Obu Business School Growing at Fast Pace

Article excerpt

Student and business community interest in business education is growing at a fast pace at Oklahoma Baptist University's Paul Dickinson School of Business in Shawnee.

Enrollment jumped 30.4 percent in fall 1989 to 317 students compared with the 1988 fall enrollment of 243, said Dr. Robert M. Babb, dean of the school. Overall, the university grew only 5.5 percent to 1,959 in that period.

Oklahoma Baptist University ranks 22nd largest, by enrollment, on The Journal Record List of Lists of the 25 largest colleges and universities in Oklahoma.

That business school enrollment jump occurred before it was announced that the university was making concrete plans for a new $3.5 million school of business building. The business school is now housed in one of the university's oldest buildings, Shawnee Hall. Babb said he is nervous that the growing business enrollment may overcrowd that building before the new one is ready.

"Students, even those studying for the ministry, are deciding that they need some business courses or a minor in business," said Babb.

Babb said the surging interest in business education seems to emanate from students today realizing that any endeavors they enter will require some "business sense."

Ground breaking for the new business school building is tentatively planned for July 1991, said Dr. Bob R. Agee, president of Oklahoma Baptist University.

That date was moved up from two years further in the future after Tulsa Royalties Co. made a $2 million challenge commitment at the university's founder's day event in February.

That announcement followed the renaming of the school in fall 1989 to the Paul Dickinson School of Business after Dickinson, of Ardmore, committed a $1.5 million endowment to the school.

The school of business last year set an objective of reaching an enrollment of 500 by 1995, beginning from 250 in 1990 and increasing 50 each year, Babb said. The school's enrollment jumped nearly two years ahead of schedule immediately after the goal was set. Maximum capacity of the present school facilities is estimated at 400. Babb said he believes that figure will be exceeded before the new building is ready for occupancy.

Plans for the new building have been designed so it will blend with the architectural style of surrounding buildings and fill the last open spot in the University Oval. It will contain 31,291 square feet on two floors. It is planned to accommodate 500 to 600 students, with laboratories, classrooms and faculty offices. Plans are being drawn by the Tulsa architectural firm of Coleman Ervin Johnston.

Actual cost of the building and landscaping is estimated at $2.8 milllion. The additional $700,000 of the total is designated for furnishings, computers, audio-visual and telecommunication equipment.

"Endowed scholarships in the school of business increased from three to 17 in three years, since 1987. Endowed academic positions have grown from zero to seven in the school of business and general endowment funds from essentially zero to almost $3 million since 1987," said Agee.

He said Oklahoma Baptist has total endowments of about $25 million. …