OBU in Summary
Oklahoma Baptist University is a senior level coeducational institution with an enrollment of approximately 1,400 students. About 60 percent of OBU’s students are from Oklahoma, while the other 40 percent come from approximately 40 other states and 26 countries.
OBU is located in Shawnee, a city of 31,500 residents, which is 35 miles east of Oklahoma City and 90 miles southwest of Tulsa, near the geographical center of the state. OBU’s 200-acre campus is on the northwest edge of Shawnee just two miles south of Interstate 40.
OBU utilizes the semester calendar plan with a four-month fall term, a three-week January term, a four-month spring term, and two four-week summer terms. The University offers nine baccalaureate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Professional Accountancy, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Musical Arts, Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Fine Arts; three master’s degrees: Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. OBU’s curriculum features strong general studies requirements and more than 80 areas of concentration and majors in departments of instruction. Areas of study lead to a large number of entry-level occupations in such career areas as business, communications, education, fine arts, recreation, religious vocations, scientific and technical areas, and social sciences and services. Exciting new additions at OBU include three engineering bachelor’s degree options-mechanical, electrical and systems-and the first fully online bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies.
The Baptists of Oklahoma Territory, realizing the great need for Christian emphasis in institutions of higher learning, decided in 1889 to build a college. This institution, Oklahoma Baptist College, was located at Blackwell, Oklahoma, and was maintained until 1913.
For several years, a Baptist academy also was operated at Hastings, Oklahoma, but in 1912 it was moved to Mangum and reestablished as Southwest Baptist College, a junior college. Like Oklahoma Baptist College, this school suffered from a poor geographical location within the state, and closed in 1914.
The real founding of Oklahoma Baptist University occurred in 1906 when the State Baptist Convention, in session in Shawnee, appointed a commission to make plans for the founding of a Baptist university. In 1907, a board of trustees was elected, and in 1910 articles of incorporation were granted. The school actually opened in September 1911, in the basement of the First Baptist Church and in the Convention Hall of Shawnee.
Also in 1911, a group of individual Baptists organized an independent school at Oklahoma City under the name of Carey College, but it had to close its doors at the end of four weeks. Many of the students and a few faculty members transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University.
The City of Shawnee contributed the original 60- acre campus and the first building, Shawnee Hall, which was ready for occupancy by September 1915. Since that time, adjoining tracts of 140 acres have been added and 30 major buildings have been erected.
OBU is owned and supported by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, which consists of approximately 1,700 cooperating Southern Baptist churches. OBU is responsible through the President to the Board of Trustees, whose members are elected by that Convention.
OBU’s Mission Statement
As a Christian liberal arts university, OBU transforms lives by equipping students to
- pursue academic excellence
- integrate faith with all areas of knowledge
- engage a diverse world
- live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.
Oklahoma Baptist University is an institution founded on Christian principles and teachings whose primary purpose is to conduct educational programs in the traditional arts and sciences and in other disciplines with the intent to prepare students for effective leadership and service in the various vocations.
The mission finds expression through a strong liberal arts core curriculum which supports degree programs designed to prepare students for careers and graduate study; through activities planned to stimulate spiritual, intellectual, social, cultural, and physical development; and through an environment that reflects the application of Christian principles and teachings.
Owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and operated through a Board of Trustees elected by the Convention, the University engages in educational tasks in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Convention: to furnish the means by which the churches may carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). To achieve its purpose, the University has adopted several goals, among which are:
To be a Christian learning community where faith and knowledge contribute to the individual’s awareness: of himself and his obligations within a diverse and interrelated society; of truth and its force; of the joy of discovery and the beauty of existence; and of the legacy of the past, the challenge of the present, and the promise of the future.
To cultivate Christian community in which the Baptist principles of individual freedom and dignity as well as mutual kindness and respect and concern for others are stressed.
To encourage a climate of learning where the student may develop the lifelong habit of critical thinking in the search for truth.
To identify and communicate the knowledge, experience, and values which constitute man’s cultural heritage.
To provide opportunities for the student to engage in a serious study of the Bible and to learn the philosophy and tenets of the Judeo-Christian heritage; to instill an awareness of and an appreciation for the distinctive Baptist contribution to Christian theology and for the values inherent in the Christian faith; to encourage Christian commitment.
To foster an awareness of the needs of the human community and the responsibility of each individual in an active life of service.
To offer a broad-based liberal arts education and specialized professional training in mutually supportive roles.
To afford the opportunity to explore the relevance of all academic endeavors to the Christian life.
To make personnel, services and facilities of the institution available to meet appropriate educational, cultural, and religious needs of its several constituencies.
To serve the Baptist constituency through the development of informed, enlightened, sensitive leadership.
Administrators, faculty and staff members will conduct themselves and their professional activity in a manner which is consistent with the Mission and Purpose Statement of the University. All academic courses, student activities and University policies and procedures will be conducted in a manner that does not contradict the Mission and Purpose Statement of the University.
Campus Setting and Facilities
The University campus consists of approximately 226 acres located on the northwest edge of Shawnee. OBU’s campus is known by the school’s students and alumni as Bison Hill. The principal buildings, excluding student housing, are the following:
The Art Building, located on the southwest corner of campus, houses an art gallery, classroom, graphic design lab, weaving and stained glass workspace, and a large ceramics studio.
The Art Annex sits south of the Art Building and serves as additional studio space for the Division of Art and Design. Originally a store front with an upstairs apartment, the first floor is a light-filled room equipped with drafting tables for drawing and illustration. The second floor, reserved for painting students, is reminiscent of an urban loft with original wood floors, large windows and skylight. The Art Annex features one office, a private studio space, and a kitchenette.
Bailey Business Center, completed in 1993, is named after William S. Bailey, founder of Tulsa Royalties. The building provides office space for the faculty of the Paul Dickinson College of Business and has 16 classrooms equipped with audiovisual technology. The building also has the Tulsa Royalties Auditorium, with a seating capacity of 150, and a Hall of Fame room to honor outstanding Oklahoma business people. Two computer laboratories equipped with computer technology are located on the second floor.
Eddie Hurt Jr. Memorial Track Complex, opened just west of the old track in 2008. Bison Field, home to the OBU football program, and seating capacity for 3,500 was added to the complex in the summer of 2013 in anticipation of the return of Bison Football to the campus after 76 years.
The Jay P. Chance Track Building, named for 1956 OBU alumnus, friend, and member of the track and cross country programs Dr. Jay P. Chance, is home to the men’s and women’s track and cross country programs and houses offices, locker rooms, and an indoor practice area. The Bob and Nelda Keck Indoor Training area is named for these 1952 OBU grads. They helped the University install the Green and Gold Mondo surface that is in the training area. Bob Keck is also in the OBU Athletic Hall of Fame. The Chance Building is a tremendous asset to the national champion track program at OBU.
In February 2014, the Mathena Family of Edmond, Oklahoma provided resources for the construction of a state-of-the-art athletic facility which houses the OBU athletic training and sports medicine offices. Conveniently located near playing facilities for two of OBU’s largest athletic programs, the Mathena Center enhances OBU’s ability to prepare student athletes for the rigors of athletic competition.
The track scoring facility was added to the Hurt Memorial Track Complex in 2011. Equipped with the latest technology for track and field scoring, this facility also serves as a restroom facility for Hurt Complex events and a tornado safe room.
Ford Hall is a three-story building for students of the School of Visual and Performing Arts. The generous initial gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. Lloyd Ford of Shawnee made possible the construction of this building in 1951. The building was renovated and re-dedicated in 2018 as a result of generous gifts from many university supporters. The building is the primary practice facility for OBU’s Division of Music and has provided a space for generations of students to hone their musical talents. Through the renovation, the facility now includes space for all visual and performing arts students, with renovated practice rooms, a recording space, faculty offices, art studios, a piano lab, and an art and animation lab. The building also hosts the Bison Glee Club’s rehearsal room, a gathering place for student collaboration and a recording studio. The Howard Memorial Chapel is located on the first floor.
The Geiger Center, named for Al and Laura Belle Geiger of Tulsa, serves the entire academic community, particularly in extracurricular activities. The Geiger Center houses the campus dining rooms, including the Café on the Hill, the University Bookstore, Student Development Offices, and Spiritual Life Offices and is the location of the Starbucks We Proudly Brew coffee shop, the Bison Grill, Chick-Fil-A and a convenience store.
Jane E. and Nick K. Stavros Hall is home to the OBU College of Nursing, the oldest nursing baccalaureate program in Oklahoma. Located at the corner of MacArthur and Kickapoo immediately north of Shawnee Hall, this two-story, 31,600-square-foot nursing facility contains five classrooms including a 30-seat classroom, three 63-seat classrooms and a 109-seat lecture hall. Included on the second floor is a nursing education computer lab. The cutting-edge nursing education facility features six high-tech skills simulation labs with 24 beds creating an advanced simulation environment. Additionally, the facility has a medium skills lab, a health assessment skills lab, a home health simulation room and bathing training room. Stavros Hall provides an administrative suite, 19 faculty offices, faculty and student lounges and a severe weather safe room. The facility offers nursing students the latest in health care education and nursing technology in a safe environment. In building the facility, OBU employed energy-saving measures to ensure the building met the standards of its green initiative.
John Wesley Raley Chapel consists of more than 61,000 square feet of floor space on the main and lower floors. Named for the late Dr. John Wesley Raley, president of OBU from 1934 - 1961, the chapel extends 45 feet into the ground and 200 feet (20 stories) from ground level to lighted spire.
The main floor was completed in 1961 and houses the Andrew Potter Auditorium, named for the man who served as executive secretary-treasurer for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma from 1933-51. With a seating capacity of more than 2,000, Potter Auditorium is used for chapel services, concerts, recitals and other programs. The main floor also holds administrative offices; the Heritage Room, given in honor of Dr. Raley by family and friends; the Helen Thames Raley Drawing Room, a tribute to Dr. Raley’s wife; and the James D. Woodward Choral Rehearsal Room.
The lower floor, completed in 1971, houses the Mabee Fine Arts Center with classrooms, studios, faculty offices, practice rooms, and band and choral rehearsal rooms for the Warren M. Angell School of Visual and Performing Arts. Yarborough Auditorium is in the center of the lower level, seats 389 people, is used for classes and meetings, and serves as a recital auditorium for the Division of Music.
Kenneth V. Eyer Physical Plant Building is located at 2001 Airport Drive, about three blocks south of the campus. Eyer was Plant Administrator for 42 years. The offices and storerooms for buildings and grounds maintenance are located in this building.
The Sara Lou and Bob Cargill Alumni and Advancement Center was constructed in 1949 as the home to the OBU president. In 2013-14, the building underwent a complete renovation and expansion. The project, funded through a gift from OBU Alumni Dr. Robert and Sara Lou Cargill, converted the private residence into 13 offices for the advancement and alumni team and the marketing and communications team, a conference room, and event-hosting areas, while maintaining the architectural integrity of the original home. The Cargill Center serves the campus as the official welcome center for more than 24,000 OBU Alumni.
Mabee Learning Center was completed in 1976 and is composed of a renovation of and an addition to the University’s former library building, W.L. Brittain Hall, and the faculty office building, Owens Hall. Striving to focus on ubiquitous information discovery and access, regardless of format and regardless of location, the Mabee Learning Center serves the OBU community by fostering community, collaboration, and the ethical use and stewardship of information resources.
Housed in the Learning Center are the OBU Library, OBU Historical Collection, the Gaskin Archive for Baptist history in Oklahoma, the Milburn Student Success Center, and Technology Services.
Montgomery Hall, erected in 1916, was reconstructed in 1989 in a new location on campus. In the spring of 1990, the new Montgomery Hall opened as the campus ministry center and for more than 20 years provided classroom space on the second floor. Currently, the facility houses the Herschel H. Hobbs School of Theology and Ministry and the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach.
Kemp Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, opened in 2018 and is located on Kickapoo just south of the art annex. The clinic provides high quality therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families of the OBU community. Clinic services are provided by graduate level therapists in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. OBU MFT faculty and the clinic director provide ongoing clinical supervision to ensure high quality services for all clients. Therapists work with their clients to encourage a strengths-based approach to healthy living that incorporates mind, body, faith, and community.
Noble Complex, completed in the summer of 1982, had major renovation work completed during the 2007-08 academic year. The center houses a 2,500- seat arena, a special event facility overlooking the arena, athletic training facilities, a varsity weight room, varsity basketball locker rooms, an athletic heritage center, and classrooms and offices for the University’s Exercise Science, Sports and Recreation programs. The complex is named for the Noble Foundation of Ardmore.
Owens Hall is a three-story office building housing faculty members in the Division of Behavioral and Social Science and the Division of Language and Literature. It also houses the offices of Business Services and Human Resources. Originally a men’s dormitory with an attached gymnasium, the building was constructed in 1919. It was renamed in 1947 in honor of James N. “Uncle Jimmy” Owens, long-time professor of modern languages. In 1958 the facility was converted into an office building. When the Mabee Learning Center was constructed in 1976, the exterior of Owens Hall was remodeled, making it the east wing of the complex.
The Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC), opened in the fall of 2007. The two-story, 60,000-square-foot facility includes three basketball/volleyball courts, aerobic facilities, cardio-vascular workout equipment, a climbing wall, racquetball courts, a 1/10-mile indoor walking/jogging track, and offices and meeting space.
Sarkeys Center, completed in 1986, contains a television studio, a black-box theatre, Bison and Yahnseh editorial labs, and offices for the Division of Communication Arts. The Sarkeys Center underwent an impressive $1.3 million renovation in 2022 providing major updates to classrooms, a student center, faculty offices, audio/video editing suites, a conference room, and the lobby and entry space. Improvements also included modern furnishing and décor, flooring, ceilings, lighting, modernized technology and computer labs, and a new roof.
Shawnee Hall, erected in 1914, remains the center of the campus. The iconic building has served as the University’s primary classroom building and is currently undergoing major interior renovation. Following renovations, it will house the Henry F. McCabe Family School of Education, OBU’s Marriage and Family Therapy degree program and Craig Dorland Theatre along with multiple classrooms for a variety of programs.
Stubblefield Chapel, named in honor of Cortez Stubblefield, pioneer pastor and denominational statesman, is an assembly hall. The building, erected in 1894, served as the original home of the First Baptist Church, Shawnee, and the birthplace of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. It was moved to its present location facing Kerr Dormitory and was renovated in 1963.
Thurmond Hall, completed in 1954, was made possible by a major bequest of Mrs. Olive Thurmond of Ardmore. The new Engineering program is housed on the first floor. The administrative offices of the President, Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Academic Center are located on the second floor and Student Financial Services is on the third floor.
W.P. Wood Science Building, completed in 1985, houses the administrative offices for the School of Science and Mathematics, science classrooms and laboratories, the W.P. Wood Planetarium, and the Bailey Science Museum, which includes the Webster Collection. The construction was made possible through a substantial initial gift from the W.P. Wood Foundation of Shawnee.