The list of projects in Clark County’s Strategic Plan that will benefit Ouachita Baptist University is “very exciting,” said Dr. Rex Horne, president of Ouachita.
Horne said he was pleased that OBU and Henderson State University partnered with Southern Bancorp and other entities to sponsor the strategic planning process. The 15 months of work have created valid ideas for improvements, he said. “All of the projects listed are very reasonable and doable.”
“We’re looking forward to working with the city and the county” to accomplish these goals. “I appreciate the forward thinking of the group,” he said.
Among the goals affecting OBU in the plan are to facilitate growth at the university, along with its sister school, HSU. Other projects include the establishment of a Native American Heritage Center, creating a new “main” entrance onto campus and expanding enrollment by improving coordination between the universities and communities in the county.
The first goal to be addressed will be the installation of a new main entrance for OBU. Since the university is located away from major highways, some people have difficulty finding it for the first time. OBU is working with the City of Arkadelphia to place a new sign on 10th Street, which is also Arkansas Highway 7, to create a new main entrance to campus.
Horne said the location, near Central Park, works well with the plans OBU has to build new student housing in that area. New housing will be constructed in the area of Conger, Bailey and Daniel halls. “It will bring a whole new look to campus,” he said.
He said he is also pleased that the plan calls for OBU, HSU and the city to work on the appearance of 10th Street between the two campuses, to make it look more like a university entrance should. “This will be a new way to announce ourselves” to people.
Goals in the plan also call for revitalizing the downtown area to provide more activities for college-age students. Horne said he was happy to see such goals included. “I’m pleased to see (the plan includes) making the downtown area more student-friendly,” he said.
The Native American Heritage Center is planned for an area on the Caddo River known as “the bluffs.” The center will include educational programs about Native American life, as well as development of a national memorial park and a training center for Native American heritage and culture.
The bluff area is connected to 40 acres of land that could be used for the construction of the complex. The plan cites the historical significance of the bluff to the Caddo Indians and the contributions made by that tribe to Clark County.
The universities could develop cultural studies to partner with the heritage center. “The property is ideal for such a place,” Horne said.
While the center is still in the discussion phase, Horne said OBU could possibly deed the land for the center to the City of Arkadelphia or the State Parks System if need be. “We could really set things up nicely,” he said.
Horne said he is pleased with all the ideas and projects listed in the CCSP, but he was most proud of the cooperative spirit seen in the formulation of the plan.
“We’re on the right track to making this a great success,” he said.