Williams Baptist University appoints new board chairman; enrollment up for the third year in a row

by George Jared ([email protected]) 222 views 

The board of trustees at Williams Baptist University elected its officers for the 2021-22 school year.

Dr. Jody Smotherman of Batesville will serve as board chair for the coming year. Smotherman, who is the chief strategy officer with the White River Health System, was elected unanimously by his fellow board members. Smotherman will replace Dave Russell of Jonesboro, who has served as chair for the past three years. Russell, who is president of Tekla Research, is rotating off the board when his term expires this fall.

“We took time to thank one good friend for his exemplary service, and to welcome another good friend into the chairman’s position,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman. “Dr. Smotherman has served a number of years on our board and has been a faithful supporter, plus he has a daughter enrolled at Williams. He believes passionately in WBU’s Christ-centered mission, and we are excited to have him leading the board.”

Other board officers for the coming year will be J.R. Cox of Walnut Ridge, who will serve as vice-chair, and Jamar Andrews of Jonesboro, who will be secretary. Cox and his family operate Cox Equipment in Hoxie, and Andrews serves as the pastor of Word Baptist Church.

In other business, on-campus enrollment climbed 3.5% since last fall. Over the past three years, enrollment on the Walnut Ridge campus has increased by 31%. Total enrollment, which includes on-campus, online and off-campus numbers, grew to 629 this fall.

“WBU experienced this growth even in the midst of a pandemic that seriously hindered our traditional student recruitment activities,” Norman said. “The board joined me in expressing our deepest appreciation to the enrollment management team and the entire WBU campus family. This was a true team effort. Above all, we thank God for his providence in once again blessing Williams in this way.”

The WBU Board of Trustees is composed of 24 members from around the state, and they are appointed by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. The board meets three times annually.

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