Trustees approve new music degree offering, restructuring of academic program, honor of university historian

PLAINVIEW – In its regularly scheduled fall meeting, the Board of Trustees of Wayland Baptist University approved two changes to the academic program at the university and bestowed a special honor on a longtime member of the faculty

The board’s first action was to approve a recommendation from the program committee adding a Bachelor of Music degree in performance to its repertoire for musical studies. Currently, the music department offers the B.M. in music education and church music and the Bachelor of Arts in music, but has not had a formal performance offering. The new degree will offer students tracts in instrumental, keyboard and vocal performance studies. Some restructuring was also done to the B.A. in music to add emphases in theory and composition, music industry and church music and worship.

Trustees also approved a measure that will align Wayland’s academic program more with current higher educational practices in terms of structure and naming, set to go into effect with the new academic year in July 2008. Wayland’s eight current academic divisions will be replaced by eight schools, with some changes in makeup occurring with the change. The Division of Fine Arts will now become two separate units, the School of Music and the School of Fine Arts, encompassing art, mass communications, speech and theatre. The Division of Exercise and Sports Science will be combined into the new School of Education, a common practice at most institutions.

The other divisions will be renamed as follows: School of Behavioral and Social Sciences; School of Business; School of Languages and Literature; School of Mathematics and Sciences; and School of Religion and Philosophy. Additionally, the titles of division chairpersons will be changed to academic dean. To avoid confusion with the external campus leadership title of dean, those individuals will now become “executive directors” of the campuses.

Probably the most heartily supported action item for the trustees was a motion to officially name Dr. Estelle Owens as university historian for Wayland. As professor of history at WBU since 1974 and chair of the Division of Social Sciences for many years, Owens has played a key role in preserving and researching the university’s history. Over the past two years, she has been deeply imbedded in the task as she compiles a history book for the upcoming centennial celebration.

The board motion comes with an official board resolution of appreciation and commendation for her outstanding work in the historical preservation at Wayland. Trustees unanimously approved the measure, several speaking fondly of Owens and her passion for the university that is also her alma mater.

In other board action, the trustees approved renewal of leases for farm and ranch land owned by the university and set the rate for payment for weed control. They also reaffirmed the university mission statement and approved a slate of candidates for graduation in the upcoming months.

Trustees elected new leadership for the board, choosing Gen. Edgar Murphy of Lubbock as chairman, Don Jackson of Amarillo as vice chair, George Meriwether of Plainview as secretary and Dr. Gene Meacham of Plainview as assistant secretary. Outgoing trustees recognized included Dr. Vernon Stokes of Midland, after 10 years of service, the last two as board chair; Rev. Gene Hawkins of Lubbock after 25 years of service; Joe Cargile of Crosbyton after 18 years of service; and Bruce Julian of Perryton after 18 years of service.