State dignitaries and Haitian Baptists visit Williams Baptist College

Back row from left: Melissa Hobs, associate professor of biology at Williams Baptist College; state Rep. James Ratliff; state Sen. Robert Thompson; Rex Nelson, executive director of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities, and Williams President Tom Jones. Front row from left: professor Mesidor Alix and student Dave-son Val, both of North Haiti Christian University.WALNUT RIDGE – Two visitors from Haiti met two local legislators and the head of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities recently at Williams Baptist College.

Professor Alix Mesidor and student Dave-son Val of North Haiti Christian University met state Rep. James Ratliff, state Sen. Robert Thompson and Rex Nelson, executive director of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities on June 16.

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Eric Turner named next BRTC president

TurnerPOCAHONTAS – Eric Turner, dean of adult education at Williams Baptist College, which is located in Walnut Ridge, has been named the next president of Black River Technical College (BRTC) in Pocahontas.

The board of trustees of the college made the announcement Thursday, June 19, according to The Times Dispatch newspaper in Pocahontas. Sue Gibson, board chairwoman, made the announcement.

Turner was selected from a pool of 26 applicants. 

Turner and Dennis Rittle, provost and vice president of learning at Ozarka College in Melbourne, were publically named finalists. 

Both candidates gave their presentations last week, toured the campus and met with faculty and staff.

“We are very excited to have Eric joining the BRTC family as the new president,” said Gibson. “We had two excellent candidates, which made the decision a difficult one, but we feel that we have chosen the best fit for the college and the community.”

Turner has been with Williams Baptist College since 1997. He served at Williams as director of annual giving and alumni relations, director of development and was vice president of institutional advancement from 2003 to 2012, prior to being named dean of adult education in 2012, according to The Times Dispatch.

He earned a baccalaureate degree in history from Williams, a Master of Arts degree in history from Arkansas State University and a Doctorate of Education in higher education administration from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College.

Turner is a native of Randolph County and active in the Pocahontas Rotary Club and a member of First Baptist Church, Pocahontas. 

He and his wife, Barbara, reside in Pocahontas with their daughter, Emma, who attends St. Paul’s Elementary.

“Barbara, Emma and I are humbled by the confidence placed in us, and we look forward to joining the BRTC family,” said Turner. 

“The opportunity to serve my hometown region in this capacity is highly meaningful to me and my family. We are honored and excited to be partnering with the college and the community as a whole,” he added.

Turner will be the third president of BRTC following Wayne Hatcher whose contract ends June 30 after serving for three years, The Times Dispatch reported. Hatcher replaced long-time president Richard Gaines upon his retirement in 2011.

Turner’s starting date has not been announced.


New Life-OBU holds dedication June 10

CONWAY – New Life Church (NLC) in Conway hosted a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, June 10, to celebrate a new educational partnership between NLC and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU).

OBU at NLC will offer Associate of Arts degrees in general studies and Christian ministry with in-depth opportunities for students to serve with and be mentored by NLC pastoral staff in hands-on ministry experience. Eleven students are preregistered for OBU at NLC’s inaugural semester, which begins Aug. 26.

The partnership was approved by Ouachita’s board of trustees in December 2013. Since that time, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has approved Ouachita’s request to offer associate degrees and approved the university’s application to offer degree programs at an off-campus location. Stan Poole, Ouachita’s vice president for academic affairs, said a confirmation visit from the HLC will be held within the first six months of the program’s operation.

The resolution adopted by university trustees affirms that Ouachita and New Life “share a vision for equipping the next generation of Christian leaders with a quality education and passion for Christ’s work in the world.”

The resolution adds that the new degree programs “will provide a high-quality, relational and ministry-focused Christian education that is both nonresidential and highly affordable.”

“Equipping the next generation of church leaders with a Christian education has been part of the NLC vision from the beginning,” said Rick Bezet, lead pastor of New Life Church. “We are honored to be partnering with such a prestigious institution to make that vision a reality.”

Ouachita President Rex Horne noted, “It is my hope and expectation that the endeavor with NLC will see more students experience the difference of a Ouachita education.”

Brandon O’Brien, a 2004 Ouachita alumnus, is coordinating the work of OBU at NLC. 

“We are grateful for the high-caliber students the program has already attracted,” he said. 

“This program offers a unique opportunity in the city of colleges: a chance to receive a world-class Christian education in the context of a life-giving local church,” O’Brien said.

A 7,000-square-foot facility is being remodeled specifically for OBU at NLC classes and administrative offices.


Reed celebrates 66 years in ministry

Raymond Reed, 87, pastor of First Baptist Church, Grady, celebrated 66 years in the ministry June 9. He served as associational missionary for Bartholomew Baptist Association for about 17 years. He has served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Grady, since 1990.


OBU at NLC to award private scholarships for 2014-15 school year

CONWAY – New Life Church (NLC), with cooperation from generous supporters from the Conway community, will award scholarships to the inaugural class of OBU at NLC students.

Scholarships will be awarded based on a variety of criteria. Every full-time degree-seeking student who begins coursework in fall 2014 will be eligible for a one-time award.

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