SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) – Students, both beginning and graduating, have taken a ceremonial walk on the OBU campus oval every year since 1915.
That was when workers finished Shawnee Hall, sparsely furnished, still on the bald prairie, but perfect for what would become the Bison mascot at Oklahoma Baptist University.
Retired professor John Parrish points out, “They picked bison because there were still buffalo wallows around on the campus.”
Parrish lost count of how many times he walked the same oval, on the original 60 acres the city of Shawnee gave the Oklahoma Baptist Convention to build a college.
“They met in classes downtown at 1st Baptist Church,” he says of the very first classes.
Parrish came from a newspaper job in 1964 to teach Journalism and Public Relations. Over the years, this place kind of grew on him.
“I think the collegiality, the friendship with faculty, and the dedication of the faculty,” he lists as reasons.
He had lots of jobs before finally retiring, from teacher to fundraiser, to sports announcer, even Interim President.
His term actually lasted about as long as OBU’s first president J.W. Carrol who retreated back across the Red River to Texas only a year after he took the job in 1911.
Parrish smiles, “I’ve covered a pretty broad side of the University.”
John knew some of those founders and he’s been around to see the place change and grow.
“It’s been very fulfilling and rewarding to be related to an institution like OBU,” he states.
Every February Bison, young and old, stop for a bit to think about the humble beginnings at OBU, the struggle to stay open in the beginning, then through a Depression, through wars, and two pandemics.
It took, “a lot of prayer meetings,” he admits, “a lot of sacrifices from original faculty.”
The Great Commandment and The Great Commision still hold sway here, just as the founders prayed they would.
OBU Founders day is February 9.
For more information about the university and its history, visit OBU’s website.
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