dr. Ben Sells, president of Ouachita. “This program allows students to earn two degrees in four years and expedites their entry into the healthcare workforce.”

Students will attend Ouachita during the first four semesters of the program, giving them the opportunity to experience campus and college life. Subsequently, students will continue their degree through Ouachita Online while dually enrolled at Baptist Health College Little Rock to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree.

Midway through their senior year, students will sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Once that exam is passed, they will be licensed to work as RNs during the final semester of their senior year while completing Ouachita’s BSN requirements for graduation.

“This partnership with Ouachita makes sense for Baptist Health,” said Troy Wells, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “Our respective missions and cultures are very much aligned, and we share a commitment to faith-based education. We strongly complement one another.”

Baptist Health is Arkansas’ largest healthcare system, with hospitals in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Arkadelphia, Conway, Heber Springs, Malvern and Stuttgart. Additionally, it recently purchased Sparks Health System, with locations in Fort Smith and Van Buren.

“As we grow, so too does our need for nurses, preferably those with BSN degrees,” Wells added. “Healthcare demand is growing at a rapid pace, and we must be diligent and innovative in our efforts to respond to the demand for services.”

“BHCLR has a reputation of producing quality graduates,” said Dr. Judy Pile, chancellor of Baptist Health College Little Rock. “Our students receive extensive clinical experience early in the educational process, giving them the opportunity to distinguish themselves from other professionals in the field.”

Ouachita also has a longstanding record of successfully preparing students for health-related professions. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree will complement Ouachita’s existing degree programs in natural sciences while answering nationwide calls for innovation in nursing education.

“This partnership is ideal for Ouachita and Baptist Health, and for the benefit of healthcare in the state and beyond,” said Dr. Sells. “Baptist Health can tap into Ouachita’s significant pool of potential students in Arkansas and surrounding states. Our university, on the other hand, can play a leading role in helping find solutions in a time of significant disruption and change in higher education and healthcare.”

While research and conversations into a potential partnership had been underway for several years, Ouachita and Baptist Health began the formal planning process three years ago.

Former Ouachita President Ben Elrod left enduring legacy of servant leadership

Dr. Ben M. Elrod, former president and longtime chancellor of Ouachita Baptist University, passed away Aug. 7 at age 87. He is remembered for a lasting legacy of leadership and service at Ouachita during his decade as president and beyond.

Dr. Elrod served as Ouachita’s 13th president from 1988 to 1998. A 1952 graduate of Ouachita, he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees and as vice president for development. He was named chancellor following his retirement as president.

According to Dr. Dan Grant, Elrod’s predecessor and longtime colleague and friend, “When Ouachita asked me to serve as president, my first call was to Ben Elrod. I asked him to serve as chief fundraiser for Ouachita, and his acceptance began a lifetime partnership and friendship.

“Ouachita has lost a great friend and Christian higher education has lost a great leader,” emphasized Dr. Grant, president emeritus of Ouachita. “His wisdom, enthusiasm and faithfulness have been a great benefit not only to Ouachita but to higher education in America and beyond.”

Among his many leadership accomplishments, Dr. Elrod led the university in raising $57 million during Phases I and II of Ouachita’s Decade of Progress Campaign. Signature achievements during his tenure included the construction of the university’s landmark Jones Performing Arts Center in 1992 and Harvey Jones Science Center in 1997.

Other major campus construction projects included R.A. Lile Hall, Heflin (now Ward) Tennis Center, Anthony and Maddox residence halls, the International Flag Plaza, the Katie Speer Pavilion and the renovation of Cone-Bottoms Hall to house the Grant Administration Center.

“I met Dr. Elrod during my first week as president,” recalled Ouachita President Ben Sells. “He and Betty Lou hosted me in their home. Sharing some of her famous chocolate pie, they told me their Ouachita story. I asked him for advice that afternoon, and I have not forgotten his counsel. Just a few weeks ago, I was in his home, learning more Ouachita history, and I always left encouraged.

“Dr. Elrod was Ouachita’s first true vice president for development, and the university continues to benefit from the work he inaugurated in the 1960s,” Dr. Sells added. “I believe the legacy of a college president becomes more evident with the passing of time. The longer I’m at Ouachita, the clearer it is that Ben Elrod’s impact is significant and enduring.”

In recognition of Dr. Elrod’s lifelong commitment to servant leadership, volunteerism and community service, the Board of Trustees named Ouachita’s Ben M. Elrod Center for Family and Community in his honor upon his retirement as president. He was further honored with the dedication of a new Elrod Center facility in 2015.

Dr. and Mrs. Elrod also were honored by the university community in 2009 with the dedication of Ben and Betty Elrod Boulevard, which was designed as the main entrance to campus from Highway 7.

“I am so proud that we have named the boulevard in honor of Dr. Ben and Betty Lou Elrod,” Dr. Rex Horne, Ouachita’s 15th president, said during the dedication service. “No one loves Ouachita more. Their lives of service and devotion to Ouachita are exemplary.”

In a 2011 essay published in Ouachita Voices: Celebrating 125 Years of Academic and Christian Excellence, Dr. Elrod wrote that his vision as president was “to inform, mobilize and solicit the involvement of the larger Ouachita constituency in a one-decade effort to move the institution to a new level of capability, excellence, reputation and effectiveness in the world of higher education,” adding that “all of that would be devoted to the development of a ‘university under the Lordship of Christ.’”

Looking to the future, Dr. Elrod declared, “An institution such as Ouachita is a living entity, created afresh by each generation. … It is exciting to view a new Ouachita being built on the foundation of the past. The future of Ouachita will be, no doubt, beyond our most ambitious dreams.”

“Dr. Ben Elrod was a multi-faceted leader,” reflected Ian Cosh, vice president for community and international engagement and director of the Elrod Center.

Noting that “the Elrod Center for Family and Community that coordinates service at Ouachita perfectly reflects the passion of his life,” Cosh said, “He believed in the power of experiential learning and wanted Ouachita to be known as a university committed to learning that starts in the classroom and moves beyond it to meet the needs of a hurting world.

“My hope is that future generations of Ouachitonians will follow his example by using their education and their skills to bless others and be the servant leaders that he showed himself to be in word and in deed,” he added.

Cosh and fellow Ouachita alumnus Rex Nelson published a 2016 biography of Dr. Elrod titled Giving Until It Feels Good – Ben M. Elrod: Arkansas Educator and Fundraiser. The biography describes Dr. Elrod as “one of Arkansas’ most respected leaders in the 20th century,” emphasizing that “Ouachita and the state of Arkansas are better places because he walked among us.”

“Ben Elrod is one of the men I respect most in life,” said Nelson, senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.“It’s important that we record the story of Ben Elrod for those who come later. His legacy will live on in this state for decades to come.”

In addition to his Ouachita degree, Dr. Elrod earned Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Education degree in higher education from Indiana University. He was honored as a distinguished alumnus both at Ouachita and Southwestern Seminary and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Oakland City College.

Dr. Elrod, an ordained minister, served as pastor of churches in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma as well as president of Oakland City College in Indiana, Georgetown College in Kentucky and Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities. He also served as president of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools, which named him the 1997-98 Outstanding Christian Educator, chairman of the Cooperative Services International Education Consortium and president of the Arkadelphia Rotary Club. He served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Elrod is survived by his wife of 67 years, Betty Lou; daughter, Cindy Elrod Stroud; son, Bill Elrod; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Ouachita’s Huckabee School of Education earns national accreditation

Ouachita Baptist University’s Huckabee School of Education received its accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). To earn this accreditation, university education programs must meet nationally recognized standards that ensure excellence in educator preparation programs.

“These institutions meet high standards so that their students receive an education that prepares them to succeed in a diverse range of classrooms after they graduate,” said Dr. Christopher Koch, president of CAEP. “Seeking CAEP accreditation is a significant commitment on the part of an educator preparation provider.”

A CAEP team reviewed the department’s self-study and other materials prior to visiting Ouachita’s campus last March. After the team submitted its report to a national committee, faculty members completed the process in October at a Washington D.C. meeting with CAEP officials. CAEP then sent a letter to Ouachita President Ben Sells indicating that Ouachita’s teacher education program had met all standards.

“I am immensely proud of the outstanding work done by each member of the education faculty and of the quality of our students,” said Dr. Jeff Root, dean of the Huckabee School of Education. “It was truly a team effort to respond to the CAEP standards in the ever-changing field of education with clear evidence of the success of teacher education at Ouachita. The time devoted to this process and the positive spirit in which the work was done demonstrate the dedication of the faculty to their students and the field of education.”

CAEP is the sole nationally recognized accrediting body for educator preparation. Accreditation is a nongovernmental activity based on peer review that serves the dual functions of assuring quality and promoting improvement. CAEP was created by the consolidation of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

Educator preparation providers seeking accreditation must pass peer review on five standards, which are based on two principles: solid evidence that the provider’s graduates are competent and caring educators, and solid evidence that the provider’s educator staff have the capacity to create a culture of evidence and use it to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs they offer.

Ouachita’s Huckabee School joins 42 other providers that earned CAEP accreditation this fall. Overall, 101 preparation providers from 33 states and the District of Columbia have received CAEP accreditation.

Danny Prescott resigns after 14 years as Ouachita head volleyball coach

Coach Danny Prescott, who has served as Ouachita Baptist University’s head volleyball coach for 14 seasons, has announced his resignation effective Dec. 31.

“I am grateful to David Sharp for the opportunity to coach a sport I love at my alma mater, to which I have been fortunate to invest 23 years in various capacities,” Prescott said. “While I am extremely proud of the athletic and academic successes of the teams during my tenure and foresee many years of continued growth, I feel God’s calling to devote more time to my loving wife, Amber, and the development of our three amazing children.

“I would like to thank the entire Ouachita family for their support during this journey, especially my assistant coaches, student athletes and the families who have contributed to the advancement of the OBU volleyball program. I pray that God will continue to be glorified through the endeavors of each life impacted through this special place.”

“I am deeply grateful for the 14 years Coach Prescott has led our volleyball team,” said Athletic Director David Sharp. “He has raised the bar in regards to Ouachita volleyball in the Great American Conference, competing for and this year winning the GAC championship. He and his teams have always represented Ouachita well on the court, in the classroom and in the community. We wish Danny well as he spends more time with his family.”

During his 14-year career as head volleyball coach, Prescott amassed 208 wins and compiled an overall 58.5 percent winning record since the Tigers joined the NCAA Division II Great American Conference in 2011. Prescott was named the 2016 GAC Volleyball Coach of the Year after leading his team to a share of the regular season conference championship with a career high 23-7 record (12-4 GAC). His teams have advanced to the GAC Championship Tournament every year since 2011.

Many of Coach Prescott’s players have represented Ouachita volleyball with distinguished awards, including:

· Kori Bullard, GAC Scholar Athlete of the Year (2016)
· Ashley Wake, Daktronics/D2CCA All-Region Team (2016)
· Tabatha Huckabee, GAC All-Tournament Team (2016)
· Stormi Leonard, GAC Setter of the Year (2016)
· Adrianna Nolly, GAC Freshman of the Year (2016)
· Abby Pickett, GAC Player of the Year (2015)
· Breanne Garrett, Gulf South Conference All-Decade Team (2004-2007) and GSC Freshman of the Year (2004)

Prescott emphasized the importance of scholastic achievement with his student athletes. He led the GAC with the most players named to the Academic All-Conference Teams with 37 (2011-2016), and produced six GAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes, two GAC Elite Scholar Athletes, one GAC Scholar Athlete of the Year, two Capital One Academic All-District Team members and one CoSIDA Division II Academic All-American.

Coach Sharp said the university will begin a search immediately to select a new volleyball coach. For information about the search process, contact David Sharp at sharpd@obu.edu or 870-245-5181.

Ouachita to host Rex Nelson in “News and Fake News” lecture Oct. 24

The School of Humanities at Ouachita Baptist University will host Rex Nelson, senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in a lecture Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Hickingbotham Hall’s Young Auditorium. His lecture, “News and Fake News,” is part of Ouachita’s Birkett Williams Endowed Lecture Series.

“Amid all the confusion about journalism today, we are pleased to have a senior editor of the state’s leading newspaper talk about the future of journalism,” said Dr. Jeff Root, dean of Ouachita’s School of Humanities. “Rex Nelson has been at the forefront of news coverage in Arkansas for decades. We are proud he is a Ouachita graduate and excited he is coming back to campus to speak on this topic.”

Nelson also is a columnist for the Democrat-Gazette and writes a blog titled “Southern Fried,” focusing on southern culture and cuisine. He previously served as director of corporate communications for Simmons Bank, president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities, senior vice president of government relations and public outreach for The Communications Group, Inc. and was a presidential appointee to the Delta Regional Authority, working on economic development projects in an eight-state region.

Nelson is a native of Arkadelphia and a 1981 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University. He also is in his 35th season as the radio voice of Ouachita football. The Rex Nelson Radio Booth in Cliff Harris Stadium’s Dunklin Family Press Box was named in his honor in 2015.

Ouachita’s Birkett Williams lecture series was established in 1977 through a gift from the late Birkett L. Williams, a 1910 Ouachita graduate. His generous endowment established the lectures as an opportunity to extend the concepts of a liberal arts education beyond the classroom by bringing renowned scholars and public figures to Ouachita’s campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Jeff Root, dean of the School of Humanities, at 870-245-4186 or rootj@obu.edu.

Ouachita’s Tiger Tunes sets sales record, raises $100,000 for student scholarships

Ouachita Baptist University’s annual Tiger Tunes production is about more than music, choreography and entertainment. This year’s scholarship fundraising event achieved both a record total of 6,750 tickets sold and a record number of 630 students participating in the show.

The 39th annual Tiger Tunes competition was performed Oct. 5-7 in Jones Performing Arts Center on Ouachita’s Arkadelphia campus. In addition to staging four performances in front of sold-out audiences as part of Ouachita’s annual Homecoming festivities, the event raises more than $100,000 each year for student scholarships.

Tiger Tunes is coordinated by the Ouachita Student Foundation which has raised a combined total of more than $1.4 million in student scholarships over the past four decades. The scholarship initiative embodies OSF’s motto of “Students Helping Students.”

“This is more good news for Ouachita, building upon our 17.9 percent increase in first-time freshmen and our recent No. 1 rankings,” emphasized Ouachita President Ben Sells. “The record level of tickets sold, extraordinary commitment of students helping students and exceptional engagement of alumni and parents are further indicators that Ouachita is rising.”

In addition to ticket sales, “we also received a record amount of donations in our People’s Choice voting boxes – almost $5,000 – and raised $2,000 in our silent auction,” noted Jon Merryman, director of OSF and alumni relations.

Tiger Tunes is a student-produced competition that features university social clubs and campus organizations. This year’s Tiger Tunes winners included Tri Chi women’s social club, first place and People’s Choice Award; Kappa Chi men’s social club, second place; EEE women’s social club, third place; Campus Ministries, fourth place; Rho Sigma men’s social club, OSF Award; and Tiger Blast instrumental performance band, Shelby Seabaugh Spirit of Tunes Award.

Affirming “the focus of the participants on the mission of Tiger Tunes and OSF of helping students by providing student scholarships,” Merryman said, “When tensions and stress were high, you could hear and read students’ encouragement to each other that all the hours of practice were worth it with the goal of providing even more scholarships to students.”

Jacob Hemsath, a senior musical theatre major from Wylie, Texas, is among students receiving OSF scholarships to help them continue their education at Ouachita. “I’m so thankful for my OSF scholarship and the fact that we go to a school that provides these scholarships for so many students,” he said.

“It was such a personal thing when I found out I got an OSF scholarship because I knew it was something students put together through things like Tunes to create these scholarships,” Hemsath added.

Abigail Brizuela, a junior finance and business administration double major from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, expressed appreciation for her OSF scholarship “because it has helped me pursue a higher education and continue my dream of study abroad and expand my worldview. Thank you, OSF, for helping me become a Ouachitonian.”

For more information about the Ouachita Student Foundation and Tiger Tunes, contact Jon Merryman at 870-245-5111 ormerrymanj@obu.edu.

Ouachita achieves top graduation rate among all colleges in Arkansas

Ouachita Baptist University has earned the honor of attaining the top university graduation rate in Arkansas, according to the latest data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics. The report follows other recent recognitions, including Ouachita being ranked as the No. 1 private university in Arkansas by Niche.com.

Graduation rates are among the top indicators to evaluate a university’s quality and educational impact for the benefit of students. Ouachita’s graduation rate of 70 percent is the highest among all 22 of Arkansas’ institutions of higher education, both private and public, that grant baccalaureate degrees. Ouachita is one of only five universities in the state with a graduation rate above 50 percent.

Along with Ouachita’s leading graduation rate, more than nine out of 10 of those graduates either have a job or are accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation from Ouachita.

“The high graduation and placement rates, a 17.9 percent increase in first-time freshmen and a focus on affordability that attracts many first-generation college students are strong indicators that Ouachita is rising, moving from strength to strength,” said Ouachita President Ben Sells. “These milestones are a reflection of the dedicated efforts of our faculty, staff and students to pursue academic excellence in a Christ-centered learning community.”

The National Center for Education Statistics is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education. It is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Educational Sciences which is the nation’s leading source for independent education research, evaluation and statistics. Additional data is available from the NCES College Navigator site at nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator.

Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., is in its 132nd year as a leading Christian liberal arts university. For more information, call 1-800-DIAL-OBU or visit www.obu.edu.