Westmoreland named president of Ouachita Baptist University

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP)--Ben M. Elrod, 13th president of Ouachita Baptist University, was named chancellor of the university, and Andrew Westmoreland, executive vice president since 1995, was named president by the Arkadelphia, Ark., university's board of trustees in its Dec. 11 meeting.

Board chairman William H. "Buddy" Sutton, in making the announcement, said Westmoreland, 40, will officially take the reins of the 111-year-old institution Jan. 1.

Elrod, 67, a graduate, longtime administrator and president of the university since 1988, will assume responsibilities in fund-raising and public relations, Sutton said.

Westmoreland has devoted his career to Ouachita since graduating from the university in 1979. He began his career as director of student activities and later became director of the Ouachita Student Foundation and student support services. In more recent years he has served as a development officer, assistant to the president and director of alumni affairs, vice president for development and executive vice president.

"Dr. Westmoreland is passionately committed to the vision of a university which is Christ-centered above all other considerations," Sutton said. "At first hand, he has earned the confidence and support of Dr. Elrod, the board of trustees and supporters of Ouachita who know well his talents and the depth of his commitment. No one knows the university better nor has a better understanding of its mission as a Baptist institution than Dr. Westmoreland. We could not find a person anywhere in the world so uniquely prepared to serve as Ouachita's president at this time."

Citing the opportunity to learn his craft from Ouachita's two most recent presidents, Elrod and Daniel R. Grant (president from 1970-88), Westmoreland welcomed the challenge of leading the institution.

"I'm embarking on what I know will be a great adventure," he said, "and I am thrilled with the prospect of addressing the opportunities that await us."

Westmoreland has worked closely with Elrod and board members in the past two years to strengthen a strained relationship with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Westmoreland said he believes the future of Ouachita's association with the ABSC is bright.

"The mutual advantages and the historical association can only lead to cooperation," Westmoreland said. "We will be known by the fruit we produce, and our relationship will be built on trust. That is as it should be."

Westmoreland said he plans no major changes immediately, but will base his administration on the fulfillment of five major goals;

-- Develop, retain and recruit faculty members who are at the top of their disciplines and are models of Christian life.

-- Foster a strong sense of responsibility among students.

-- Maintain and develop a clear sense of community on campus.

-- Strengthen relations with the Southern Baptist churches of the state and region.

-- Build a substantial endowment.

Westmoreland, whose academic field is political science, also plans to teach one course each semester, beginning this spring with a section of American National Government.

During Elrod's tenure as president, student enrollment increased from just under 1,200 to more than 1,600, market value of Ouachita's endowment increased from less than $13 million to $29 million, the percentage of alumni giving to the university rose from less than 10 percent to 32 percent, and the campus received a major facelift with the construction of five major buildings and the renovation of several others.

Elrod also was instrumental in the development of an international emphasis at Ouachita. The Daniel R. Grant International Studies program was enlarged to include active exchange/study opportunities in 12 nations, and the number of native internationals on campus multiplied seven times. Ouachita also became a popular college choice among the 50- plus Southern Baptist colleges and universities for children of Southern Baptist missionaries. More than 80 "missionary kids" from around the world were enrolled at Ouachita this fall.

A list of Westmoreland's education was not available at Baptist Press' deadline Dec. 15.

Westmoreland, is a native of Batesville, Ark. His wife, Jeanna, is assistant professor of elementary education at Ouachita. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Riley.

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