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OPPORTUNITY PROFILE

Ouachita Baptist University is searching for its next Vice President for Student Development (VPSD). In the midst of a pandemic and disruption in higher education, Ouachita is experiencing significant institutional momentum. This is an exciting opportunity for the person prepared and called to give leadership in understanding, serving, and developing students.

Review of candidates will begin November 1, and the position will formally begin June 1, 2022. This Opportunity Profile includes an overview of the university as well as the Office of Student Development, essential functions of the role, important characteristics of the person, and instructions for applying.

University Overview

Ouachita is a private liberal arts university in its 136th year as a Christ-centered learning community. The university is strongly connected to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Ouachita is located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a city of 10,000 one hour southwest of Little Rock and four hours northeast of Dallas, Texas. Ouachita’s statements of vision, mission and values, anchor its distinct approach to Christian higher education. The university’s five-year strategic plan guides its focus.

Ouachita is committed to providing a vibrant campus life experience for its students. The university is primarily a residential undergraduate institution with 97% of students living in campus housing. About 65% of students are from Arkansas, 25% from Texas and the balance from another 20 states and 20 countries. Academically, the university is organized in seven Schools: Business, Christian Studies, Education, Fine Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.

Our highly residential nature is part of a commitment to a vibrant campus life that contributes to a holistic education. It includes required Chapel and a range of opportunities for spiritual development. There are over 50 student organizations and clubs for leadership, service and affiliation. On average, students, faculty, and staff volunteer 50,000 hours locally, nationally and globally. The university fields 16 athletic teams involving 25% of the student body at the NCAA Division II level.

The university employs faculty and staff who have an active Christian faith; identify with its vision, mission and values; are devoted to helping students experience academic progress, personal development and spiritual growth; and are committed to excellence and collegiality in their work. Ouachita is known for a highly-personalized approach to students by all of its employees; the student- faculty ratio is 13:1.

During the past five years, Ouachita has experienced considerable progress as enrollment has increased by 9% while university enrollment statewide has decreased by 12%. Fall 2021 enrollment is the highest in 55 years, including the largest freshman class in its history. The new student cohort is both distinctive and diverse: 38% earned a high school GPA of 4.0+, 25% are the first to attend college in their family and 20% are students of color.

As evidence of student satisfaction and success, in fall 2021 Ouachita reported its highest ever retention rate, as well as its highest ever four-year graduation rate of 63.5%. By comparison, the average four-year graduation rate among all colleges and universities in Arkansas was 32%. Ouachita is ranked the No. 2 “Regional College in the South” by U.S. News & World Report.

Ouachita’s recent foray into serving non-traditional degree seeking students at the undergraduate and graduate levels reflects a desire to better serve our constituency and society; enrollment growth at these levels reflects the development of new and innovative programs.

Also, during the past five years, the university has received a record number of philanthropic gifts, achieved a record high for its endowment and is stronger financially than any time in the past quarter century. During the 2020-21 academic year, in the midst of a pandemic, Ouachita was one of the few universities in the country to have a fully in-person experience. It reflected the collective efforts of students, faculty, and staff to care for one another and have a meaningful campus life.

Focused on fostering a love of God and learning in its students, to excellence and innovation by its employees, and a campus community known for its friendliness and service, Ouachita is rising and distinguishing itself in a disruptive time for American higher education.

Office of Student Development – Overview

The Office of Student Development is led by the Vice President for Student Development who reports to the President. The VPSD serves on the Administrative Council, the university’s senior leadership team.

The Office of Student Development is vital in strengthening the university’s vision, mission and values as well as advancing the strategic plan. In summary, it has primary responsibility for facilitating student life experiences outside the classroom. In doing so, it also has an important role in supporting the academic experience and in collaborating with other areas across campus who also contribute to campus life.

Student Development’s primary goals are articulated in the following way:

  • Promote the growth of the whole person intellectually, physically, socially and spiritually;
  • Assist students in connecting with the university community;
  • Enhance the overall quality of the student life experience;
  • Foster a campus characterized by respect for the institution, for others and for oneself;
  • Promote Christian ideals and character through emphasizing integrity, personal responsibility and accountability;
  • Offer essential services in support of the primary academic function of the university;
  • Aid students in need or crisis;
  • Provide a safe campus environment; and,
  • Support the efforts of students to earn a degree.

The major areas within Student Development are:

  • Campus Housing and Residence Life;
  • Student Life;
  • Counseling and Disability Services;
  • Student Conduct;
  • Health Services;
  • Campus Safety and Emergency Management;
  • Recreational Life; and,
  • Summer Camps and Conferences.

The Vice President and other Student Development staff are members of a university-wide Retention Committee, chaired by the President, that has devoted additional attention to a range of initiatives that are reflected in university progress in retention and graduation rates.

The current Vice President, Dr. Wesley Kluck, has served for nine years in the role and 16 years at the university. He also is the University Physician and is transitioning to give his full-time efforts as Physician that includes service to all students as well as medical oversight for student-athletes.

This is an exciting and promising time to become Ouachita’s next chief student development officer. In addition to the university’s momentum, Student Development is completing a comprehensive seven- year program review; the university is preparing for a comprehensive visit by the Higher Learning Commission in March 2022 which provides additional insight; and Ouachita is beginning to formulate its next strategic plan to take effect in January 2023.

Two essential questions for our planning efforts are: “What should not change?” and “What should change?” The next Vice President for Student Development, building on a rich heritage in this office while working in a changing higher education environment, will help shape the response to these two questions. There are some features of Student Development at Ouachita that are enduring and shouldn’t change. Yet, there are always features that must change for the sake of our mission and the students we are called to serve.

Essential Functions

  1. Exemplify a love and passion for understanding, serving and developing students.
  2. Work effectively with the President.
  3. Select, lead, support and evaluate Student Development colleagues.
  4. Collaborate with leadership peers, shared governance groups, faculty and staff.
  5. Develop and implement a strategic plan that amplifies the university’s plan.
  6. Strengthen efforts for racial diversity, belonging and satisfaction among students.
  7. Oversee a fair, respectful and redemptive approach to student conduct.
  8. Partner with co-workers on student recruitment and retention.
  9. Support university and community efforts for safety and emergency management.
  10. Manage and steward the division’s budget.
  11. Listen and communicate well with university constituencies.
  12. Utilize assessment, best practices and personal learning for planning and results.
  13. Cooperate with community, church and other civic partners.
  14. Prepare reports for President, Board of Trustees and others as needed.
  15. Adhere to state, federal and other regulatory guidelines.
  16. Complete other duties as assigned.

Important Characteristics

  1. Demonstrate an active and maturing Christian faith.
  2. Affirm the university’s vision, mission and values.
  3. Be or become a member of an Arkansas Baptist State Convention church.
  4. Exemplify personal integrity and outstanding character.
  5. Reside in or relocate to the Arkadelphia community.
  6. Possess an earned doctorate in higher education or related field.
  7. Show evidence of increasing responsibility and success in student development work.
  8. Appreciation for Ouachita’s culture.

Search Process

For consideration, please provide a resume or curriculum vita. Also, provide a letter of interest, not to exceed five pages, that makes the case for your candidacy based on this Opportunity Profile and that includes a personal statement of faith. References and academic transcripts will be asked for at a later time. Review of materials will begin November 1. Please submit documents electronically to Tracey Knight, Executive Assistant to the President, at knightte@obu.edu.

 

Applications for staff positions at Ouachita Baptist University are always accepted. Once a vacancy has occurred, the department head, supervisor or director will consider all qualified applicants. Interviews will follow based on skills, qualifications and references of the prospective employee as provided on their individual application. All applications are kept on file for six months. Download the staff application and return completed applications to:

Office of Human Resources
410 Ouachita Street, OBU Box 3772
Arkadelphia, AR 71998-0001

Next Steps

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