Norman Inaugurated as WBU President

Dr. Stan Norman has been officially installed as the seventh president of Williams Baptist University.  The inauguration ceremony was held Friday morning, Sept. 28, before a packed house in WBU’s Manley Chapel.  The crowd included state and denominational dignitaries, as well as representatives from a number of other colleges and universities.

J.R. Cox of Walnut Ridge, chair of WBU’s Board of Trustees, performed the investiture and then placed the school’s presidential medallion on Norman.

“We entrust to you the task of leading this institution, under God’s divine providence, to be of ever greater service to its students, to the world, and ultimately to Christ’s Kingdom.  As you assume these responsibilities, we pray that God’s blessings will be upon you; that He will grant you wisdom, strength, and courage, and that He will anoint you with vision and leadership as you faithfully and obediently walk with Him,” Cox said.

Dr. David Dockery.

The main speaker for the ceremony was Dr. David Dockery, president of Trinity International University and former president of Union University.  Dockery has been a longtime mentor to Norman and nominated him for the presidency at Williams.

In presenting his presidential charge to Norman, Dockery noted, “I truly believe that exploring every aspect of the life within the Williams community from the vantage point of the Christian faith and the Baptist heritage will both shape and sharpen your focus. We pray that you will be able to do so while relating to one another in love, humility, and unity, bringing new life and renewed hope to the Williams Baptist University family in the days ahead.”

Presenting his response, Norman outlined his vision for Williams.  “What we do here at WBU makes a difference; what we do here matters.  Grounded upon the historical vision and founding purpose of this school, I want to cast anew a vision for Christian higher education that renews minds, transforms lives, and changes the world,” he said.

The WBU president told the audience that the need for Christian universities is greater now than it has ever been.

“We must understand the mission of Christian higher education in terms of gospel good and kingdom influence upon our families, our communities, our churches, our culture, our nation, and even our world.  Our mandate is to be faithful followers of Jesus who embrace the mission of renewing minds in such a way that God transforms our lives and, in so doing, we become a people used by God to change the world.”

Norman concluded his remarks with a challenge to his audience, saying, “I invite you, I implore you – come with me, join your hand with my hand, and let us all commit collectively, by the grace, wisdom, love, and power of our Lord, put our hands, together, to this task.  Will you place your hand with my hand, and join with me, in this task, this task to which I put my hand?”

Dr. Bob Magee leads the Inauguration Choir.

Greetings were presented at the inauguration by Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, District 60 State Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp, Arkansas Baptist State Convention Executive Director Dr. Sonny Tucker, and several others.

Also having a role in the ceremony were Dr. Gene Fant, president of North Greenville University in South Carolina, Dr. David Whitlock, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, and Dr. Kenneth Startup, professor emeritus at WBU, who served as academic dean and interim president at the university.

The ceremony also featured performances by the WBU Band and an Inauguration Choir, which was composed of current members of the Williams Singers and a number of WBU alumni.

Norman came to Williams as president in April, having served the previous nine years as provost and executive vice president at Oklahoma Baptist University.  He has more than 20 years of experience in Baptist higher education

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.  It is owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

WBU Ranks Highly Among Arkansas Schools in US News

The latest college survey from US News & World Report shows that Williams Baptist University ranks well among institutions in Arkansas.  Of the 22 colleges and universities ranked in The Natural State, WBU comes in at number two in the Best Value category, and number four overall.

US News released its 2019 Best Colleges edition last week.

Colleges and universities across the nation are ranked in several different categories, based on their size and specialties.  The magazine then compiles a list of institutions in each of the states, listing them in order of their respective rankings on the US News website.

“With so many fine schools in this state, we are truly honored to be ranked this highly by US News,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.  “Williams wants to be known around Arkansas and beyond as a preeminent Christian university, so this is a gratifying position in the rankings.”

Williams climbed overall in the US News rankings this year, rising from 35th to 27th among liberal arts colleges and universities in the South.  WBU is ranked 22nd for Best Value among the Southern schools.

Williams PBL Earns National Accolades

Williams Baptist University’s chapter of Phi Beta Lambda business society traveled to Baltimore this summer for the National Leadership Conference, winning a host of awards in the process.

Allen Thompson, Betsy Ryan, Oni Robertson

PBL, which is comprised of college business students, is the collegiate extension of the Future Business Leaders of America.

Williams student Betsy Ryan earned fourth place honors nationally for presenting WBU’s Gold Chapter Report.

Ryan and fellow WBU student Oni Robertson teamed up to win fifth place honors in two categories: Small Business Management Plan and Emerging Business Issues.

Also distinguishing himself as a WBU representative was Allen Thompson, who qualified for the final round in Business Decision Making.

The National Leadership Conference was held June 23-26.

Earlier this year, the Williams PBL group earned Gold Chapter Status at the state conference.  In order to become a Gold Chapter, PBL chapters must meet certain expectations. WBU’s PBL participated in more events at the state competition, interacted with local FBLA chapters and business professionals, completed community service projects and raised money for charity to once again earn the golden status.

Bosch Awards STEM Grant to WBU

A $12,000 grant from the Bosch Community Fund will fund a pilot research program for Williams Baptist University science students. The Bosch Company, which operates a plant in Walnut Ridge, is providing the grant to stimulate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

Steve Engelken, operations manager, and Tracy Brock, human resources manager at the Walnut Ridge Bosch facility, recently presented the grant to Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU, and Dr. Ann Paterson, Nell Mondy Chair of Natural Sciences and professor of biology at Williams.

Biology is the most popular major at WBU, and the grant will be used to launch a collaborative research program in marine conservation. Williams students selected for the program will participate in preparatory activities and study during the academic year and will then accompany two faculty members to Titusville, Fla., in May. Once in Florida, they will spend one month conducting research projects in marine conservation and performing community service to improve environmental quality in their work area.

“Thanks to this generous gift from Bosch, we are going to be able to pilot a program that will give our students an opportunity to participate in marine biology research, with the possibility of publishing well-done projects and presenting them at scientific conferences,” said Paterson.

“We also hope that their presentations on their work locally will inspire others in the community, such as K12 students, about the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields. We want them to see how much fun working in STEM fields can be, and to open new horizons for students who may have never considered these types of careers before,” she added.

The WBU team will work in conjunction with Dr. Robert Sluka of A Rocha, USA, which is based in Titusville.

“A Rocha is a Christian nature conservation organization, our name coming from the Portuguese for ‘the Rock,’ as the first initiative was a field study centre in Portugal,” Sluka noted. “A Rocha projects are frequently cross-cultural in character, and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education.”

Paterson said WBU will commence with the project this fall.

WBU Prepares for Fall Semester

The Williams Baptist University campus is coming to life as the fall semester draws near. Classes begin at WBU on August 21, but activity is already picking up as the university prepares for a new school year.

Fall athletic teams and international students are returning to WBU this week in preparation for the fall semester. Residence hall staffers will move in this weekend to begin training and to begin preparation for freshman move-in day and Ascend Orientation, which kicks off Friday, August 17.

Fall athletic teams, which consists of cheerleaders, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country, will get underway in their preseason workouts as well.

“This is the most exciting time of year for us as Williams, as we prepare to welcome all of our new students and to have our returning students back on campus. WBU exists to transform the lives of these students, so it is a blessing to prepare for another great school year,” said Dr. Jeremy Dutschke, vice president for enrollment management and student services.

Returning students will move into residence halls on Sunday, August 19.

Convocation takes place on Wednesday, August 22. The special chapel service, which will officially launch WBU as a university, is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Manley Chapel. Williams has transitioned from a college to a university over the past several months.

For a complete list of Ascend 2018 events, visit www.williamsbaptistuniversity.com.

WBU Welcomes CentriKid Camp

Williams Baptist University is welcoming CentriKid camps to its campus this week. Along with 30 college and seminary student staffers, there were 318 CentriKid campers enjoying the WBU campus.

CentriKid is an overnight, week long camp for 3rd–6th graders. The focus at CentriKid is all about making sure no child leaves camp without a life-changing encounter with Christ.

“It is our pleasure to host CentriKids on the campus of Williams Baptist University. What a privilege it is for WBU to be able to extend its mission of compassionately shaping students’ lives through the development of these Centrikid campers for Kingdom purposes,” said Jeremy Dutschke, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services.

This year over 10 states are represented at camp including Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama.

“We look forward to seeing the fruits of these campers’ experiences for God’s glory now and in the future,” said Dutschke.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

WBU Installs University Signs

New signage at the entrance to Williams Baptist University makes it clear a transition has taken place. The Walnut Ridge institution has moved from college to university this summer, and two prominent signs installed in recent days reflect that change.

A tall, illuminated sign was completed over the weekend along Highway 67 at Fulbright Ave., where drivers turn toward the Williams campus. And, once visitors arrive at the campus, the large, brick entry gate now has Williams Baptist University emblazoned across the front.

“After all these months of planning, the new signs make it seem very real to us that Williams is now a university. The excitement among our alumni and friends has been the most gratifying part of this phase, with social media photos of the new signs lighting up the Internet,” said Brett Cooper, vice president for institutional advancement.

Williams announced in September that it would begin the transition from college to university, with the change becoming official this summer. This fall’s students will be the first to enroll under the name Williams Baptist University.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts university in Walnut Ridge.

WBU Transitions to New Email Domain

Williams Baptist University is nearing the completion of its college to university transition and WBU’s email domain has been one of the most recent updates. To reach Williams employees by email, the domain address is now @williamsbu.edu.

“This is another exciting facet of our change to a university, and we are pleased to launch our email and website as williamsbu.edu. The change of electronic addresses is actually a major undertaking, and we extend our deepest thanks to the Williams IT department for the long, hard hours they have invested in making this transition happen so smoothly,” said Dr. Brett Cooper, vice president for institutional advancement.

WBU has been operating as a university throughout the summer, and a full-campus transition as been several months in the making. The first semester as Williams Baptist University is set to kick off with freshman orientation in August.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts university located in Walnut Ridge.

WBU Students Join Alpha Psi Omega

Three students at Williams Baptist University have been inducted into Alpha Psi Omega, a national honorary drama organization.

Inductees were: Maggie Morgan of Mammoth Spring, Ark., Kristin Britt of Chandler, Texas, and Ali Turbyeville of Portia, Ark.

Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society is an American recognition honor society for participants in collegiate theatre.

Williams is Christian, liberal arts university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

WBU’s Harris Awarded Grant

Rodney Harris

Rodney Harris

Dr. Rodney Harris, assistant professor of history at Williams Baptist University, has been awarded the Lynn E. May Study Grant from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, Tenn.

“This grant will allow me to use the materials in the Southern Baptist Archives this summer to continue working on my project entitled “Brooks Hays and Southern Moderation,” says Harris.

Hays was a politician from Arkansas who served in Congress from 1943 until his defeat in 1959. He was defeated due to his attempts to broker a moderate course of action during the Little Rock Central High Crisis.

Hays also served in the Southern Baptist Convention as chairman of the Christian Life Commission, a precursor to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and was then elected president of the SBC.

He later went on to serve as an advisor to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, as well as teaching at Rutgers and leading the Ecumencial Institute at Wake Forrest University.

Harris will present “Brooks Hays and Southern Moderation” at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in November. “It is part of a larger project I am working on, a biography of Brooks Hays, that I hope to get published,” said Harris.

The grants are in memory of Lynn E. May Jr., who served as executive director of the Historical Commission from 1971 to 1995 and who was instrumental in the establishment of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts university in Walnut Ridge.