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Ouachita Baptist University
Former name
Ouachita Baptist College (1886–1965)
MottoVision. Integrity. Service.
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Academic affiliations
Endowment$65.4 million[1]
PresidentBen Sells
Academic staff
102 Full-time and 52 Part-time[2]
Location, ,
United States

34°7′30″N 93°3′10″W / 34.12500°N 93.05278°W / 34.12500; -93.05278
CampusRural, 160 acres (65 ha)
ColorsPurple and Gold

Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) is a private Baptist university in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The university's name is taken from the Ouachita (pronounced WAH-shi-tah) River, which forms the eastern campus boundary. It is affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, a state convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.


Ouachita Baptist University was founded as Ouachita Baptist College on September 6, 1886,[3] and has operated continually since that date. It was originally located on the campus of Ouachita Baptist High School. Its current location is on the former campus of the Arkansas School for the Blind, which relocated to Little Rock.

The first president was J. W. Conger, who was elected to the post on June 22, 1886. The OBU Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Ben Sells, former vice president for university advancement at Taylor University, as the sixteenth president of Ouachita Baptist University on April 7, 2016. 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), Andrew Westmoreland (1998–2006) and Rex Horne (2006–2015).

In 1965 the college changed its name to Ouachita Baptist University.[3] 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), the Student Village residence halls (2009) and Cliff Harris Stadium (2014).


Academic rankings

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 Pruet School of Christian Studies, Michael D. Huckabee School of Education, School of Fine Arts, W. H. 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.) degree, but the school also offers Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) and Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees. Study abroad programs are offered through the Grant 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 12:1.

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission with specific programs accredited by 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.[5] There is a joint Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program with neighboring Henderson State University. The OBU ROTC program dates back to 1886.

The university was ranked #173 in the 2019 National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings by U.S. News & World Report.[6]


Cone-Bottoms Hall, home to the Grant Administration Center, is the oldest building on campus

Ouachita Baptist has an 85-acre main campus. There are eight academic buildings: Jones Performing Arts Center (which includes Verser Theatre), Moses–Provine Hall, Mabee Fine Arts Center, 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.

Student life

Ouachita's Student Village residence halls are connected to the main campus via Heflin Plaza, a walkway that bridges the campus ravine

Ouachita is primarily a residential campus, with 94% percent of the students living in one of eight on-campus residence halls and five off-campus apartment complexes. Only students who have family in the area, are married or 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.

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, Beta Beta, Kappa Chi, and Eta Alpha Omega. Current women's social clubs are: E.E.E., Chi Delta, Tri Chi, Chi Mu, and Gamma Phi.

In the spring, Tiger Traks invades the campus for two days of competition among 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 and ministry opportunities for students.

The Signal is Ouachita's student newspaper and the Ouachitonian is the university's yearbook.


Ouachita's iconic Tiger statue has stood in silent vigil over the campus since 1935

Main article: Ouachita Baptist Tigers

OBU fields intercollegiate men's teams in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, cross country, and wrestling. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. The school mascot is the Tiger, and colors are purple and 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 six schools from Arkansas and 6 schools from Oklahoma. The football Tigers were the conference champions of the inaugural 2011 season as well as the 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019 conference champions.[7] In wrestling, a sport not sponsored by the GAC, OBU competes as a single-sport member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.[8]

Ouachita's men's tennis team earned four consecutive GAC tennis championships, women's soccer won the GAC championship in 2014 and 2021 and men's soccer won the inaugural GAC men's soccer championship in 2015.[citation needed] The men's basketball team has earned conference championships in 2013, 2015, and 2016.[citation needed]

In 2010, Ouachita Baptist was the first university in Arkansas to offer an NCAA wrestling program. Dallas Smith, a four-time All-American, earned the program's first national title at the NCAA Division II National Championships in 2015.[9]

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.[citation needed] The teams first met in 1895.

The Ouachita Tigers competed in national tournaments in men's basketball, swimming and wrestling in 2016. Other successful teams on the national level include the 2009 women's basketball team, reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball National Tournament, and 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 the NCAA Division II World Series.[citation needed]

Several intramural sports are also available for both men and women. These include football, basketball, softball, volleyball, dodgeball, innertube water polo and tennis.

Notable alumni

Main category: Ouachita Baptist University alumni

Music and the arts

Public office



Nonprofit leadership

Armed services

See also


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009."U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "College Navigator - Ouachita Baptist University".
  3. ^ a b Lyon College 1872-2002: the Perseverance and Promise of an Arkansas College (c). University of Arkansas Press. 2003. pp. 392–. ISBN 978-1-61075-255-8.
  4. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2022". Forbes. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  5. ^ Ouachita Baptist University: Accreditations and Memberships, Retrieved 2012-08-05
  6. ^ "Ouachita Baptist University". U.S. News & World Report Best College Rankings. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  7. ^ GAC Press Release, Retrieved 2012-02-28
  8. ^ "GLVC Wrestling Admits Ouachita Baptist as Associate Member" (Press release). Great Lakes Valley Conference. August 2, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  9. ^ "First time for everything |". Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  10. ^ "Gary Deffenbaugh, R-79". Retrieved January 5, 2014.
  11. ^ "Lance Eads". Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  12. ^ "Jake Files' Biography". Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  13. ^ "Richard Womack". Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Ouachita Baptist University to Induct Five into the Athletics Hall of Fame".