Hello, my dear friends! I am so glad to be back with you.
As Jacob already said, I left you for a while because I was getting married! In some ways (marrying a Baptist at age 22) I suppose I am very much a typical OBU girl. :) For those of you interested in pictures, some of the teasers are here.
I write this post for fairness (Jacob got to brag about his beautiful new daughter) and also because, believe it or not, my wedding reminded me about some of the things I love about OBU.
It has been asserted that I hate OBU or that I have turned my back on OBU. That may be true in some ways. But on my wedding day, I could not help but notice how much OBU has given me. OBU will always be a special place in my heart-- it is the place I met my husband. And not only that, it is the place I met the majority of my bridal party. Actually, now that I think about it, there was only one person in the wedding party who was not either family or a friend from OBU.
OBU really was a great place for me. I received an excellent education and met some of the best friends that anyone could ask for. Together, all of us questioned, discussed, learned, and grew. As I have said before, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think that sometimes I forget the huge hand that OBU has played in who I am today. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that students like me will not be going to OBU much longer. And the ones that do go are much less likely to have my same experience.
When I was a junior in high school, looking for a place to spend my college career, I was not the typical person who might generally be looking to OBU. I was not a Baptist and I was not an Oklahoman. But I was drawn to the school because I had a friend who loved it there and saw that it was recognized across the board for spectacular academics.
My parents, believe it or not, did not want me to go to a faith-based school. Outside of the "Bible Belt" it is not uncommon to hold the assumption that faith based schools do not have as good academics as their secular counterparts. When it came to choosing a college, my parents were far more concerned about academics. The point of paying for an education is to get an education-- not to become a better Christian.
I think that this is still a pretty fair argument. But I wanted to study religion, and my heart was set on OBU. In the end, my parents were convinced by OBU's excellent rankings and both of them really enjoyed the visit that the three of us made to campus. Believing that the educational investment would be worth the money, they happily sent me to Shawnee, where I believe none of us were disappointed in what I got.
Now, at OBU, I learned that perhaps getting an education and growing in your faith are more related than my parents were willing to believe during my college search. But, as I learned from Arthur Holmes during welcome week, a Christian college is not a church. The primary goal must still be education-- although one may be surprised to find that even in pursuit of that goal Christ is King. At OBU, I saw the beauty of joining a community honestly seeking both God and truth.
I am unsure that if I were looking for schools now if my parents would be convinced by OBU. If you haven't seen Jacob's post on OBU's falling rankings, the numbers are startling. When I chose OBU, my parents trusted that although they disagreed with the school ideologically, I would still get a fantastic education.
But is that still true today? Or has OBU lost sight of its vision? In an effort to protect its "Christian-ness," I fear that OBU has stopped being an excellent institution of higher learning. The problem is that its excellence is part of what made OBU Christian. Each of us was encouraged to study as a means of encountering God-- and to do so with excellence for that is the highest calling of Christ.
Now, I am afraid that OBU is trying to be safe. But encountering God has never been safe. And so instead of good, Christian education, OBU is offering pat answers and certainty.
My parents would never have been willing to pay for that-- and I'm sure I wouldn't have wanted it.
Those of us who are vested in OBU's future need to consider what kind of students we will be attracting with this new path the institution has taken. If we continue in this way, I fear that our story may be similar to the SBC seminaries-- which it seems many OBU grads are avoiding. We will no longer be able to attract the best students; they will find their education elsewhere.
Please continue to help us bring OBU back to the place that made me first fall in love with it. I know I am not the only one.