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.

Williams Launches Pre-Law Society

A new Pre-Law Society is set to launch this fall at Williams Baptist University. The society will provide coordinated support and valuable resources for students interested in going to law school after graduating with their bachelor’s degrees.

Joshua Clem of Walnut Ridge, and Jaitlin Pitts of Auburn, Ala., have been selected as the society’s inaugural student officers for the 2018-19 school year. Clem, a senior Christian Ministries major, will serve as president and Pitts, a senior finance major, will serve as secretary.

“We hope the the new Pre-Law Society will provide WBU students who are interested in law school with an opportunity to interact with other students who wish to attend law school, to meet and interact with legal professionals, as well as admission representatives from law schools,” said Dr. Rodney Harris, assistant professor of history at WBU.

Harris spearheaded efforts to organize the society and will serve as the faculty advisor to the group, along with Dr. Blake Perkins, assistant professor and chair of the history department.

“Williams’s rigorous liberal arts curriculum, especially with its emphasis on critical thinking skills and Christian ethics, provides excellent and unique opportunities for students who are preparing to apply to law schools after completing their four year degrees. WBU graduates already have a stellar record of admission to law schools, and the addition of the new Pre-law Society will greatly enhance these pre-professional opportunities for our students,” said Perkins.

The society will host speakers and activities for WBU students beginning this fall.

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

Weaver Honored for Years of Service

Dr. Brad Baine with Dr. RoseMary Weaver

Dr. Brad Baine with Dr. RoseMary Weaver

Williams Baptist University has honored Dr. RoseMary Weaver for her years of service and dedication to the institution. Weaver will retire at the end of this month, after implementing WBU’s new online and graduate programs.

Dr. Brad Baine, academic dean at Williams, presented Weaver with a plaque in recognition of her time at Williams.

“Dr. Weaver has developed education degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Williams. Her superior ability to build quality academic programs is remarkable,” said Baine. “Dr. Weaver has positively impacted many lives through her teaching. Williams Baptist University has been blessed by Dr. Weaver’s leadership during her years of service.”

Weaver was the first chair of the Williams Teacher Education Program in the 1990s and guided WBU in beginning its Bachelor of Science in Education degree. Since then, the WTEP has earned wide respect across the region as it has prepared teachers in eight education majors.

After leaving Williams, Weaver served as curriculum coordinator for the Pocahontas School District, but she returned to WBU to help launch its graduate and online programs. In her most recent role, she has guided Williams in launching its first graduate degree, the Master of Arts in Teaching, which began last year, and in preparing its Master of Science in Education degree, which will launch this fall.

Williams offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in various areas of study. For more information, visit williamsbaptistuniversity.com.

WBU Alum Reggie Smith Establishes Minority Scholarship

Reggie Smith knows first-hand the struggles minority students often face in funding their college education. Now, he is stepping forward to help those students get a Williams Baptist University education.

Smith, a 1985 Williams alumnus, has launched the Reggie Smith Foundation Minority Scholarship for WBU students, and the foundation has announced its first class of recipients. Students who will receive the scholarship this fall are: Dara Britton of Raytown, Mo., Travon Cobb of Dumas, Erik Mercado of Senath, Mo., Jada Olloway of Jonesboro and Ricardo Quintero of Caracas, Venezuela.

“Looking back on my educational experiences, I wanted to see if we could help minority students who attend Williams in getting access to some much needed financial assistance to continue their educational pursuit,” Smith said.

Photo of students who received Smith Scholarship.

(left to right) Dr. Brett Cooper, Ricardo Quintero, Jada Olloway, Dara Britton, Erik Mercado and WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.

Smith, who lives in the Dallas area, is a graduate of Pocahontas High School. He is a US Army veteran, and for the past 24 years he has been in sales management within the pharma/biotech industry. He said he established the scholarship to assist and inspire a new generation of Williams students.

“I hope it helps them bridge a financial gap they may have in acquiring their education. I also hope it inspires them to see a person of color being in a position to reach back and help someone and that they too can do that one day,” he noted.

Smith said the foundation plans to select recipients and award the scholarships annually.

“It is incredibly gratifying to see one of our alumni take the initiative and help today’s students follow in his footsteps at Williams. On top of that, it has been very enjoyable working with Mr. Smith as his foundation has developed this scholarship. We are truly grateful to the Reggie Smith Foundation for assisting WBU students in such a meaningful way,” said Brett Cooper, vice president for institutional advancement.

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

Midkiff, Startup Receive Professor Emeritus Status

Photo of man and woman.

Dr. Kenneth Startup and Dr. Sheri Midkiff

Upon their retirement from Williams Baptist University, Dr. Sheri Midkiff and Dr. Kenneth Startup have each been given the title of professor emeritus. Midkiff is retiring after 43 years of service to Williams, and Dr. Startup spent more than 35 years at WBU.

Awarding the title professor emeritus enables Williams to acknowledge faculty who have provided meritorious and longstanding service to the university. Any member of the faculty who retires after 20 years of full-time service to WBU, with a minimum rank of assistant professor, and who has rendered “distinguished and meritorious services” to the university, may be appointed professor emeritus.

Midkiff spent her time at Williams as a professor of English. Along with professor emeritus, a new scholarship has been created in honor of Midkiff’s legacy and service to the institution. WBU has established the Dr. Sheri Midkiff English Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for select English and English education majors at Williams

“Dr. Midkiff has taught for 43 years with genuine passion and presented the content of her courses in a dynamic fashion,” said Dr. Brad Baine, vice president for academic affairs at Williams. “During her years of service, she has put forth extraordinary efforts in all her institutional responsibilities. Dr. Midkiff has truly provided distinguished and meritorious service to the university.”

Over the course of his time at Williams, Startup served as a professor of history, chair of the history department, chair of the Division of Arts and Sciences, and spent many years as the vice president for academic affairs. He concluded his career as the interim president. WBU’s historic WWII era chapel will now be named Startup Chapel, in honor of Startup’s leadership at Williams.

“Dr. Startup has been an exceptional faculty member and leader for Williams for the last 35 years,” added Baine. “He has earned the highest compliments from his students and colleagues, due to his teaching, leadership and commitment to the university on and off campus. As attested by the faculty and staff, Dr. Startup has devoted 35 years of superior service to Williams.”

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

Williams Students Teach Children to Save

Williams Baptist College education students joined Integrity First Bank of Pocahontas to present the 21st annual Teach Children to Save Day at Alma Spikes Elementary School last month. Teach Children to Save Day is a nationwide program of the American Bankers Association. Its aim is to teach students about the value of saving their money.

Since 1997, Integrity First Bank has partnered with Williams Baptist College Teacher Education Program to bring Teach Children to Save Day to over 3,200 students. This year, the Williams students presented the lesson on saving to 175 Alma Spikes second graders. Integrity First Bank employees assisted the student teachers with the lessons and the bank presented each second grader a piggy bank with a dollar bill inside.

Young men and women pose for photograph.

Williams education students and Integrity First Bank of Pocahontas joined together for Teach Children to Save Day.

Williams is a Christian University in Walnut Ridge. It officially becomes Williams Baptist University this summer.

Williams Graduates Final “College” Class

Williams Baptist College will hold its final commencement exercises under the title of “college” this Saturday, May 5. Last fall, WBC announced the name change to Williams Baptist University, and as the final student walks across the stage to receive the final Williams Baptist College diploma, WBC will take one more step in its transition to WBU.

With more than 90 students ready to receive their diplomas, the added significance of this year’s commencement is not lost on the graduating class.

“To be in the last class graduating class as Williams Baptist College is a surreal aspect to grasp,” said Makayla Marshall. “For me, it means that I can say I graduated from an amazing college that will now be an amazing university. We are at the end of something great, but it is only the beginning of something greater.”

Marshall is from Farmington, Mo., and will receive her degree in Christian ministries.

Fellow graduate Ryan Whittle echoed Marshall’s sentiments.

“I came to Williams expecting to just earn my degree and wrestle. Four years have now gone by and its incredible how much more God provided for me while here at WBC. I came as a part of WBC’s first ever wrestling program and then the first ever Greco-Roman program. So, it’s only fitting I get to be a part of WBC’s ‘last something,’ too,” he said.

Whittle is from Greenwich, Conn., and will receive his degree in health and physical education.

Williams graduates buy in to the mission and purpose of the institution, and often walk away with much more than a degree. While that foundation will remain unchanged, the class of 2018 will forever mark a turning point in Williams’s rich history.

“The history of Williams Baptist College is one of the main characteristics of the college, and to be etched into such a prolific background means something special to me. I will always be able to say that Williams Baptist College made a positive impact on my life before it was deemed Williams Baptist University,” added Alec Scott.

Scott is from Rector, Ark., and will receive his degree in business administration.

Saturday’s commencement will mark the institution’s final official ceremony as Williams Baptist College.

Graduation will begin at 10 a.m. in Williams’s Southerland-Mabee Center, and Dr. Sheri Midkiff will deliver the commencement address. Midkiff is retiring at the end of this semester after 43 years as an English professor at WBC.

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