OBU concluded yet another successful year in May. The University celebrated numerous milestones and achievements by faculty, students and staff, experienced positive changes and improvements in facilities, and made continued progress in many University initiatives.

On Friday, May 17, the University saw 293 graduates receive their diplomas during OBU’s 105th Spring Commencement. The University saw 108 students graduate during Winter Commencement in December 2018, including 72 undergraduates and 36 graduate students. This combined for a 2018-19 graduating class of 401 students.

In early May, OBU dedicated a new collaborative learning space inside Bailey Business Center, provided through the generous donations of the Jeff and Kathy Madison family. It was created to be a place where students can refresh themselves between classes while collaborating with other students and faculty. It includes four sets of tables and chairs, sofas, a kitchenette, a wall-mounted TV, a large dry erase whiteboard, a soda machine, and more.

In April, the University enrolled nearly 300 new students during its annual Priority Enrollment Day. The University also recognized 38 employees for a combined total of 440 years of service during its annual service awards luncheon. The OBU Shawnee Community Orchestra celebrated the service of Dr. Jim Hansford, professor of music emeritus, who retired after serving as the group’s founding conductor for 19 years.

In March, OBU hosted the seventh annual Green and Gold Gala in Oklahoma City. The event featured a keynote address from NASCAR driver, TV personality and humanitarian Kyle Petty. The Green and Gold Gala raises money for student scholarships at OBU.

In January, OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock announced his retirement, after serving on Bison Hill for more than 10 years. Whitlock finished his term through May 31 as University chancellor. Dr. Pat Taylor was named interim president by the OBU Board of Trustees in February. Taylor retired as president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, in 2018, and returned to Bison Hill after serving as OBU’s senior vice president and provost from 1986 to 1996.

During the past year, 341 students and mentors were commissioned for global service through Global Outreach trips and other service opportunities. They traveled to locations in seven states and 22 other countries on 27 Global Outreach and seven academic trips.

The end of this academic year marks the completion of OBU’s second year as full members of NCAA Division II. The Bison teams have met the challenge, both on the field and in the classroom, rising to the occasion of NCAA competition and standards. While the level of competition has increased, so too has the prowess and ability of Bison athletes.

The Graduate College at OBU announced it will begin offering an on-campus MBA program in Shawnee beginning in fall 2019, complementing the current online MBA program. Classes will be held in the evenings. This in-person experience allows students to complete courses in the same timeframe as online courses, with each class lasting eight weeks. With this new program, students are allowed to complete a degree that is completely in-person or a blend of online and on-campus. Since the courses are designed for working professionals, students are allowed to take classes at their own pace but are able to complete the program in as little as 16 months.

Last fall, the University dedicated the Dick and Sue Rader Office of Student Life and Women of Vision Center for Spiritual Life. The newly renovated section of the Geiger Center officially opened at the beginning of the fall semester. The decision to remodel the Geiger Center was made in an effort to bring student life and spiritual life together to better serve the student body in a centralized location. This included moving and remodeling OBU’s mail room, as well as renovating and constructing offices, meeting spaces, and conference rooms for campus organizations.

For the 27th consecutive year, U.S. News and World Report ranked OBU as one of the top colleges in the nation in numerous categories, including, “The Overall Best Regional Colleges of the West,” “The Foreign Student Factor,” “2019 Best Colleges for Veterans,” “A Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching,” “Student Debt Load at Graduation,” and “Best Value Schools in the Western U.S.”

In the Best Regional Colleges of the West, OBU ranked seventh out of the 15-state region, maintaining its spot as the highest-ranking Oklahoma institution on the list for 25 consecutive years. OBU ranked ninth in the Western region on the list, “The Foreign Student Factor,” based on percentage of international students in its student body. OBU also ranked fifth in the Western region on the “2019 Best Colleges for Veterans.”

The University was ranked as the only Oklahoma school and one of only two schools in the Western region recognized to have “A Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching.” It ranked 14th best in the 15-state Western region for having the lowest debt load at graduation, and the University ranked ninth for the “Best Value Schools” in the West.

OBU received another high honor from a nationally respected entity, as it was recognized by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education as a “Top School for Student Engagement.” OBU ranked second in the nation for student engagement out of 968 institutions.

OBU likewise ranked second on a list of top colleges and universities in the state of Oklahoma, as rated by College Consensus, trailing only the University of Tulsa while ranking higher than both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. It then ranked 23rd on a list of Best Christian Colleges and Universities in the nation, also on the College Consensus lists.

For more information about OBU, visit www.okbu.edu.