November 14, 2019 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search has recruited Heath Thomas as the 16th president of Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). He will assume his role in January. The search was led by consultant Debby White and founding partner Price Harding.
Dr. Thomas was selected following a nine-month process, which included the partnering of CarterBaldwin and the elected presidential search committee. The committee was chaired by OBU trustee Ben Stewart and included seven additional trustees as voting members, along with four ex-officio, non-voting members representing OBU faculty, alumni, current students and the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO).
“The search committee spent much time in prayer, asking the Lord for direction,” said Hance Dilbeck, executive director, treasurer of the BGCO and an ex-officio member of the search committee. “They also followed a very intentional and thorough process. The Lord has been faithful to lead them to a distinguished scholar, capable preacher and a committed Baptist churchman who exudes enthusiasm and vision for the future of OBU. Dr. Thomas loves the Lord and he loves OBU. I join all Oklahoma Baptists in supporting him. I believe we will see the Lord do great things in the years to come.”
A 1998 OBU graduate, Dr. Thomas currently serves at the school as dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry and associate vice president for church relations. He is also interim dean of the divisions of behavioral and social sciences and language and literature, the Floyd K. Clark chair of Christian Leadership and professor of Old Testament. He joined the 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, NC.
“The board of trustees was delighted to elect one of our own, Dr. Heath Thomas, as the 16th president of OBU,” said Stephen Allen, chair of OBU’s trustee board, senior vice president, general counsel and assistant secretary for natural gas company ONEOK, and a member of the search committee. “As a student, Dr. Thomas experienced OBU’s Christian liberal arts tradition. As a dean and a member of the faculty, he understands the importance of integrating faith and knowledge as we train the next generation. As a president, he has the vision to continue the mission of OBU well into the future.”
Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.
Oklahoma Baptist University is a private Baptist liberal arts university in Shawnee, OK. It was established in 1910 and is owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees in 88 areas of study, five master’s degrees and eight certificate programs in which students learn how all knowledge connects and how that framework can be informed by a thoughtful Christian worldview.
Proven Search Consultants
Headquartered in Atlanta, CarterBaldwin provides executive search services in the healthcare, technology, non-profit, consumer services, industrial and media/telecom sectors. Its clients include a number of name-brand institutions, such as KPMG, ADP, Teradata, First Data, Duke University, Pepperdine University, New York Life, Fleet Pride and Berkshire Hathaway.
Mr. Harding has been principal consultant on nearly 1,000 recruiting engagements for C-level leadership, officers and directors for privately held and publicly traded companies. He also co-leads CarterBaldwin’s university and non-profit search practice.
Ms. White is a consultant in CarterBaldwin’s non-profit and higher education practice. She focuses on university president, cabinet and officer level executive searches. Prior to working in search, she spent 25 years in higher education in a variety of vice president and senior leadership roles.
Ms. White and Mr. Harding together have led president searches for Trinity Christian College, Grove City College, Gordon College, The King’s College, Midland University and Taylor University. They have also placed the associate dean at Duke Divinity School and deans at Seaver College and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media