OBU remembers and celebrates Dr. Travers

If a man’s life is measured by how many people he influenced, then Dr. Michael Travers’ life was full indeed.

Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

If a man’s life is measured by how many people he influenced, then Dr. Michael Travers’ life was full indeed.

Dr. Michael Travers / Courtesy Photo

Students, faculty, friends and family gathered at Immanuel Baptist Church Monday, March 6 at 10 a.m. to honor a professor, coworker and friend.

Dr. Michael Travers passed away last Thursday, March 2, after his battle with cancer.

The community at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) are now remembering and celebrating his life, recalling all the ways Dr. Travers touched their lives.

“I came to campus for a visit in February of 2015, and since I was considering a major in English, the admissions counselor set up an appointment for me to talk with Dr. Travers,”current student Bethany Cole recalled.

“As we began talking about our mutual love for literature, our deep respect for the power of stories and our common desire to integrate our faith with the study of literature, I began to realize that OBU was the place for me to be,” Cole said.

“I attribute my decision in part to that first meeting I had with him, for his desire for himself as a Christian scholar reflected my own.”

Students who had the privilege of having him as a professor know that his knowledge extended beyond literature and taught them so much more than a curriculum.

“Dr. Travers was the first person to ever teach me what it means to not only honor God with your heart and soul, but also your mind,” student Tara McDannel said. “He was a clear example of how I’ve seen the integration of faith and learning in my time here at OBU,” she said.

“He told our class that while we may not be tested or quizzed on all of the daily readings, he strongly believed God desires for us to know the material and do our best in school because He cares about our education,” McDannel said. “Dr. Travers was incredibly kind, wise, and faithful to the Lord. He will be dearly missed, but we can rejoice that the Lord has called him Home.”

Joining the OBU family in 2014, it took no time at all for Dr. Travers to make a difference in student and faculty’s lives.

“From the time he arrived at OBU, Dr. Travers served and led with grace, integrity, humility, and a deep devotion to Christ,” Dr. Brent Newsom, assistant professor of English, said.

“Though he had many other responsibilities, I knew him best as chair of the Division of Language and Literature. He always made time for my colleagues and me, no matter how busy he might have been, and his love for learning and for students was plain to all,” Newsom said. “I appreciate his example of servant leadership.”

TraversLaughing.jpgHis kindness and encouraging spirit was contagious.

“I so appreciate this man,” assistant professor of communication studies and director of forensics and debate Scot Loyd said.

“He was always very kind to me. First, during my time at Louisiana College and then I was pleasantly surprised to reconnect with him at Oklahoma Baptist University,” he said.

“He always had an encouraging word and a warm smile. I was privileged to live across the street from him and his wonderful wife, Barbara. They opened their home to us and made us feel so welcomed,” Loyd said.

“He will be missed, but great is his reward. Dr. Travers was a great Christian thinker, teacher, and servant of God and people,” he said.

“[He was] a man who lived out the tradition of such great thinkers as C.S. Lewis, who he was so fond of quoting,” Loyd said.

“This quote from C.S. Lewis seems especially fitting at this time: ‘Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it.’ This is so true of Dr. Michael Travers. Thank you, Dr. Travers for your wonderful example. May blessings of peace comfort your family as we all rejoice in a life well lived and in the hope of a coming Resurrection.”

His thirst for knowledge was inspiring to all and his love of words shared with both students and faculty.

Dr. Travers earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English at McMaster University in Canada.

He went on to earn a degree in education from the University of Western Ontario before also earning a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University.

His educational expertise influenced many faculty members.

“When I first met Dr. Travers, I was a bit intimidated as he was a brilliant man with an amazingly quick mind,” student publications advisor Holly Easttom recalled.

“Even though I never lost my awe for his intellect and professionalism, he was always so easy to talk to that the intimidation quickly became steadfast respect. He was elegant . . .every word, every gesture thoughtful and deliberate. Words were important to him, and he treated them with deference—that intrinsic elegance he had echoed in every one.”

Even as his cancer progressed, Dr. Travers took what most would consider a burden, and turned it into a tool for learning, honoring the Lord in the midst of a trail.

His faith that he upheld throughout his treatments was a testiment to students and faculty, showing that life’s trials can still be filled with blessings.dr-michael-travers

“We had multiple conversations about things ranging from our favorite literature, the concept of Christian scholarship, and as his cancer progressed, we shared ways in which God had encouraged us through the trials in our lives,” Cole said.

“Not only that, but my siblings and I were blessed to enjoy the Travers’ hospitality last January for a faculty open house, and the time we spent with them was so refreshing.”

Travers’ love for his wife was clear to all and you rarely saw the two separate.

“Aside from visiting with him personally, I think the thing I will miss the most about Dr. Travers is seeing his interaction with Mrs. Travers,” Cole said. “It always brought a smile to my face to see them walking to and from the cafeteria together each day.  They were always the picture of a lady and a gentleman, and it was obvious that their daily ritual brought them joy.”

A verse Dr. Travers quoted often was Lamentations 3:22-23:

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

His testament of faith will be remembered by all who knew and loved him.

In honor of his memory, his family asked, instead of flowers, that donations be made to the Gideons International, an organization that provides free Bibles to all.

They are often recognized for placing Bibles in hotel rooms for whomever may come across them.

You can donate in honor of Dr. Travers’ memory by going to www2.gideons.org/donate.

Bison Hill named the fifth most beautiful campus in the West

This is the first time OBU has been awarded with this honor.

By Allison Jarboe, Features Editor

Christian Universities Online (CUO) recently ranked Oklahoma Baptist University as fifth in its “25 Most Beautiful Christian Colleges and Universities in the West 2017.”

In addition, OBU has ranked 36 in the entire nation for its beautiful campus, and has previously been awarded similar rankings.

Not only is the overall campus aesthetically pleasing, the football field at Crain Family Stadium in the Eddie Hurt Jr. Athletic Complex was given the 2016 Oklahoma Sports Field Managers Association Field of the Year award.

The grounds team that allowed OBU to win this award consists of its athletic fields supervisor, Berry Nichols, and its groundskeeper/gardener, Andrew Thompson.

The Crain Family Stadium hosts many university football games, multiple high school activities and finals, family events, the national NCCAA track and field events and the Shawnee Little Olympics, in addition to a Relay for Life event, daily practices for OBU teams and multiple fitness classes and events.

OBU submitted its application to be put in the running for the award, and this process included extensive information about the care, usage, history,and photographic evidence regarding the field. The care of the field includes mowing, fertilizing, grub and fungus control, and core aerification. This is the first time OBU has been awarded with this honor.

OBU offers new group therapy for students

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Alena Blakley, The Bison 

“There are two types of people in the world: those who think everyone needs therapy, and those who have never been,” actor and bestselling author Jenny Mollen said.

College is oftentimes described as the most exciting time in the life of a young adult, but stress is often a descriptor for students during those years.

To help relieve stress, the Marriage Family Therapy (MFT) Clinic at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) is offering a new therapy groupsfor students and faculty beginning in March.

“We currently have one group (supporting students with anxiety) that will begin this week. We would like to have our groups between four to eight group participants,” Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic Director, Dr. Tara Signs said.

“It’s free to students, and it’s free to anyone in the OBU community.  So employees, staff, faculty, students and their family members; anybody that’s a part of the OBU community, it’s free.”

Dean of Students, Odus Compton, weighed in on what he hopes that students will gain from these in-depth programs.

“I hope they get support, encouragement and tools to build up whatever that group is focusing on,” Compton said.

“Ultimately, we want our students to be successful.  If there’s something that’s preventing them from being a student or a roommate, then if we can help alleviate some of that we want to help.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH) conducted research on mental health on college campuses across the United States.  Their results show why many universities are offering free counseling services.

“One in four students have a diagnosable illness,” NAMH reported.

“40 percent do not seek help, 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have been so anxious that they struggle in school.”

NAMH is not alone in their troubling findings concerning mental health on college campuses.

“About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression,” American Psychological Association said.

Reading the statistics, it is no wonder that the discussion of the need for therapy groups at OBU has been underway.

“I think it’s a need,” Signs said. “A lot of campuses offer different types of group therapy services. My hope is that we can build upon the one that we’re starting and then tailor it to more specific needs.”

Universities across the state offer extensive counseling and therapy programs as well as addiction aid and other resources students can use.

OBU’s new group therapy is composed of a six-week course that was created specifically for the Bison community.

“The curriculum was created by our graduate therapists,” Signs said. “They’re in the masters program.”

Free of charge is a beautiful thing to hear for most broke college students, and OBU offers their services free as well.  Participants simply need to fill out some paperwork.

“You need to complete a group interest form,” Signs said.

“Basically, what that means is that I get the information that you enter in and then I make contact and we schedule you a group intake appointment.  You will go over all the paperwork, any questions and really, ultimately, it’s to decide if this is what you’re really wanting or if it’s a fit for you.”

The six-week course will focus on anxiety, a subject that is encouraged for students to discuss and work through.

“Anxiety is prevalent along college campuses,” Signs said. “So the co-facilitators created this curriculum that focuses on triggers, awareness, how to cope with it and how to deal with it.”

College can be an extremely stressful time, whether it’s over national issues suddenly becoming prevalent or the seemingly endless piles of assignments students try to tackle throughout the semester.  Therapy is encouraged for students who feel anxiety, stress or simply need to talk through issues in their lives.  Again, the therapy is open to all people in the OBU community and is free of charge.

To find out more about the six-week programs, you can go to the MFT website through http://www.okbu.edu/graduate/therapy

City commission authorizes new ladder truck

The purchase of such a big piece of equipment is not taken lightly, and the city commission considered the effects of a new truck for both now and in the future.

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

The Shawnee Fire Department will now have a new ladder truck to ensure extra safety measures. / Preston Morris, The Bison 

Christmas came a little late for the Shawnee Fire Department. They’re going to have to wait to get their gift for another year, but it is anticipated to be worth it.

The City Commission authorized the purchase of a brand new ladder truck for the Shawnee Fire Department, and it is expected to arrive in 2018.

“It will be our main ladder, our main truck engine for downtown,” Fire Chief Dru Tischer said.

“And then we’ll plan on taking the current truck, which is a 2004 model and we’re going to take it to station three on MacArthur. So that way we’ll have an aerial device close to the university, close to the big lot retail area by the highway.”

The purchase of a new truck was something the city commission found worthy of funding.  The new Pierce PUC Pumber truck will cost $657,102.

“My impression or opinion was that the city must keep up with the equipment and vehicle needs of our fire department,” City Commissioner, Lesa Shaw said.

“The upgrades are necessary so that the City may effectively and efficiently meet the service capacity demands of our community.”

The purchase of such a big piece of equipment is not taken lightly, and the city commission considered the effects of a new truck for both now and in the future.

“When I vote on these types of actions I generally consider several factors,” Shaw said.

— Will this action item assist our community and promote safety and security to those providing the service?

— Will it meet future needs?

— Will it enhance services being provided within the community?

— And is this an item that we have budgeted and/or planned for?

The truck’s ladder extends more than thirty feet from the current one at the station, helping the department reach taller buildings easier.

“The current ladder that we have is 75 foot high ladder, and the one that we’re purchasing is 107 foot so it’ll give us another 32 feet in reach,” Tischer said.

“Since 2004, they’ve made a lot of progress in the speed in which you can set up a truck like that. The biggest drawback with the truck we have now is just the height.”

The Shawnee Fire Department covers a wide area in the county so having a truck that will work more efficiently is welcomed.

“We cover roughly 40 square miles of the interior city limits,” Tischer said, “but we also cover another additional 70 square miles outside the city limits.”

The cost of the truck was also taken into consideration, with the new truck being custom made in Wisconsin.

“It will be paid for through a bond and thereby is a planned cost that is viable,” Shaw said.

“The ladder trucks were in need of replacement. They will assist our community and promote safety and security to those operating them and to the community at large.”

The decision for a new truck is not a recent endeavor, but has been an ongoing discussion.

“It’s been something we’ve talked about for a long time,” Tischer said. “Just like any fire department or organization, staffing is tough.  We have to spread ourselves as thin as possible. So when we buy our trucks, we try to make them into a kind of Swiss army knife.”

A Swiss army knife indeed, this truck is planning to be utilized to meet multiple needs in the community, to put the money spent to its best possible use.

“We try to get the most use out of [the truck] because we have so many different needs within the community,” Tischer said.   

The new truck is anticipated to arrive this time next year, giving the community something in which to look forward.

It will be welcomed in full firestation tradition with a wetdown ceremony where the fire station douses the newly arrived truck with water.  The Shawnee Fire Department is looking foward to its arrival.

“It’s a custom-built truck being built in Wisconsin so we’re still about a year out,” Tischer said. “But we’re really looking forward to it.”

AT&T awards OBU $8,000 for STEM initiative

“I’m not sure that we’d be able to do it every year without this kind of sponsorship,” Murimi said.

By Chelsea Weeks, Assistant Features Editor

OBU Photo by Jeremy Scott

“Robotics combines together computer science, engineering, math and physics. It’s a perfect applied sciences field,” Dr. Renita Murimi, Assistant Professor of Computer Information Science, said.

Oklahoma Baptist University hosted a ceremony on Feb. 17 to thank AT&T for their contributing check of $8,000. This check was presented to OBU to help the advancement of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) initiative, which includes Summer Institute camps and VEX Robotics Competitions.

Dec. 3 was the first time a VEX Robotics Competition was hosted in Shawnee. Throughout the state of Oklahoma, 50 robotics teams gathered at the Recreation and Wellness Center (RAWC) to compete against each other using robots that they created.

The grant was able to increase motivation for participates to come by waiving the registration fee for the first 10 teams to register, give out bags to students, have a spare robots table and give a cash prize.

“I’m not sure that we’d be able to do it every year without this kind of sponsorship,” Murimi said.

In order to host the competition, OBU first had to contact Kirk Norrid, the Regional Support Manager for Robotics Education and Competition Foundation in the state of Oklahoma.

Norrid and David Bandy, a third-party vendor who supplied all the robotics equipment, toured the RAWC to see if it would qualify to have the competition.   

“They wanted to make sure that OBU has enough space to host as many playing fields tables for all of the incoming teams,” Murimi said.

The goal of VEX Robotics competition is to teach students a large array of skills ranging from engineering skills to teamwork skills.

OBU hopes to help by being able to continue to host VEX Robotics Competitions.

“Our plan is to expand this; eventually we want to be able to host the state competition. We’re working on making this a recurring event,” Murimi said.

Emily Chadwick, a freshman business management major, volunteered at the VEX Robotics Competition. Her job was to keep score during the Star Struck game.

“I gained more respect and interest in robotics,” Chadwick said. “This can be a very cool and fun environment to learn about stuff that can help and lead to a career. That was really cool.”

Not only did this impact the students, but it also impacted the public.

“The response from the OBU community was overwhelmingly positive,” according to the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation.

The foundation also states that there are more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries in over 1,350 competitions worldwide. Now, OBU is added to that list.

Students battle illness during the flu season

“Nutrition is the best thing you can do to keep from being susceptible to illness,” Campus Nurse Susan Donnelly said.

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Alena Blakley, The Bison

Long ago were the days where you actually wanted a sick day from school.

Any college student who misses classes on account of being sick knows the pain doesn’t end when you get better because catching up on assignments is a struggle of its own.

“I missed a test I had and had to write a paper while I was sick,” junior Amy Munger said.

The 2016-2017 influenza season, which the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Acute Disease Service (ADS) say began October 2, 2016, will continued to be monitored through May of 2017.

The OSDH has been monitoring influenza-associated hospitalizations for ths flu season, reporting that hundreds of people have been hospitalized since Sept. 1, 2016.  OSDH has also reported eight deaths from the flu in Oklahoma.   

Students and faculty can take precautions during flu season by following some advice to help everyone stay healthy.

“Nutrition is the best thing you can do to keep from being susceptible to illness,” Campus Nurse Susan Donnelly said.

“Don’t skip meals or replace nutritious foods with high calorie fast foods, sweets or snacks.”

Healthy eating, plenty of sleep and downtime to relax are not often equated with college students schedules, but they are highly encouraged in order to remain healthy.

“If you are being healthy, your immune system is most likely going to keep you well,” Donnelly said. “Most college students are under a lot of stress which is a detriment to your health.”

Most cough, cold and flu symptoms are passed from person to person, making a college campus the perfect place become susceptible to illnesses.

“Keep your distance around people that appear to be sneezing and coughing because air droplets carry gems to others,” Donnelly said.

“Just like they tell you in grade school, wash your hands thoroughly throughout the day, especially if you are in the same room with someone that is sick.”

When asked what the school can do to help, more sanitation is at the top of the list.

“Maybe the school could get the hand sanitizer things working in the dorms and around campus for students to use as they go by them,” Munger said.

While the sanitizers are often out of stock, small travel-size hand sanitizers, available at stores, are optimal for students and faculty to carry around at all times.

Germs are also passed onto public surfaces, like counters and desks.

The flu virus can live for hours on surfaces like tables, doorknobs and other commonly used surfaces.

“Lysol can be sprayed in the room and all surfaces should be wiped down with Lysol wipes,” Donnelly said.

It is also highly encouraged to get the flu vaccine every year.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) releaed a report estimating that only five percent to twenty percent of Americans get the vaccine yearly.  This fluxuates yearly, depending how bad the influenza is.

While it does not always prevent you from contracting the flu, it can lessen your chances.

If you experience any symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills  or fatigue go get a check up as soon as possible.

Nurse Donnelly’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8a.m. to 5p.m.  For serious illnesses and other major problems, it is recommended to go directly to St. Anthony’s Urgent Care, located at 3208 Medical Park Dr.  Their phone number is 405-878-7160.

For flu vaccines, be sure to check out your local pharmacies.  Flu shots are offered at urgent care centers, pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS and other health care centers.  The vaccine takes up to two weeks to start working effectively.

New minor in advocacy is approved

“It has been approved by OBU so it will officially become part of the catalog this fall.”

By Hannah Ledford, Assistant News Editor

Last fall, Oklahoma Baptist University approved a new Advocacy minor.

Dr. Karen Longest, OBU psychology professor and contact personnel for information about the minor, describes advocacy as bettering the world around us.

Dr. Karen Longest, the prof who helped develop the new minor. / Courtesy Photo

“I would say that advocacy is bringing about change of some kind for something that’s important to you.”

Longest said the idea for this minor occurred during a meeting with some of her coworkers.

“We started a discussion in the Psychology department about the possibility of developing a minor in advocacy because we run across a lot of students who let us know that they really want to do something to make a difference in the world.” 

Although the minor’s origins are based in the Psychology department, the minor will be available and useful for all majors.

“I think also we were trying to find something that would let students major in a wide variety of areas, but still let them bring about change for a cause that’s important,” Longest said.

She said they expect students from a wide variety of majors to take interest in this minor.

“Dr. Roark did an interest survey when we were thinking about developing this and I think there were maybe fifteen different majors on campus of people who said ‘if you offer this I would be interested in it.’”

There will be meeting on Friday, February 24th at 10 a.m. to provide all students with information about the minor from a direct source.

The meeting will take place in the Tulsa Royalties Auditorium in the Bailey Business Center.

Carrie Myles / Courtesy Photo

Carrie Myles, Executive Director of the Milburn Center, said this meeting will be a good chance for students to learn more about the requirements for this minor and the possibilities it can bring.

“The focus of the time will be oriented around reviewing the overall objectives of the Advocacy minor, the required coursework, and the ways that the Advocacy minor can help students advance their calling and career,” Myles said.

The speakers at this meeting will consist of OBU faculty, with Longest being the head speaker.

There will also be a time for students to respond with questions at the end of the meeting.

Myles agrees with  Longest in that this minor is a great opportunity for students with various majors, not just those in the Psychology department.

“There are many majors to which the Advocacy minor could be a great addition,” Myles said.

“We already have many students who find ways to use their majors and careers as an avenue for advocacy.”

Longest said this minor will soon be an option for students.

“It has been approved by OBU so it will officially become part of the catalog this fall.”

All but two of the classes required for this minor are classes that are already offered at OBU.

The two new classes, Cornerstone in Advocacy and Capstone in Advocacy, are designed to ensure students graduate with a better understanding of advocacy and how they plan to use it.

Longest and Myles both hold high hopes as to what this new minor could bring about.

“I’m excited to see the impact our students will have with the addition of more formalized and directed ways of learning how to be most effective in advocating for others,” Myles said.

This new Advocacy minor encompass the calling Christians have from Christ to live for Him and defend those who cannot defend themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9).

You can visit the Milburn Center to learn more.

Green and Gold Gala will feature Archie Manning

“Just as he took advantage of the opportunities he had in his football career, our students do likewise in the way they study, build community and worship while at OBU,” she said.

By Allison Jarboe, Features Editor

NFL retiree Archie Manning will be featured at the Gala at 7:00 p.m. March 7. / Courtesy Photo

The OBU Green and Gold Gala is more than a fundraiser that makes a valuable education experience possible for so many, it is an opportunity to experience the traditions and values of OBU. In the past, this event has hosted public figures like Lou Holst and Benjamin Carson, and this year’s gala will feature retired NFL quarterback Archie Manning.

The event will be hosted in the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum at 7 p.m. March 7. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets are now on sale for sponsorships or corporate tables, as well as individuals. and interested partied are encouraged to purchase as early as possible. Seating is determined from sponsorship level and purchase date. The price is $150 per ticket, with $75 going as a tax-deductible gift toward OBU scholarships. The cost of the ticket includes dinner.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a silent auction and live music.

“Our primary purpose in hosting the gala is to share the compelling story of Oklahoma Baptist University while raising crucial scholarship dollars for worthy students,” said Dr. Will Smallwood, senior vice president for advancement and university relations.

Crystal McKee, Director of Development for Annual Operations and Special Events, explained that many of the virtues that OBU stands for will be represented in Manning’s emphasis on the importance of faith and family and the value of hard work, among other values.

“Just as he took advantage of the opportunities he had in his football career, our students do likewise in the way they study, build community and worship while at OBU,” she said.

“This gala raises money for scholarships for students, to afford even more of these opportunities to more students in the future, so that they, too, may take advantage of those chances and excel in their calling.”

Individual tickets or tables may be purchased through OBU University Advancement at (405) 585-5427 or by emailing Crystal McKee.