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SBC DIGEST: Ouachita adds diversity exec; Grayson retires from ABSC, takes music position

Ouachita hires Shepherd to support students, faculty, staff of color
By Staff

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP) — Ben Sells, president of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, announced that Lewis Shepherd Jr., will join the school’s executive leadership team as special assistant to the president.

Shepherd’s hiring marks the first time Ouachita will have a full-time position devoted to advancing racial diversity.

“Ouachita, with minority enrollment 16.4 percent of the student body, is more racially diverse than at any time in its history,” Sells said. “However, there is more progress to make. This historic commitment by our university will help make Ouachita a more welcoming and supportive campus for students, faculty and staff of color.”

Shepherd is a double graduate of Ouachita, having earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and a master’s degree in education. He earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“As a graduate of Ouachita connected with many of our alumni of color and as someone who has been the pastor of many black students, faculty and staff, I’m pleased with the progress that Ouachita has made,” Shepherd said. “I’ve worked closely with President Sells on community efforts since he came to Ouachita in 2016. I appreciated his June 1 statement that ‘Ouachita has more to do to advance racial justice and human dignity’ and I’m excited to help lead my university in this area.”

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Arkansas’ Grayson to retire and transition to Ouachita

By Madison Burch

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) — Larry Grayson, music and worship consultant at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC), is retiring from the ABSC after 10 years of service at the state convention and 45 years of ministry service. However, he is not retiring from ministry. He is joining Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) as chair of the Department of Worship Arts at the end of August.

Grayson has a passion for worship as well as a passion for investing in others.

“I remember when I was in a situation where I felt isolated and alone — as far as career goes — and I really wanted to have somebody to talk to,” Grayson said. “Isolation is not your friend. You may be around people all the time and have some connection, but if you’re isolated, you are almost in danger. It will burn you out or you can get a distorted fuse. You need that connection so bad — I need that connection so bad.”

Read the full story here.

Madison Burch is communications production assistant at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

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  • BP Staff