16th OBU Presidential Inauguration, Dr. Heath A. Thomas

OBU celebrates the inauguration of Dr. Heath A. Thomas as the University's 16th president. Four days of events will take place March 24–27 on the OBU campus in Shawnee.

About Dr. Heath A. Thomas

Dr. Heath A. Thomas was selected as the University’s 16th president by the OBU Board of Trustees in November 2019. Prior to assuming his duties as president, he served as dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and associate vice president for church relations, as well as the Floyd K. Clark Chair of Christian Leadership and professor of Old Testament. He joined the OBU faculty in 2015 after serving as director of Ph.D. studies and associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

A 1998 OBU graduate, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a religion minor. He then earned a Master of Arts in Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Old Testament from the University of Gloucestershire (UK). He earned a certificate for leadership in higher education from Baylor University in 2016. He has served on staff at churches in Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina and in the United Kingdom. He preaches and teaches regularly, and has served as interim pastor for several Oklahoma churches during his time at OBU.

Inauguration Events Schedule

Inauguration Chapel & Celebration

Wednesday, March 24, 10 a.m.

A special inauguration week chapel will take place in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium. Dr. Thomas will speak during the chapel service with music from the Charlie Hall Band and Jami Smith King. A special all-employee celebration will take place at 2 p.m. in the Inauguration Festivities Tent west of Sarkeys Telecommunication Center.

Pastors’ Reception & Prayer Service

Thursday, March 25, 4 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.

The University will host a reception for pastors in the Inauguration Festivities Tent west of Sarkeys Telecommunication Center. A special prayer service for the president and his family will follow at 5:30 p.m. inside Raley Chapel.

Due to COVID precautions, only a limited number of invited guests are able to attend this prayer service. Thank you for your understanding.

Inauguration Ceremony

Friday, March 26, 2 p.m.

The inauguration ceremony will take place on the south lawn of Raley Chapel.

Dr. David S. Dockery, founding president of the International Alliance for Christian Education and renowned Christian higher education leader, will deliver the inaugural address.

Inauguration Reception

Friday, March 26

Immediately following the inauguration ceremony in the Inauguration Festivities Tent west of Sarkeys Telecommunication Center. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by the OBU jazz ensemble. All are invited.

Football Game & Harvest Court

Friday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.

Friday evening, the University community is invited to a Bison football scrimmage at 7:30 p.m. The annual Harvest Court, honoring six outstanding seniors, will be announced during halftime of the game, immediately followed by a halftime fireworks display. Harvest Court is typically presented during homecoming in the fall; however, the selection and announcement were postponed due to COVID-19.

Preview Day & Parade

Saturday, March 27

The Office of Admissions will host a special Preview Day, welcoming prospective students to Bison Hill. The “Sweet 16 Student Celebration” will take place on the intramural fields from noon to 4 p.m. A community-wide parade will kick off at 5 p.m. from the YMCA parking lot, located at 700 W. Saratoga St. between Airport Drive and Kickapoo, and will travel down Airport Drive before turning onto campus on University Street.

Bison Concert Festival

Saturday, March 27

The four days of events will culminate with the Bison Concert Festival featuring Colony House and Cavern Company performing on the south lawn of Raley Chapel and food trucks in the Noble Center parking lot.

Food and games begin at 5 p.m., Cavern Company opens at 7 p.m. and Colony House performs at 8:15 p.m.



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