By Dr. Ben Sells

President, Ouachita Baptist Univeristy

Growth that matters 

By Dr. Ben Sells

President, Ouachita Baptist Univeristy

At Ouachita, we collect and assess data on student outcomes that provide evidence of progress—of growth—toward fulfilling our Christ-centered higher education mission.  

Some data are similar to that which is measured by every other school, such as graduation and placement rates. Using these metrics, we’re consistently in the top five among all colleges and universities in Arkansas—and number two among similar institutions in U.S. News & World Report’s 12-state South Region. 

Some of the data are unique to Christian colleges. For example, in the most recent survey of 40 peer universities across the country, where students report on several indicators of their individual spiritual growth, Ouachita students consistently score above the average.  

In these areas, we’re as strong as ever, and it demonstrates growth in value: a real and meaningful return on the investments made by students and parents who are paying; alumni, friends and Arkansas Baptists who are giving; and faculty and staff who are serving.  

Growth in these academic and spiritual outcomes, coupled with growth in new programs, helps explain our enrollment growth. During the past five years, Ouachita’s enrollment increased by 10% while total college enrollment in Arkansas decreased by 10%.  

Our comprehensive growth is the reason the Higher Learning Commission—our institutional accrediting body—gave us this spring an exceptional report. In particular, Ouachita is financially stronger now than at any other time in the past two decades.  

While these institutional indicators of growth matter, what matters even more occurs at the personal level—in the lives of our students. Following is an excerpt from a letter sent to me from the father of a 2022 graduate: 

“…the thought that brings tears to my eyes is simply this: Ouachita Baptist University was THE answer to our prayer. The Christian education provided by such a high quality, highly moral, high integrity, dedicated, caring and compassionate faculty and staff have helped [our daughter] to continue her growth as a young Christian woman of faith and determination—and with a passion for her craft. Thank you is too simple, but it comes from a wholehearted belief that Ouachita is doing just exactly what God has called you to do.” 

It’s noteworthy that recent institutional and personal growth occurred despite a pandemic. You – Arkansas Baptists – have been essential to our growth. Thank you for a partnership with God-honoring purpose and results.  

We’re living in an incredibly disruptive and challenging time for higher education, including for Christian colleges. At Ouachita, we continue to need the Lord’s wisdom as well as your partnership and prayers to be faithful to our calling and effective in our work to continue the growth that matters.  

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3 Responses

    1. I am not arguing with you. I am simply curious.
      In what ways was Ouachita not like this in the 1960s?

  1. This quote from a student’s parent, says it all.
    God Bless Ouachita for the work you do.
    Certainly you are a safe wholesome refuge from present day higher education most places

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