Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OBU BlogAbout: Professors and Staff

 

In the continuing celebration of 125 years of Ouachita Baptist University, we've got a month-long batch of blog posts going up here, there, and everywhere. It's part of the OBU Blogabout, and you can find all the links at this link.

This week, the goal is to post about our favorite professor, instructor, or staff member. I don't doubt that there will be a few posts about how hard it is to choose or how wonderful everyone was at Ouachita. There will be posts about great rescues or deep inspirations or lifelong friendships.

What will this post be?

I consider an extended gripy-blog about faculty members I didn't like or a statement or two about how I didn't really know staff members and such because I stayed holed up in my room most of the time. But you're not here to read about bad things, are you? After all, if you can't say something nice, you should say nothing at all, right? Right.

So, of whom shall I speak? I was a Religion major, back before the "School of Christian Studies" became a "school." That means there's Drs. Steeger, Hays, Duvall, Carter, Vang, Stagg, and Eubanks to discuss. They were all good, and well worth the time to know and write about. There are still days I doubt my need for seminary for having gone through the gauntlet that was the Department of Religion and Philosophy.

I minored in Speech, and Dr. Phillips remains one of my favorite people on campus, while I still feel a gap from the passing of Dr. Buckelew. The Speech Department was the best experience of my time at OBU, without a doubt. Everyone ought to take speech and argumentation.

But my favorite faculty member?

Dr. Andy Westmoreland, President of Ouachita Baptist University in 1999.

Why?

He signed my diploma. Well, technically he did. I'm sure it was some form of auto-pen, but if it's good enough for the President of the United States to sign a law or two, it's good enough for me.

Dr. Westmoreland signing my diploma was an act of grace. I graduate from OBU after picking up a few extra hours to balance my GPA. I was immature beyond my years, and really deserved to be sent back for another round. All the knowledge and wisdom from the general education work, the major, the minor, and I was still a self-absorbed problem.

Yet that piece of paper, now framed and on my wall, put the reputation of a good place in my hands. When I finally got it, I was headed out of state to a city with no OBU Alumni. (As opposed to now, where I see about 10 alumni on a regular basis.) The only impression of Ouachita that Dalton, Georgia, was going to have was, well, Ann Hibbard and me. Which meant a good show for the women's dorms and a bad rap for the men.

Looking back at the wonderful people and the great experience that is Ouachita, my favorite person is the one who pushed me out carrying the Ouachita name. I had no choice but to grow up a little more and move forward towards who God was calling me to be.

Of course, Dr. Westmoreland up and left for Samford. Alabama's gain was truly Arkansas's loss. No beef with Dr. Horne, but he wasn't there when I was. I started with Dr. Elrod (Grass or mud?) but finished with Dr. Westmoreland.

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