After more than a decade of service, Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) President David W. Whitlock retired Jan. 8 to serve the remainder of the academic year as chancellor.
Whitlock will assist OBU trustees in the presidential transition and retire from university employment effective May 31, 2019.
Will Smallwood, senior vice president for advancement and university relations, will serve as acting president of the 2,000-student university in Shawnee which is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
As chancellor, Whitlock will continue fundraising efforts, serve as OBU’s representative/board member for the Consortium for Global Education, participate in missions opportunity development, and perform other duties as requested by the board or interim president.
“As my 10th anniversary as OBU president approached, my 36th year of full-time work in higher education, Dana and I began to visit and pray in earnest about the right timing for retirement from OBU,” Whitlock recounted. “With the OBU 2020 strategic plan wrapping up this academic year, the planning for a new five-year strategic plan to be written this next year, and many other factors including primarily our sense of God’s calling, we believe that now is the time for my retirement from Oklahoma Baptist university.”
Saying his “purpose in life is to glorify God by inspiring and empowering others to lead lives of consequence, love and laughter, Whitlock noted, “Becoming part of the ‘OBU Story’ has been the honor of a lifetime. To write of my deep appreciation for OBU and its students, faculty, staff, its trustees, alumni and donors, and the Baptist churches that own and govern her would fill a book.” Whitlock said he remains “ready to serve OBU and her mission in whatever other platform God allows me to minister.”
As OBU’s third-longest tenured president, Whitlock’s leadership led to a 20 percent growth in enrollment; construction of six new buildings, including a 32,000-square-foot college of nursing and a center for sports medicine; significant renovations of multiple locations on campus, including Shawnee Hall for its centennial celebration, Montgomery Hall’s second floor to house the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry faculty, as well as other academic areas, residence halls and student and spiritual life facilities. He also led in expanding undergraduate and graduate programs; the Vision for a New Century Capital Campaign, which raised $52.3 million; and the transition of OBU’s athletics programs from NAIA to NCAA Division II.
Trustee chair Stephen Allen stated, “The many significant accomplishments achieved under his guidance and leadership are a testament to his dedication to the mission and purpose of Oklahoma Baptist University.”
Whitlock was named OBU’s 15th president in October 2008 and assumed the presidency Nov. 1, 2008. In 1999, he had joined Southwest Baptist University (SBU) in Bolivar, Mo., where he served as a professor of business, associate provost, dean of the college of business and computer science, and dean of SBU’s adult and off-campus programs. Earlier, he taught for 14 years at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and worked for two years in student life/auxiliary services.
He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Oklahoma and, from Southeastern, a master’s degree in business administration and an undergraduate degree in chemistry. He was licensed to preach in 1993 and served in bivocational pastorate roles in Missouri and Oklahoma.
“Dr. Whitlock and Dana have poured a decade of their lives into Oklahoma Baptist University,” said Hance Dilbeck, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. “On behalf of Oklahoma Baptists, I express deep gratitude for their leadership. We pray for God’s grace and peace in this transition to the next chapter of their Kingdom service.”
OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees with 88 fields of study for its 1,800 undergraduate students, along with five master’s degree programs, for an overall enrollment of 2,011, with students from 37 states and more than 40 countries.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the Baptist Messenger, baptistmessenger.com, news journal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)