Williams Baptist University Announces 12 Percent Enrollment Jump

A record freshman class has pushed enrollment up by more than 12 percent on the campus of Williams Baptist University in Walnut Ridge, Ark.  The university announced its fall enrollment numbers as the WBU Board of Trustees met in regular session Friday, Sept. 13.

Enrollment is up across nearly all categories at WBU this fall, led by a class of 198 freshmen.  That figure represents a 26.9 percent increase over last year’s count of 156 freshmen.  The freshman class is the largest since Williams became a four-year institution in 1984, and is one of its largest ever.

Williams has an on-campus enrollment of 517 this semester, which is a 12.6 percent jump from the 459 students who were enrolled last fall.

“We are elated with the fall enrollment numbers, which reflect the hard work of many people across the WBU campus.  We especially commend Angela Flippo, our vice president for enrollment management, and her entire team in the admissions and financial aid offices.  They have done incredible work over the past year, and we are reaping the rewards this fall,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.

Total enrollment at WBU, which includes on-campus, online and off campus extension numbers, stands at 553, an improvement of 11.6 percent over last year’s number of 497.

The university also enjoyed an increase in its full-time equivalent (FTE), which is an important budget number for colleges and universities.  The total FTE at Williams stands at 538 this year, which is a 12.3 percent spike.

In other business, the Board of Trustees approved the formation of a prayer advisory board at WBU.  The group will be composed of volunteers who agree to pray regularly for the university and its students, and to lead efforts to have others pray for the school, as well.

“As a Christian institution, we believe firmly that God is the provider of all our blessings, and that his providence has brought WBU to where it is today.  The prayer advisory board takes seriously the work of prayer for Williams and commits to keeping the institution the subject of prayer for our many supporters,” said Norman.

The board also elected officers for the upcoming year.  Dave Russell of Jonesboro will continue his service as chair of the Williams board.  James Miller of Melbourne will serve as vice chair, while Theodis Brown of Hot Springs will be the secretary.

WBU has a 24-person board, and its members are appointed by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  Williams is owned and operated by the ABSC.

Aaron Andrews Named Bursar at WBU

Williams Baptist University has named Aaron Andrews to the position of bursar.  Andrews, a 16-year veteran of WBU, had been serving as interim bursar since earlier this year.  In the position, he oversees the financial affairs of the university.

“We asked Mr. Andrews to fill a critical position in our business office, and he quickly proved adept at everything he was called upon to do,” said Dr. Doug Walker, vice president for advancement and operations.  “His organizational ability, people skills and hard work serve him and the institution very well. We are delighted to have him in the role of bursar on a permanent basis.”

Andrews has served at WBU since 2003, and he was previously director of annual giving and alumni relations.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Hannibal-LaGrange University and a master’s in Christian education from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“I am excited to take on new responsibilities and new opportunities with this position.  We have a great business office at Williams with a committed, experienced staff that believes passionately in the work of Christian higher education.  It is a pleasure to work alongside them in serving WBU and its students,” Andrews said.

New WBU Health Studies Degree Emphasizes Gerontology

A new degree program at Williams Baptist University will help students prepare for careers related to healthcare, with an emphasis on those who are aging. WBU is launching the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies: Gerontology this fall.

The hybrid degree program includes courses from several academic disciplines, and it is intended to provide students a well-rounded background for careers related to health care.

“This interdisciplinary degree includes courses in biology, psychology, business, physical education and Christian ministries and could be suitable for a student whose primary interest is in any of those areas, not just someone interested in health professions,” said Dr. Ann Paterson, Nell Mondy Chair of Natural Sciences at WBU.

The new degree program is intentionally flexible, aimed toward students whose desire is working with senior adults across a variety of career paths. Paterson, who helped design the curriculum, said that is one of the strengths of the hybrid program.

“There is a wide range of options, and students will tailor the degree to their specific interests,” Paterson said. “For example, someone interested in medicine would need electives in chemistry and physics and may want additional upper level science classes. Someone interested in a career in psychology, such as counseling, will need psychology electives. Those interested in Christian ministries need to tailor their degree for future careers or further study.”

Biology/pre-medicine is the single most popular major at WBU, due to the large number of students who are preparing for health related fields. Paterson noted that the new major is distinct from the biology degree in a number of ways, but she said it could still be a great course of study for those interested in a career in medicine.

“Many students are highly interested in health professions and may want to focus differently, including other relevant areas such as psychology. For example, a medical professional needs to know how to work with all sorts of patients. Some may want to know about running a business or about healthcare administration, which are not requirements for a biology degree, even though all degrees offer electives,” she said.

Paterson added that such a health studies program is a natural fit for a Christian university like WBU. “We attract students who want to serve and to make their world a better place,” she noted.

“We hope that students graduating with this degree will be well-prepared with expertise that helps them help people in multiple ways, with knowledge about how healthcare works, about unique needs of the elderly, about psychological needs at different stages of development, and with a solid foundation in Christian ministries and teachings from which they can help others face the most difficult times in their lives with hope and support.”

Dr. Stan Norman, president of Williams, said he is enthused about the health studies: gerontology program because it embraces a growing career field, and because it is an ideal extension of WBU’s mission.

“We want WBU graduates to be equipped to serve and to make a difference where they are needed most,” Norman said. “With an aging population, the need for professionals in the field of gerontology is going to be great. We believe this new program will help educate a new generation with academic excellence and Christ-like compassion to meet that need.”

The new program will be available at WBU starting this fall.

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

Williams Baptist University English Students Present Research at Conference

Three Williams Baptist University students represented WBU at the international conference of Sigma Tau Delta, English honor society. The conference was held at St. Louis in March.  Bethany Jaques, Melanie McKuin and Warner West were invited individually to present research completed for their courses at Williams.

Three college students stand in front of a wall.

West (left in photo), a senior from Walnut Ridge, Ark., presented a paper titled, “Vampirism as a Metaphor for Sin in Stevenson’s ‘Ollala.’” Based on his research of gothic literary vampires, West argued that the condition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s characters in this short story should be viewed as a metaphor for the total depravity caused by sin.

Following graduation in May, West will attend graduate school at the University of Oklahoma on a full assistantship, to pursue both a master’s degree in English and a master’s in Library Science.

Jaques (center), a senior from Jacksonville, Ark., read her paper, “Beyond Duality in ‘Markheim.’” Her paper examined the work of Robert Louis Stevenson through a Calvinist lens. Her argument centered on examining the main character, who changes from an unrepentant sinner to follow the irresistible grace offered by a Christ-figure.

Once she completes her studies at WBU, Jaques plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in academia.

McKuin (right), a junior from Dexter, Mo., presented “Battling Grief: Sethe Edition,” which analyzes Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved. McKuin’s argument illustrated how the character of Sethe moves through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief to heal from the death of one of her children.

McKuin plans to attend law school to study family and juvenile law after she graduates from WBU.

All three students are English majors and members of the WBU chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. Currently, McKuin is the chapter’s president, and Jaques serves as its vice president. While attending the conference, McKuin represented the chapter at the annual business meeting, and Jaques moderated a panel of her peers presenting their work.

The Department of English at Williams offers majors in English and secondary English education.

WBU is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.

Williams Baptist’s Watson Honored for Doctoral Work

Dr. Andrew Watson, director of financial aid at Williams Baptist University, has been honored for his work as a doctoral student.  Watson was named this year’s Outstanding Doctoral Student in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Arkansas State University.

Photograph of man smiling.
Dr. Andrew Watson

The award was presented for a combination of Watson’s doctoral coursework and dissertation. He completed his Ed.D. at ASU in December of 2018. His dissertation was entitled “Perceptions of College Faculty Toward Student-Athletes in Small, Athletic-Enrollment Driven Liberal Arts Institutions Located in Rural Settings.”

Watson is a Walnut Ridge native and graduate of WBU.  He and his wife, Heather, live in Paragould with their two young sons.

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

Williams Baptist University Education Students Teach Children to Save

Integrity First Bank of Pocahontas joined Williams Baptist University education students on April 16th to present the 22nd annual Teach Children to Save Day.  The event was held at Alma Spikes Elementary School in Pocahontas.

A group of people pose in front of Alma Spikes Elementary School.
Participants in Teach Children to Save Day

Teach Children to Save Day is a nationwide program of the American Bankers Association, which aims to teach students about the value of saving their money.

Since 1997, Integrity First Bank has partnered with WBU’s Williams Teacher Education Program to bring Teach Children to Save Day to over 3,300 students.  This year, the Williams students presented the lesson on saving to 160 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.

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.