Monday, January 28, 2013

Save OBU Spring 2013 Agenda

Whether you are excitedly beginning a new semester on Bison Hill or just wish you were, I hope this message finds you well.  Save OBU took an extended break during December and January, with only intermittent blog posting.  With a new semester upon us, here are some of the things we'll be watching and reporting on.

  • Thus far, the most egregious problems have been in the religion/ministry/philosophy area. However, we continue to hear rumblings from fine arts students as well as other sources about concerns in the fine arts department.  Many of these concerns stem from the fact that the administration ignored a search committee recommendation to hire an experienced administrator from another Baptist college and instead installed a more fundamentalist-friendly dean.  I don't mean to dismiss the very valid concerns many students and alumni have, but I am still researching and fact-checking.  Expect a "Fine Arts Fiasco" series in the coming months.
  • Will the provost assert himself again?  Sources indicate that Provost Stan Norman has toned down the pace and intensity of his desire to remake the faculty in the image of a fundamentalist Bible academy.  We don't want to harp on this guy incessantly, but some people who know him and have worked with him believe it is only a matter of time before he gets bored of administrative duties like being editor-in-chief of the alumni magazine (huh?) and starts purging moderates again.
  • Spotlight on past protest/reform efforts.  Though most people experience OBU as a very conformist culture, there have been protest movements over the years.  I want to invite alumni to tell those stories.  I have some documents related to the "Heresy Papers" controversy in the early 1980s, when a few professors were harassed for not being fundamentalists.  One alumna is going to tell a story about a short-lived feminist group that arose in the early 2000s in response to a chapel preacher's intemperate remarks about rape.
  • Connections with other schools.  Different versions of the struggle to protect academic freedom and to ensure ethical administration are happening at many other evangelical colleges.  It's a real problem.  In addition to being a watchdog for OBU, the Save OBU community has become a leader in building bridges to constituents of other Baptist and evangelical institutions.  We want to continue to build and nurture those connections.  Usually fundamentalists have the power to remake colleges in their own image.  And usually they can't help themselves.  But we are here to tell these powerful men, "When you run roughshod over traditions, values, and norms that we cherish, we will call you out. Publicly. Every time."

What else do you think we should be working on as a community? How do you want to contribute and become more involved? Feel free to respond here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Our very best wishes to the students, faculty, staff, and administration of OBU.  We hope and pray this spring semester is a thrilling journey of intellectual and spiritual growth.


  1. I just returned from a visit to William Jewell. Less than 10 years after breaking from Missouri Baptists they now tell prospective students that William Jewell is NOT a Christian School. God help us if you ever have your way with OBU!!!

  2. I expect that countless Jewell students, faculty, and staff would disagree.

    For example, Dr. Andrew Pratt, William Jewell's Vice President for Religious Ministries & Dean of the Chapel, and Jeff Buscher, Campus Minister & Coordinator of Student Ministries and Community Service, might disagree with you, Anonymous.

  3. I still find this blog humorous. Nobody reads it, the majority of Alumni I've spoken too don't even know it exists. I tell them what this blog is about and they roll their eyes.


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