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Ouachita Stories


OBU trustees vote to honor Alex Nisbet and John Ward

March 13, 2009 - Trennis Henderson

Ouachita Baptist University’s board of trustees voted during their March 12 board meeting to honor longtime university professor Alex R. Nisbet and fellow trustee John C. Ward.

Dr. Nisbet, who will retire after 46 years as a faculty member at Ouachita, has been named Professor Emeritus of Chemistry. Nisbet, who joined the faculty in 1963 as an associate professor of chemistry, is the second-longest serving faculty member in Ouachita’s history. A graduate of San Angelo College and the University of Texas at Austin, he was promoted to professor of chemistry in 1974.

The recommendation proposing his status as professor emeritus affirms that Dr. Nisbet “has seen generations of students come through his classroom and laboratory and has worked tirelessly to prepare them for future careers in such fields as chemistry, nursing, medicine and teaching.”

Trustees also voted to present a Distinguished Alumnus Award to Judge John Ward during spring commencement services May 9.

Ward, who graduated from Ouachita in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech, was active in Baptist Student Union, choir, Sigma Tau Delta, Alpha Phi Omega, drama productions and the Beta Beta social club. He also was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law, he entered private law practice and served 24 years as a trial lawyer. He was appointed Chancery Judge in 1988 and became Circuit Judge the following year. He also served as a special justice for the Arkansas Supreme Court, chaired the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Civil Practice and served three terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

A current member of Ouachita’s board of trustees, Judge Ward previously served four terms as a trustee from 1991 through 2005. He is a member of Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock and has served as a state and national officer for Gideons International.

In a series of personnel-related actions, trustees:

-- Approved Mary Handiboe, assistant professor of theater arts, and Doug Nykolaishen, assistant professor of Biblical studies, for tenure.

-- Approved promotions for Kevin Brennan to professor of political science, Josh Bynum to assistant professor of music, Mary Handiboe to associate professor of theater arts, Lori Hensley to associate professor of biology, Marshall Horton to professor of economics and finance, and Martin Perry to professor of chemistry and holder of the Nell I. Mondy Chair of Chemistry.

-- Granted sabbatical leaves to Detri Brech, professor of dietetics; Sim Flora, professor of music; Steven Hennagin, professor of mathematics and computer science; Scott Jackson, assistant professor of Christian ministries; Doug Nykolaishen, assistant professor of Biblical studies; and Doug Sonheim, Clarence and Bennie Sue Anthony Professor of Bible and Humanities.

In other action, trustees addressed a variety of budget-related issues, including adopting a balanced budget proposal for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The budget includes more than $1 million in expenditure reductions. Those cuts primarily include recently announced personnel adjustments as well as reduced retirement contribution rates for all employees.

 “When you look at the severe cutbacks on investments and endowments in institutions and businesses throughout the nation, Ouachita is not in a bubble,” acknowledged President Horne. “We have been impacted and it is something that has to be addressed in a straightforward way.

“Our trustees and constituents would expect us to do what is needed to keep the institution strong while not sacrificing in any way the experiences of our students related to a superior education and student life,” he added.

“While such steps are painful and are not taken lightly, I remain completely optimistic that Ouachita will thrive in the years ahead,” Horne said. “Our commitment is to remain an academically strong, Christ-centered institution that makes a difference in the lives of our students.”


by Trennis Henderson