Ouachita faculty members receive grants to pursue strategic teaching and learning

Seeking to encourage and support creative educational efforts throughout the university community, Ouachita Baptist University has awarded five strategic initiative and program enhancement grants to several faculty members.

Specific grants include two strategic initiative grants awarded to Dr. Lori Hensley for 3D instructional technology and to Rebecca Jones and Dr. Doug Sonheim for students to attend the Sundance Film Festival and examine the interaction of faith, film and culture. Program enhancement grants were awarded to Dr. Terry DeWitt and Dr. Mike Reynolds for experiential learning and undergraduate research via concussion testing; Dr. Craig Hamilton, Dr. Scott Holsclaw and Dr. Gary Gerber for music technology for music education students; and Dr. Rob Hewell for a seminar series for majors in Ouachita’s Worship Studies Program.

“The committee’s task was challenging,” said Dr. Byron Eubanks, chair of the Planning Committee that awarded the grants. “This year $125,000 was available, and requests totaled $594,775.”

He said the 17 submitted grant proposals “reflect significant creative thinking and lots of hard work. There was simply no way to fund all these good ideas.

“A strategic plan is an effort to chart part of our future, to think about how we can better achieve Ouachita’s mission,” Eubanks said. “Setting aside money to fund these proposals is a way of saying we are serious about making that future happen. These proposals represent the creative efforts of our faculty and staff to keep us moving forward.”

Among the specific proposals that were awarded the initial grants:

Dr. Lori Hensley, assistant professor of biology and holder of the J.D. Patterson Chair of Biology, said her grant will be used to purchase a 3D projection system and BodyViz software.

“BodyViz takes MRI and CAT scan images from actual patient data and turns them into 3D images that will be projected on a silver screen to students who will wear special 3D glasses,” Hensley explained. “The system provides a high-impact way to engage students in concepts that are difficult to convey from two-dimensional images in a textbook. For example, I will be able to show students how a brain tumor can wrap around blood vessels or nerves or push on important areas of the brain with real patient data that is fully rotatable and in three dimensions.

“I was really excited to receive this grant,” she added. “I have never viewed anatomy in this way, so it will be a great experience for me to be able to learn right along with my students as we discover how to best integrate this technologyinto our class.”

Rebecca Jones, assistant professor of communications, and Dr. Doug Sonheim, chair of the department of English and modern foreign languages and Clarence and Bennie Sue Anthony Professor of Bible and Humanities, noted that their project involves creating a new class that invites students to consider the interaction of faith, film and culture.

“The students will attend the Sundance Film Festival and will take part in the Windrider Forum,” Jones said. “Sundance is one of the most influential and prestigious independent film festivals in the world. It brings together filmmakers, critics, production companies and the public for a week of viewing cutting-edge film narratives and documentaries. The Windrider Forum is a gathering of several hundred undergraduate through graduate and seminary students and scholars who have an interest in how film impacts society and how Christian faith and film intersect and interact.

“We are delighted that Ouachita will get to join in this conversation and will get to better understand and respond to the film narratives that will help to shape and influence our culture. After attending Sundance and Windrider in Park City, Utah, the students will return to Arkadelphia and will meet throughout the rest of the semester to consider the experience and to go deeper into film analysis.

“This course and experience will invite our students to try to understand what film narratives tell us about people—their joys and struggles, burdens andblessings,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to share in this adventure with our students.”

Dr. Terry DeWitt, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies, and Dr. Mike Reynolds, professor and chair of the department of kinesiology and leisure studies, emphasized the department’s commitment to experiential learning opportunities for students.

“With the enhancement grant, we will now be able to expand experiential education learning opportunities geared toward students majoring in kinesiology and leisure studies who are seeking an emphasis in either fitness or pre-professional studies,” Reynolds said.

He noted that grant funds will be used to purchase a Biodex BioSway which “will allow students to participate in research in three areas: to engage in the gathering of a baseline data on participants using testing protocols, to allow for training modes for improving balance and proprioception, and to document improvements in balance, proprioception and mild-traumatic brain injury/concussion.”

Dr. Craig Hamilton, Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music; Dr. Scott Holsclaw, dean of the School of Humanities; and Dr. Gary Gerber, professor of music and chair of the Division of Music, were awarded a grant to purchase music technology equipment and software.

“This proposal will enhance the new curriculum that will be put into place next fall in the music education courses,” Gerber said. “The grant will provide for a new Smartboard and projector to be installed in one of the music classrooms.

“We are excited to be able to provide a ‘real-life’ classroom environment for our music education students,” he added. “These students will be able to train on equipment and software that is being used in public schools. This additional technology will better prepare our music education students for their careers in public music education.”

Dr. Rob Hewell, associate professor of music and director of OBU’s Worship Studies Program, proposed a three-year seminar series for students in the interdisciplinary program pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Worship Arts in the School of Fine Arts as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Worship Ministry or Church Media/Production Arts in the School of Christian Studies.

“The first year of the cycle will bring a noted theologian-artist-scholar to the campus for classroom, chapel and evening seminar presentations,” Hewell said. “The second year will bring a church staff noted for its collaborative efforts in worship and the arts for presentations in similar venues. The third year of the cycle will involve students attending a nationally recognized worship and the arts leadership event.

“The first event will be held during the spring 2013 semester,” he added. “Dr. Marva J. Dawn, a noted theologian, professor and scholar, will be on campus during the second week in March. She will speak in classes on Monday and in chapel that week. She also will join Dr. Ron Man, worship minister and missionary in residence atFirst Evangelical Free Church in Memphis, and Dr. Marvin Pate, Elma Cobb Professor of Christian Theology, for a Monday evening panel discussion on ‘The Trinity, the Church’s Worship and God’s Mission.’”

Reflecting on the impact of the inaugural grant awards, Eubanks said, “We hope to continue the momentum these new awards have begun. Our whole campus benefits when wethink strategically and innovatively about how we accomplish our mission.”

For more information, contact Dr. Byron Eubanks, professor of philosophy, at eubanks@obu.edu.