Williams Employees Honored for Years of Service

Williams Baptist College employees who have reached milestones in their service to the institution were recognized recently. Service pins were presented to WBC faculty and staff in honor of their dedication to the school.

Williams Baptist College Employee Service

Employees Honored (left to right): Barbara Turner, Tony Conley, Peggy Chadwick, Dr. Brad Baine, Jo Carol Phillips, Jerry Gibbens and Stacey Dunlap. Not pictured: Lynn, Pennington, Aneita Cooper and Angela Milligan.

Professor Jerry Gibbens was recognized for his 50 years at Williams with a service pin and check. Gibbens was also honored during the 2017 commencement ceremony last May, when the Maddox Center’s newly renovated atrium was named the Jerry D. Gibbens Atrium in celebration of his WBC career. He is chair of the department of English and communication arts and the chair of the division of arts and sciences.

Barbara Turner, who is the director of financial aid, received her 20 year service pin. Honored for 15 years were Jo Carol Phillips and Peggy Chadwick. Phillips is the administrative assistant in the office of the president, and Chadwick serves as a library technician.

Honored for 10 years of service were Dr. Brad Baine, Stacey Dunlap and Lynn Pennington. Baine is the vice president for academic affairs, Dunlap is the assistant director of financial aid, and Pennington works as an adjunct instructor of music.

Those receiving their 5 year service pins were Aneita Cooper, Tony Conley and Angela Milligan. Cooper serves as the director of counseling, Conley is the director of the Williams physical plant, and Milligan is a grounds technician.

The recognitions were made during WBC’s employee Christmas luncheon in December.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts College in Walnut Ridge. It will officially become Williams Baptist University in July.

Gill Named Provost at University of the Ozarks

University of the Ozarks President Richard Dunsworth announced today the appointment of Dr. Alyson A. Gill as the University’s new provost.

Alyson Gill

Dr. Alyson A. Gill was appointed as provost of University of the Ozarks.

Currently the associate provost for instructional innovation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Gill will begin her new duties at U of O on Feb. 1. As the chief academic officer at Ozarks, Gill will oversee all academic functions of the University, including the four divisions, the Jones Learning Center, and Student Support Services. She will also provide senior leadership in the areas of accreditation and assessment.

“Dr. Gill embraces the mission and core values of University of the Ozarks,” said Dunsworth. “She is a thoughtful, energetic and personable administrator who has demonstrated an ability to work collaboratively with students, faculty and staff to achieve goals. Her experience as a faculty member and administrator, her proven leadership in the areas of technology and innovation, and her natural curiosity make her the ideal candidate for the position of chief academic officer.”

Gill also is an associate professor of art history at UMass Amherst. She previously served 15 years as an instructor and professor of art history at Arkansas State University, earning tenure before leaving in 2015 to accept the position to lead instructional innovation at UM Amherst.

“From the moment that I first stepped foot onto the University of the Ozarks campus, I felt the spirit of this place and felt welcomed and at home,” Gill said. “As an art historian I often find myself in the role of storyteller—engaging through stories and bringing the past to life through words or interactive models. When I was on campus, I felt as if the story were instead being told to me, and in those narrative strands from students, faculty, staff, and community members, I not only saw a deep commitment and love of place, but I also felt a greater joining of my intellectual, leadership, and spiritual lives.”

At Arkansas State University, Gill served as the founding director for the Center for Digital Initiatives. At UMass Amherst, she led a staff of 30-40 providing innovative tools for faculty to use in their courses to support their pedagogies.

The six-month, nationwide search drew 76 applicants, according to Dr. Steve Oatis, dean of the Division of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication and chair of the search committee. The committee narrowed the pool of candidates to eight for video interviews and three finalists were chosen for on-campus interviews.

“Dr. Gill is an innovative thinker who is well experienced in educational assessment and instructional technology, two areas that will be particularly important to our campus as we continue to grow in the coming years,” Oatis said. “The search committee also was very impressed by her enthusiasm, her communication skills, and her readiness and ability to understand many of the challenges and opportunities that are unique to Ozarks.”

Gill joins Ozarks during a time of record growth and amid one of the most ambitious capital campaigns in its history. The University hit an all-time enrollment high of 755 students during the Fall 2017 Semester and is in the third year of a five-year, $55 million campaign to enhance student scholarships and improve science and athletic facilities.

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at Ozarks and I am thrilled to be part of this place and the leadership team,” Gill said. “I see opportunities to not only build on the campus vision set forth through the strategic planning process and master plan, but to work collaboratively across campus to hone and build on that vision. I am looking forward to exploring new ways together to further engage our students through student-centered learning and a personalized educational experience, to create collaborative learning spaces, to help faculty realize their goals as teachers and scholars, and to celebrate the unique place that is University of the Ozarks.”

Gill earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She earned a master’s degree in art history from University of California-Irvine and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Memphis. She is currently working on an MBA at UMass Amherst. Her husband, Dr. Eric Cave, is a professor of philosophy at Arkansas State University.

She replaces Dr. Travis Feezell, who left Ozarks in 2017 to accept the presidency at Hastings College in Nebraska.

ROTC program is re-established at U of O

For the first time in almost 30 years University of the Ozarks students will have the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

The University has re-established its ROTC program for the Spring 2018 Semester in collaboration with the University of Central Arkansas’ (UCA) ROTC program. Ozarks last had ROTC on campus in the late 1980s.

According to U of O Assistant Vice President for Advancement Reggie Hill, approximately a dozen current Ozarks students have shown interest in being part of the new program that prepares selected students to serve as commissioned officers in the active or reserve components of the Army.

“We are excited about providing our students with another pathway to long-term success and with additional career options,” Hill said. “ROTC is a first-class leadership and management program that offers an unparalleled opportunity for personal development. ROTC is also one of the nation’s leading sources of college scholarships, which is another great benefit to our current students as well as prospective students.”

University of the Ozarks ROTC

U of O’s new program will fall under the administration of UCA’s program, which includes eight Arkansas colleges and universities and forms the Bayonet Battalion, headquartered at UCA. Ozarks is planning to add a minor in military science for the Fall 2018 Semester, according to Hill. U of O students enrolled in the ROTC program will take military science classes and leadership labs as well as conduct physical training through the Arkansas Tech University affiliate program in Russellville.

According to CPT Matthew Sweeney, assistant professor of military science and officer in charge at ATU, there are 35 students enrolled in the ROTC program at Tech.

“I am honored to be a part of helping re-establish the program at Ozarks and to help attract, motivate and develop good young officers for either the U.S. Army’s reserve components or active duty,” Sweeney said. “I’m well aware of the great academic reputation of Ozarks and I know it has high-quality students. We’re here to give those students who might have an interest in the military another option and to continue to expand the pipeline for top-quality officers as much as we can.”

Army ROTC offers two, three and four-year scholarships, awarded strictly on merit. The scholarship covers full tuition and fees. Additionally, they receive a stipend of $300 a month as a freshman, $350 a month as a sophomore, $450 a month as a junior, and $500 a month as a senior, as well as a stipend for books.

The Army ROTC Program is of modular construction and is composed of a basic and an advanced course. Enrollment in the basic course is open to all full-time students, and it carries with it no obligation for military service. Completion of the basic course is a prerequisite for application to the advanced course. Upon successful completion of the program and graduation from college, young men and women become an Army Lieutenant in either the active Army, Army National Guard, or the U.S. Army Reserve.

For more information on the University’s ROTC program, please contact the U of O Office of Admission at 479-979-1227.

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.

Williams Launches Presidential Search Process

The presidential search process has begun at Williams Baptist College. Dr. Bob Magee, chair of the presidential search committee, says Williams is now accepting applications and nominations for the seventh president of the institution, which is transitioning to Williams Baptist University.

“We are currently not governed by a set timeline, that is, with a deadline to find a president. We want to proceed with serious candidates and be divinely led until someone’s name surfaces,” said Magee, who is professor of music and chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Williams.

The search committee was assembled by J.R. Cox of Walnut Ridge, who chairs the Williams Board of Trustees, after Dr. Tom Jones announced that he was resigning the presidency to take a position in California. Cox will serve as an ex officio member of the search committee.

Other members of the committee are: Amber Grady, dean of students and a 2003 Williams graduate; board member John Hill of Jonesboro, CEO of Sulcer Rentals; board member Dr. Johnny Hutchison of Jonesboro, pastor of Highland Drive Baptist Church; board member Dr. Heather Moore of Cabot, a physician and 2003 Williams graduate; Dr. Ann Paterson, Nell I. Mondy Professor and chair of the WBC Department of Natural Sciences; Jeff Rider, WBC director of athletics and a 1985 graduate; and board member Dave Russell of Jonesboro, CEO of TEKLA Research.

The search committee has put a presidential search website together on the Williams home page, with detailed information about the university and a listing of leadership characteristics that are sought in the next president. The list details the temperament, experience and leadership skills desired in the university leader.

“Keeping in mind the leadership characteristics outlined in the search profile, we are looking for someone who can respond and react favorably to these. More importantly, we are seeking someone who feels divinely led to this university and not just a personal desire to be a president somewhere,” Magee noted.

The committee chair said there is a heavy responsibility involved with the group’s task, but he feels such pressure can be productive.

“There is naturally a certain amount of pressure that comes with this kind of responsibility. However, we do not want to work under what I call ‘negative’ effects of pressure that tend to produce frustration, sometimes panic. We prefer the ‘positive’ pressure that leads to excitement and anticipation of finding a president,” he said.

More information on the Williams presidential search, including application and nomination instructions, can be found at williamsbaptistcollege.com/presidential-search.

JBU Professor Named Emerging Public Intellectual for Literary Work

Wilson Selected to Complete Flannery O’Connor Novel

Jessica Wilson

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, JBU associate professor of creative writing, received the 2017 Emerging Public Intellectual Award from The Center of Christian Scholarship.

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, JBU associate professor of creative writing, received the 2017 Emerging Public Intellectual Award from The Center of Christian Scholarship. The $5,000 award, sponsored and adjudicated by leading intellectuals in Cardus, the Action Institute, the Center for Public Justice, the Henry Institute and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, recognizes emerging scholars in Christian academy who are making a public impact.

One of the major contributions Wilson is making is through her work to complete Flannery O’Conner’s unfinished novel, “Why Do the Heathen Rage” for publication. Approved for the honour by O’Connor’s estate in 2015, Wilson received a grant from Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, to complete the work.

Selected as one of four Visiting Fellows per semester, Wilson is residing at Biola University for the fall 2017 semester and incorporating this year’s theme “Suffering & the Good Life” into her scholarship, research and writing. This fellowship will help Wilson prepare critical comments on O’Connor’s unfinished novel as it deals with suffering. Wilson will submit the novel to O’Connor’s estate by June 1, 2018 and will present her research at the annual Table Conference on “Suffering and Flannery O’Connor.”

“Biola University’s Center for Christian Thought recognizes the necessity of the intellectual pursuits of goodness, beauty and truth as ways of increasing the kingdom of Christ.” Wilson said. “Too many universities limit themselves to creating laborers and workers, whereas God called us

all to be lovers and worshippers with our lives. I’m excited to spend time somewhere that our eternal vocation is promoted and celebrated.”

The project fulfills one of Wilson’s lifelong dreams, allowing her to give back to someone she considers a writing mentor. As the editor, one of Wilson’s challenges is moving out of the way and keeping O’Conner’s voice strong throughout.

“I’ve been a devoted O’Connor student since I was fifteen years old. To be able to give back to the woman who gave me so much is a blessing in itself.” Wilson said.

The novel asks the universal question of what exactly it means to be a human and to return to God through the interactions of a civil rights activist without faith in God, and a recent convert who unable to see his way out of injustice.

“Suffering and the Good Life” is a theme close to Wilson’s heart and may be the topic of a future book based on the research she does this semester. At the end of her time at Biola, Wilson said she hopes “to understand more about how Christ works in and through suffering in the Christian’s life, how we see the truth of this in literature.”

John Brown University is a leading private Christian university, training students to honor God and serve others since 1919. Arkansas’ top ranked regional university (U.S. News Best Colleges, 2018), JBU enrolls more than 2,500 students from 41 states and 50 countries in its traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and concurrent education programs. JBU offers more than 40 majors, with top programs including business administration, graphic design, engineering, construction management, counseling, teacher education and nursing.

Williams Students Lead Worship at Retreat

Baptist Collegiate Ministries from all over Arkansas gathered in Conway this year for the annual BCM Fall Retreat, and the music was led by the student worship team from Williams Baptist College.

WBC’s worship team consisted of five students: Tyler Eudy, lead vocalist and guitarist; Hannah Cates, vocalist; Tabor McGraw, vocalist and drums; Hannah Estes, vocalist; and Jay Ferris, bass guitar. “The goal of leading worship is to not lead for ourselves but for the glory of the Lord,” says Eudy, “and I felt God’s presence in the room with all of us at retreat.”

The retreat, held at Cold Springs Retreat Center in September, was attended by approximately 200 students, including 40 from WBC. “This is always a great weekend for our students. To see a big group of college students coming together for one purpose is encouraging to myself and the students,” said Hayes Howell, director of campus ministries at Williams.

Dr. David James, team leader for college and youth leaders with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, was the speaker for the weekend. The retreat also consisted of some friendly competition with a sand volleyball tournament as well as several breakout sessions for the students to attend.

“My wife, Elizabeth, and I had the privilege of being the speakers for two of the breakout sessions, Battling Addictive Habits and Finding Balance in Relationships. The breakout sessions are a great way for students to hear from someone they don’t normally hear from about a topic that they need encouragement in,” said Howell.

The retreat is growing larger every year and the planning has already begun for the fall of 2018.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts college in Walnut Ridge, Ark. It will become Williams Baptist University in July of 2018.

Williams Dedicates Belle Hall

(Walnut Ridge, Ark.) – The ribbon has been cut and Belle Hall, the newest residential facility at Williams Baptist College, was officially dedicated Friday, December 1. The ceremony was held at the conclusion of Williams’s regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting.

The 43-bed women’s residence hall has been housing students throughout the fall semester.

“Belle Hall is not only necessary and useful for our growing campus, it is also beautiful. The wonderful facility elevates our entire campus, and we are blessed by the new structure,” said Dr. Kenneth Startup, interim president at Williams.

Belle Hall Ribbon Cutting

Cutting the ribbon. Left to right: Melanie McKuin (sophomore from Dexter, Mo.), Charles Snapp (mayor of Walnut Ridge), Lesa Walter (Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce), J.R. Cox (chairman of Williams board of trustees), John Thomison (Lawrence County judge), Jim Tom Butler, C.L. Clark (Clark General Contractors), Connie Belle Butler, Lois Ann Butler, Corbet Clark (Clark General Contractors), Jeff Herron (Brackett-Krennerich Architects), Dr. Kenneth Startup (Williams interim president), Tony Conley (director of Williams physical plant), Gabby Dixon (director of women’s residence), Ashley Lyons (junior from Vilonia, Ark.).

Belle Hall was made possible in part by a $500,000 gift from the Jim Tom Butler family of Harrisburg. Butler has been a member of the Williams Board of Trustees, and his family has supported the college for many decades. The name for Belle Hall comes from his wife, Connie Belle Butler, and her family, and has a rich history that extends many generations.

“The Butler family’s support and generosity for this institution reaches back decades. Now, the latest expression of their support and generosity carries the Butler family legacy into future generations. We are deeply, profoundly grateful.”

Members of the Butler family, local elected officials, and Williams board members were present at the dedication.

The $2.3 million project was constructed by Clark General Contractors of Walnut Ridge, and Brackett-Krennerich & Associates Architects of Jonesboro designed the building.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts college in Walnut Ridge, Ark. It will formally become Williams Baptist University in July of 2018.

WBC Students on Mission

Williams Baptist College students have been on mission this fall in Arkansas. In October, students served at the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip in North Little Rock and also spent a weekend assisting New Faith Baptist Church in West Helena, Ark.

WBC sent 16 students to North Little Rock for the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip. The event, which began in 2010, is hosted by the Arkansas State Baptist Convention. Each year Arkansas Baptists partner with local Baptist associations to spread the love of Christ through prayer walking, evangelism, children’s activities, block parties, home repairs/yard work, health/dental clinics, and much more. The students of WBC served through block parties and prayer walking.

Williams students also spent a weekend serving with a new church plant, New Faith Baptist Church, which began in April 2015 in West Helena, Ark. “It was a successful weekend. It gave the community the understanding that there are people who care about them,” said Izah Broadus, pastor of New Faith Baptist Church.

The Williams mission team hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which included door prizes, grilling hot dogs, and a time of worship and testimonies. “I think the basketball tournament was successful and could grow into something bigger each year. No one is doing anything like that in the community,” added Broadus.

The students also led worship during the Sunday morning church service.

“This trip was one of the best I have been on. I loved seeing our students getting out of their comfort zones and showing the love of Jesus. It was such a blessing to be able to worship with Pastor Izah and New Faith. We will definitely be going back,” said Hayes Howell, director of campus ministries at WBC.

Williams is a Christian, liberal arts college in Walnut Ridge, Ark. It will formally become Williams Baptist University in July of 2018.