As a diverse coalition of OBU students, staff, and alumni, we are grateful for your interest in Oklahoma Baptist University. We're biased, of course, but over the years we have found OBU to be a great place to work, study, and live. Our wellspring of affection for OBU is so deep, in fact, that we are grieving over recent changes -- some subtle, some dramatic -- that have deteriorated the quality and integrity of OBU's academic program.
This website lays our objections to some of the policy and personnel changes that are leading OBU away from its proud liberal arts tradition. We invite you to explore the site and email us with any questions you may have. Specifically, we are concerned about the following:
- Dismissing well-loved and highly effective faculty members without just cause, but rather for ideological reasons
- Remaking the faculty by replacing aging moderates almost exclusively with younger conservatives and fundamentalists who adhere to the ever-more extreme Southern Baptist party line
- Disregarding faculty norms, ignoring faculty search committee recommendations, and creating an unsustainably contentious and hostile dynamic between faculty and administrators
- Gutting curriculum areas like philosophy, a core discipline in the liberal arts which is being replaced by "Christian apologetics," a Sunday school-like field that spoon-feeds answers rather than engages tough questions
- Censoring academic materials by contracting with a fundamentalist bookstore, thus denying the OBU community access to mainstream boks in the natural and social sciences, history, literature, the arts, philosophy, and non-fundamentalist theology
With the weight of all these problems heavy on our hearts, we can offer only a qualified endorsement of OBU to prospective students at this time. We wish this were not the case, as there are so many redeeming qualities about OBU, not least of which is a still-outstanding faculty compared to many peer institutions. Even as OBU boasts expanding graduate programs, strong enrollment and even a new football team, it is struggling to maintain a robust commitment to what has long been its bread-and-butter: a rigorous, balanced, and moderate Christian liberal arts education. OBU's reputation is suffering, too. In only two years, it has dropped from #109 to #390 in the Forbes college rankings. Other Baptist colleges that have been taken over by fundamentalists have experienced dramatic faculty morale problems and have even struggled to maintain accreditation. OBU is still a long way from mass firings or being stripped of accreditation, but the sad truth is that all these recent changes have hurt our reputation. Until we see a change in administrative leadership (at this point, we're seeking a change in direction more than a change in personnel), we believe OBU is on the wrong path.
Given the high cost of the investment you are considering, we feel an obligation to alert you to these issues. The most academically talented students seeking a distinctively Christian higher education should also consider Wheaton, Calvin, William Jewell, and Whitworth. Colleges operated by the Baptist General Convention of Texas are easy to get into (except Baylor) and have been generally free of the fundamentalist influences that have recently deteriorated OBU's academic program. Oklahoma City University is, of course, more urban. It is also not nearly as conservative.
Please continue to keep OBU under consideration. In spite of the problems noted above, Bison Hill remains a truly special place. Yes, it it has a policy of forced chapel attendance and forbids men and women from socializing in each other's dormitories. It is a very authoritarian institution and prizes conformity. But you will find professors who genuinely care about your intellectual and spiritual growth. You will find a community that truly nurtures your development as a person. And, though Shawnee is a small city compared to some of your hometowns, you will be surprised how much fun you will have there with your new friends. Should you decide to pursue medical, law, divinity, or other graduate degrees, you will find that OBU prepares you well. Professors have a demonstrated commitment to individual students' success. Even though two great professors were forced out and treated shamefully, literally dozens of amazing professors remain at OBU.
We suspect that OBU's admissions office will not bring any of these issues to your attention. However, we do urge you to let the university know that you, too, are concerned about the issues raised here and that they weigh heavily on your decision. In addition to alumni, Save OBU counts many, many current students and OBU parents among its strongest supporters. Should you decide on OBU (and we hope you will), we are especially eager to welcome you into our movement.
Our Very Best Wishes,