Williams Baptist University Business Students Claim 12 State Awards

Business students from Williams Baptist University came home with a dozen awards from the State Leadership Conference of Phi Beta Lambda.  The annual event was held April 5 and 6 in North Little Rock, Ark.

A group of college students poses for a photograph.

Of the 12 awards won by Williams students, four were first place honors.

The team of Drew Adcock, Tori Lovelady and Hannah Vernon took first place in the Business Decision Making competition.

Rachel Franco, Georgia Mara and Sofia Zarazua teamed up to take first in Hospitality Management.

Grady Majors took the first place trophy in the Marketing Analysis and Decision Making category.

Grady Majors and Allen Thompson combined to win first in Strategic Analysis and Decision Making.

Brayden Brewer and Allen Thompson earned third place honors in Emerging Business Issues.

Drew Adcock took third place in Personal Finance.

Kelly Cook was the third place winner in Justice Administration.

Fernando Moreto took third in Financial Concepts.

Brayden Brewer was fourth place in Marketing Concepts.

Tori Lovelady took fourth in Accounting Principles.

Hannah Vernon earned fifth place in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.

And Luis Vojnovic was fifth place in Sports Management and Marketing.

Phi Beta Lambda is the collegiate extension of Future Business Leaders of America.

The WBU Department of Business offers three bachelor’s degree majors: business administration, finance and marketing.

Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

Williams Baptist University’s Harris Awarded Research Grant

Dr. Rodney Harris of the Williams Baptist University history faculty been awarded a research grant from Wake Forest University.  Harris is receiving the Provost’s Grant for Library Research for 2019/20.

Photograph of a man wearing glasses and a sport coat in a library.
Dr. Rodney Harris

The grant is worth up to $1,500 and will cover the costs associated with visiting the Wake Forest campus for the purpose of conducting research in their Special Collections and Archives, held in the Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

The grant will allow Harris to continue his research and writing about the life and career of Lawrence Brooks Hays.  Hays was a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, chairman of the Christian Life Commission, U.S. congressman from Arkansas, two time candidate for governor of Arkansas and staff assistant to both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Hays also served as director of the Ecumenical Institute at Wake Forest University and chairman of the North Carolina Good Neighbor Council.   Part of the Brooks Hays papers are housed in Special Collections and Archives at the Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

Previously, Harris received a research grant to use the Hays papers at the Southern Baptist Library and Archives in Nashville, Tenn., and he has done extensive research within the Hays papers at the University of Arkansas.

Harris is assistant professor of history and political science at WBU.

Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

Williams Baptist University Board of Trustees Approves Budget, New Programs

The Board of Trustees at Williams Baptist University has approved the budget for next year, voted to add new academic programs and authorized a new fundraising foundation for the university.  Trustees also awarded professor emeritus status to WBU’s longest serving faculty member as the board met in regular session Friday, April 5.

WBU will operate with a $14.3 million budget in the 2019-20 school year.  The board approved the budget, which will take effect when the new fiscal year begins July 1.  The budget reflects a three percent increase over last year’s spending plan.

“This budget provides careful stewardship of the university’s resources, and it is focused on our mission of providing an excellent, holistically Christian liberal arts education.  More than dollars on a spreadsheet, this budget reflects our ongoing commitment to transform the lives of WBU students,” said President Dr. Stan Norman.

New academic programs are coming to WBU, following board action Friday.  A Bachelor of Science in K-12 Instrumental Music Education will be launched for students who wish to become instrumental music teachers.

The board also approved curriculum for the new Bachelor of Science in Health Studies – Gerontology, and curriculum was approved for a criminal justice concentration block within the liberal arts degree program.

Trustees gave their approval to a new organization that will help raise resources for WBU.  The Williams Baptist University Foundations for the Future was established with the board vote, and an executive committee was approved for the group.

J.R. Cox of Walnut Ridge, Ark., will serve as chairman of the group’s executive committee.  Jim Hayes of Franklin, Tenn., will be vice chairman, and Joe Shell of Batesville, Ark., was appointed as secretary.  Jay Shell of Batesville, Board Chairman Dave Russell of Jonesboro, Ark., and Trustee Jeff Dial of Little Rock, Ark., will also serve on the committee.

“The Foundations for the Future and the supporters who have agreed to help lead it will represent a major step forward for WBU.  The executive committee will provide us with valuable guidance as we seek to provide Williams with the resources it needs to fully meet its mission,” said Dr. Doug Walker, vice president for institutional advancement and operations.

The list of 2019 graduates was approved by the board.  More than 75 students are expected to graduate at commencement exercises on May 4, including the first graduates from WBU’s master’s program.  Five graduates will be conferred the Master of Arts in Teaching degree, making them the first to complete the university’s graduate program.

And the board voted to extend professor emeritus status to Prof. Joy Ring, who is retiring this spring after 54 years at WBU.  Ring began service on the Williams business faculty in 1965.

“Joy Ring epitomizes the incredible dedication to mission we find all across the WBU campus,” Norman said.  “She has poured her life into this institution and its students.  We appreciate her more than words can express, and the title of professor emeritus is entirely fitting for her.”

Trustees to the WBU board are appointed by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, which owns and operates the university.  The board meets in regular session three times each year.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

Lane is New Campus Ministries Director at Williams Baptist University

Williams Baptist University is welcoming a new leader to its campus ministries program.  Shannon Lane has begun work as WBU’s director of campus ministries, where he oversees a wide range of duties relating to the spiritual development of students.

Photograph of man with beard and eyeglasses.
Shannon Lane

“I’m excited about leading campus ministries because I love college students.  I love where they are in life. They think they can change the world, and they might just be able to do that.  In this position, we can point them to changing the world for Jesus,” Lane said.

As director of campus ministries at WBU, Lane will lead a comprehensive program that promotes discipleship, worship and evangelism, as well as domestic and international missions.  In addition to coordinating many of the program’s activities, he will also train students to be leaders in ministry activities, both on campus and abroad.

“Spiritual development is a central and crucial facet of Christian higher education, and we believe Shannon Lane is the ideal person to spearhead that effort at WBU.  He has experience and a passion for campus ministry, and he formed an instant connection with our students. We are delighted to have Shannon and Amber as part of our campus family at Williams,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU.

Lane, a native of Rogers, Ark., is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, where he earned the Masters of Christian Education with emphasis in college ministry.

“My first objective is getting a good feel for the atmosphere and the personality of the students,” Lane said.  “You can’t just take a ministry and plug it in. You have to fit it to where the students are and pray about where the Lord wants them to be.  My job is to aid the school and aid the students in getting where they need to be.”

Lane and his wife, Amber, have three children.  The family recently moved to Walnut Ridge.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

WBU Announces Hiring of Walker, Administrative Restructuring

Williams Baptist University has announced a restructuring of its administration, highlighted by the hiring of a new vice president.  Dr. Doug Walker (pictured above), who has served at several respected institutions in Christian higher education, has been hired as Vice President for University Advancement & Operations, and other administrators have assumed new responsibilities.

“Dr. Walker brings significant expertise and a wealth of fundraising experience to this position, and we are delighted to have him join us at Williams Baptist University.  Doug’s desire to be a part of WBU is a strong affirmation of the quality of this institution and the bright future before us,” said Dr. Stan Norman, President of Williams.

“Soon after my arrival, I began praying that God would lead us to the person who could build upon the strong advancement foundation already here and move us forward in our fundraising efforts.  We believe that God led us to Doug Walker, and our ensuing conversations and interactions confirmed that God was calling him to Williams.  Both Doug and Virginia are faithful followers of the Lord and will be welcomed members of the Williams family.”

Walker comes to WBU from Trinity International University in Illinois, where he has served since 2015 as Associate Vice President for Advancement and University Relations.

He was at Union University in Tennessee from 2009 to 2015, where he was Executive Director of the Union University Foundation and Director of Major Gifts.

Walker served from 1993 to 2009 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, where he was Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

“Virginia and I are excited about the opportunity of serving the Lord through Williams Baptist University and grateful for the Lord’s call through Dr. Norman.  President Norman’s vision for Williams and Christian higher education is exciting, and we are thrilled to join his team,” Walker said.

An Alabama native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Alabama, a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Philosophy from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Walker, who starts work at WBU on Feb. 4, will also serve as the Chief Operating Officer.

Dr. Brett Cooper

Other Cabinet members are assuming new roles at Williams, as well.  Dr. Brett Cooper has been appointed Vice President for Creative Services & Technology and Special Assistant to the President. Cooper will be responsible for communications and marketing, as well as information technology at WBU.

“These enhanced responsibilities will allow WBU to more fully utilize Dr. Cooper’s expertise in communications and marketing, intensifying our focus on strategic branding and messaging,” Norman said.  “Additionally, he will work closely with me, providing counsel and taking the lead on special projects and initiatives.”

Dr. Brad Baine

Dr. Brad Baine’s administrative role has also expanded, as he assumes the new title of Vice President for Academic Affairs & Campus Life. In addition to academics, Baine will oversee areas and departments directly involving students, including athletics, student development and campus ministry.

“This structure facilitates an integration and synergy for the collaboration and planning of all matters pertaining to students.  Dr. Baine’s expertise in academic affairs and his passion for Williams students will suit him very well in this role,” Norman commented.

Angela Flippo

Angela Flippo is another recent addition to the Williams cabinet, joining the university in September as Vice President for Enrollment Management.

“WBU continues to benefit from the outstanding leadership of Ms. Flippo,” Norman noted.  “Her efforts are already making a difference, generating encouraging results in our recruiting efforts for next fall and beyond.  Her singular focus will remain on this absolutely crucial area.”

Aaron Andrews

As part of the restructure, the position of bursar has been created to provide supervision for business affairs and human resources.  Aaron Andrews has been appointed Interim Bursar.  Andrews is a 15-year veteran of WBU, having worked as Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving.

“This new administrative structure and talented team of leaders will help us fulfill the strategic vision laid out in our plan, ‘Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives,’” Norman said.  “Tremendous days lie ahead for Williams Baptist University, and I believe that these cabinet and administrative transitions better enable us to advance our mission as we move boldly toward the future God has in store for us.”

WBU Unveils “Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives” Strategic Vision

Williams Baptist University has unveiled its strategic vision for the future in an initiative named “Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives.”  The vision, recently approved by WBU’s faculty and its board of trustees, will guide the university’s planning efforts over the next three to five years.  The university also released its newly stated Core Values.

“’Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives’ reflects extensive evaluation of the strengths of this great university and the needs it will address moving forward.  The result is a bold vision that will help establish WBU as a preeminent Christian university in the state of Arkansas beyond,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of Williams.

The strategic plan is the result of the collaborative work of administration, faculty, and other members of the university community.  The resulting vision is set forth in six broad goals:

  1. Enhance Employee Quality of Life
  2. Develop Innovative Academic Programs
  3. Enrich Christian University Identity and Culture
  4. Strengthen Enrollment Management and Marketing
  5. Improve Campus Infrastructure
  6. Increase Student Support through Endowed Scholarships and Innovative Programs

“The initiatives outlined in this vision will move WBU forward in a significant way,” Norman commented.   “This plan outlines goals for enhanced support of faculty, staff, and students, expanded academic offerings, strengthened marketing and student recruitment, improved facilities and, above all, a continued emphasis on our identity as a Christian university.”

Each of the goals includes a detailed set of initiatives, as well as a vision for what the goals will accomplish for Williams by the year 2023.  The WBU president said the strategic vision will now be used to establish priorities for the university each year in its budgeting and planning processes.

“We developed an exhaustive list of needs and objectives that we want to address over the next three to five years, and then we prioritized those objectives and categorized them accordingly.  ‘Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives’ is a strategic vision that provides a clear roadmap for WBU as it plans for the future,” Norman said.

The strategic vision places a high priority on enhancing quality of life for WBU employees, which includes enhancing salaries and making other improvements for faculty and staff.  “WBU will continue to strive to provide the highest possible level of employee benefits, including health care, retirement, and university housing.  WBU will also work to improve fitness and recreation opportunities for faculty, staff, and their families,” the document states.

In developing innovative academic programs, the plan aims to expand the university’s influence and mission through both graduate and undergraduate programming.  The vision says, “Although not limited to the following areas, WBU will proactively identify and strategically implement educational initiatives and degree programs in the fields of health care, counseling, business, education, and ministry. WBU will be known both for excellence in the quality of academic programming and for innovation in the use of technology for all educational initiatives.”

The vision also places a priority on enriching WBU’s Christian university identity and culture, stating, “WBU will enrich its identity and campus culture, producing an environment befitting an outstanding Christ-centered university.  Christian commitment will be pervasive and transformative in all aspects of university life.”  Among the areas to be addressed are spiritual life programs, student life activities, strengthened alumni-relations, enriched school traditions, and improved strategic branding initiatives.

To continue to grow its student body, the plan calls for WBU to strengthen its enrollment management and marketing functions, asserting, “By 2023, WBU will have increased image and heightened brand awareness locally and nationally.  Special attention will be devoted to increasing marketing initiatives within the state of Arkansas.”  The plan specifically targets student recruitment, donor support, alumni involvement and brand awareness for growth.

Improving the university’s infrastructure is a priority, as well.  “WBU will develop and implement a plan to meet the needs of growing academic and athletic programs, space for the fine arts programs and performances, student resident facilities, and other projects as identified.  Resources to fund these initiatives will be identified and developed through strategic-planning processes,” the vision notes.

Finally, the strategic vision aims to help Williams students find the resources to attend the university, noting, “WBU will aggressively expand existing scholarship programs as well as increase scholarship resources to recruit and retain targeted populations.  The university will launch innovative programs and initiatives to assist students in funding their WBU education.”

Full details of “Renewing Minds, Transforming Lives” can be found on the WBU website at https://williamsbu.edu/renewing-minds/.

Along with its strategic vision, WBU released its Core Values, which summarize foundational principles and priorities of the institution.  The Core Values were developed this fall by a task force of faculty, staff and administration.  They are identified as:

  1. Christ-Centered Focus
  2. Academic Excellence
  3. Spiritual Formation
  4. Nurturing Community
  5. Servant Leadership

Each of the Core Values includes a detailed explanation of its impact on WBU.

“These Core Values are not new to WBU, but rather reflect what this institution has endeavored to do throughout its 77-year history.  Countless lives have been changed at WBU because of these Core Values, and this document simply codifies those values in writing.  These beliefs embody the biblical commitments that have guided the university in the past, and we believe these convictions will continue to direct us as we work to advance our mission of distinctive, Christian higher education,” said Norman.

The Core Values were also approved by the board of trustees at their meeting Dec. 7.  They can be read in full at https://williamsbu.edu/core-values/.

WBU Board Welcomes New Members

The Board of Trustees at Williams Baptist University welcomed seven new members at its meeting Friday, Dec. 7.  The board, which met on the WBU campus in Walnut Ridge, Ark., also approved a new minor in political science and heard an upbeat report on student recruitment.

It was the first meeting for seven trustees who were appointed this fall to the 24-member board.  The new trustees include: Jamar Andrews, pastor of Word Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ark.; Cliff Cabaness II, a businessman from Ft. Smith, Ark.; Dr. Jeff Crawford, lead pastor of ministries at Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.; Dr. James Nichols, pastor of First Baptist Church in Marion, Ark.; Zac Reno, lead pastor at Summit Church in Benton, Ark.; Dr. Jim Shaw, pastor of discipleship at First Baptist Church in Rogers, Ark.; and Dr. Jody Smotherman, vice president at White River Medical Center in Batesville, Ark.

“This is a great new group of trustees that has quickly embraced the mission of Williams Baptist University.  They are enthusiastic about serving on our board, and we are very excited to have them join us as we continue to expand the influence of WBU across the state of Arkansas and beyond,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of Williams.

In academics, the board approved a new minor in political science, and also voted to change the name of the history department to the Department of History & Political Science. The new minor will be available to WBU students starting next fall.

The board got good news on student recruitment for next year.  Angela Flippo, vice president for enrollment management, reported that applications from prospective new students are up 47 percent compared to the same period last year, and inquiries from interested students have doubled.  WBU has also seen a 58 percent increase in the number of interested students making campus visits this fall.

The Williams board had voted at its last meeting, in September, to enter into an agreement with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a prominent national firm that specializes in student recruitment and financial aid.  Flippo credited the firm with helping WBU boost its recruitment numbers so far this year.

WBU trustees are appointed by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and they serve three-year terms.

WBU Science Students Selected for Bosch STEM Program

Williams Baptist University has selected three science students for a pilot research program in marine conservation.  The program is made possible by a grant WBU received this year from the Bosch Community Fund to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

WBU students chosen to take part in the program are Caleb Hickman of Pine Bluff, Ark.; Paige Johnson of Saffell, Ark.; and Kyrsten McLemore of Paragould, Ark.  Hickman and Johnson are both juniors at Williams, and McLemore is a sophomore.

The students will participate in preparatory activities and study during the spring semester and will then accompany three 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.

Dr. Ann Paterson, Nell Mondy Chair of Natural Sciences and professor of biology at WBU, will accompany the students for their Florida research, as well as Dr. Christopher Polachic and Dr. Steve McMann of the Williams science faculty.

The research is being done in conjunction with A Rocha, a Christian nature conservation organization.

WBU received a $12,000 STEM grant from the Bosch Community Fund to launch the research project.  The Bosch Company operates a plant in Walnut Ridge.

Pictured above are (left to right) Dr. Ann Paterson, Kyrsten McLemore, Paige Johnson, Caleb Hickman and Dr. Christopher Polachic.

WBU Alumni Honors Presented to Daniel, Guenrich

Williams Baptist University alumni David Daniel and Jake Guenrich were honored during Homecoming festivities Saturday, Nov. 3.  Daniel was recognized as WBU’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus, while Guenrich was presented the Outstanding Young Alumnus award.

Daniel, a 1974 Williams graduate, serves as the director of athletics for Jonesboro Public Schools.  During Daniel’s nine years in that role, Jonesboro has won 41 state championships and made several notable upgrades to its athletic facilities.  He has worked a total 43 years in the field of education, coaching on all levels from 7th grade to NCAA Division 1 basketball.

Daniel (pictured above at right with Dr. Stan Norman) is active in a wide range of community and athletic organizations, and the City of Jonesboro declared David Daniel Day in his honor in 2012.  He and his wife, Beverly, have two sons and four grandchildren. They are actively involved at Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro.

Guenrich, a 2010 WBU graduate, is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge.  The church has baptized 107 new members during his tenure as pastor and has added several new ministries, including a community food closet.  Guenrich also remains active on the Williams campus, including assisting the student move-in activities each fall.

Guenrich and his wife, Stephanie, have four children.

“One of the great pleasures of Homecoming is recognizing alumni who have graduated from WBU and gone on to make a major impact through their careers and their Christian service.  Mr. Daniel and Rev. Guenrich epitomize just how Williams shapes the lives of its students to make a difference in this world, and we were proud to honor both of them at Homecoming,” said Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU.

Both alumni were honored during the annual Homecoming Celebration, which was held before a large crowd in Manley Chapel.