Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) is a private, liberal arts, undergraduate institution located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, which is about 65 miles southwest of Little Rock. The university's name is taken from the Ouachita (pronounced Wash'-uh-taw) River, which forms the eastern campus boundary. It is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The student body is approximately 45% male and 55% female.
Ouachita Baptist University was founded as Ouachita Baptist College on September 6, 1886 and has operated continually since that date. It was originally located on the campus of Ouachita Baptist High School. Its present location is on the former campus of the Arkansas School for the Blind, which relocated to Little Rock.
The first president was Professor J. W. Conger who was elected to the post on June 22, 1886. The OBU Board of Trustees unanimously selected Dr. Rex Horne, former pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, as the fifteenth president of Ouachita Baptist University on April 6, 2006. Those who have served as president include: J.W. Conger (1886–1907), Henry Simms Hartzog (1907–1911), R.G. Bowers (1911–1913), Samuel Young Jameson (1913–1916), Charles Ernest Dicken (1916–1926), Arthur B. Hill (1926–1929), Charles D. Johnson (1929–1933), James R. Grant (1933–1949), Seaford Eubanks (1949–1951), Harold A. Haswell (1952–1953), Ralph Arloe Phelps Jr. (1953–1969), Daniel R. Grant (1970–1988), Ben M. Elrod (1988–1998), and Andrew Westmoreland (1998–2006).
In 1965 the College changed its name to Ouachita Baptist University. Recent years have seen a steady expansion of the campus, including the Harvey Jones Science Center (1997), the Frank D. Hickingbotham School of Business in Hickingbotham Hall (2006) and the Student Village residence halls (2009).
Ouachita Baptist University focuses on undergraduate programs in the liberal arts. It offers 64 degree programs in eight academic schools: School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Frank D. Hickingbotham School of Business, Chesley and Elizabeth Pruett School of Christian Studies, Michael D. Huckabee School of Education, School of Fine Arts, Sutton School of Social Sciences, J. D. Patterson School of Natural Sciences, and School of Humanities. Most students earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), but the school also offers Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Music (B.M.) programs. Study abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Studies. Two classes in religion are part of the core curriculum and graduation requires seven credits of chapel (earned by regular chapel attendance during a semester).
OBU operates on the traditional credit hour system. The student to faculty ratio is approximately 13:1. The university has been highly ranked in a number of college surveys, including being ranked the No. 1 Regional College in the South by U.S. News & World Report for four consecutive years since 2008. There is a joint Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program with neighboring Henderson State University. The OBU ROTC program dates back to 1886 and has at times been called the "West Point of the Ozarks" for the large number of U.S. Army officers it produced.
The University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), National Association for Schools of Music, the Commission on the Accreditation of Athletic Training Education Programs (CAATE), and the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association.
Ouachita Baptist has an 85–acre campus. There are eight academic buildings: Jones Performing Arts Center (which includes the Verser Theatre), Moses–Provine Hall, Mabee Fine Arts Building, McClellan Hall, Lile Hall, Hickingbotham Hall, the Harvey Jones Science Center and the Berry Bible Building. The campus also houses a number of administrative buildings, two school libraries, conference centers, residence halls and a dining facility. OBU operates five off-campus apartment complexes for upperclassmen.
Ouachita is primarily a residential campus, with 94% percent of the students living in one of eight on-campus dorms and five off-campus apartment complexes. Only students who have family in the area or who are over the age of 22 are allowed to live elsewhere. Campus policies restrict students visiting the rooms of those of the opposite sex to special visiting hours, and visits are under strict guidelines.
Ouachita does not allow nationally-affiliated social fraternities or sororities, but there are local fraternities and sororities called "social clubs." Approximately 20% of the student body are members of such clubs. Annually, during Homecoming Weekend, the social clubs participate in a musical show called Tiger Tunes, produced by the Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF). All proceeds raised from Tiger Tunes and other events throughout the year are then given by OSF for student scholarships. Current men's social clubs are: Rho Sigma, Sigma Alpha Sigma, Beta Beta, Kappa Chi, and Eta Alpha Omega. Current women's social clubs are E.E.E., Chi Delta, Tri Chi, and Chi Rho Phi.
In the spring, Tiger Traks invades the campus for two days of competition between students. Called "Arkansas' Most Exciting College Weekend," Tiger Traks invites all students and faculty to participate and raise funds for OSF scholarships. There are also more than 40 professional, departmental and honorary organizations for students. In addition, the Campus Activities Board offers concerts and movies, and the Office of Campus Ministries offers other activities for students.
The Signal is Ouachita's award-winning student newspaper.
OBU fields intercollegiate men's teams in football, baseball, basketball, golf, swimming, tennis, soccer and wrestling. Women's sports include basketball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, cross country, soccer, softball and golf. The school mascot is the Tiger, and colors are blue violet and old gold. As of Fall 2011, Ouachita began competition in the Great American Conference, after previously being a member of the Gulf South Conference. The Great American Conference consists of 6 schools from Arkansas and 3 schools from Oklahoma. The football Tigers were the conference champions of the inaugural 2011-2012 season.
In 2010, Ouachita Baptist was the first university in Arkansas to offer an NCAA wrestling program. Their first head coach was Kevin Ward, former Oklahoma State All-American and Big 12 champion.
Ouachita has an intense crosstown rivalry with Henderson State University, a public university located across a small ravine from the Ouachita campus. The annual "Battle of the Ravine" between the two schools is the fifth oldest football rivalry in college sports. The teams first met in 1895.
Successful intercollegiate teams include the 2009 swimming teams, with the men's team finishing fifth in Division II and the women's team sixth. The 2008 Ouachita baseball team finished second in Division II.
Several intramural sports are also available for both men and women. These include football, basketball, softball, racquetball, volleyball, dodgeball, indoor hockey and tennis.
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Ouachita Baptist University
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