SBU celebrates 142nd school year at formal convocation

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Three faculty members and a staff member were honored at Southwest Baptist University’s annual convocation Wednesday, Aug. 21 – the opening of the 142nd session of the University.

Convocation marks the formal beginning of the academic year, a time when campus gathers to focus on SBU’s mission and traditions, and a time to reflect on where SBU has been as an institution and to celebrate its future.

“This year, we will launch new strategies that are focused on advancing SBU to accomplish our mission,” SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner said. “Our new students bring an entirely new dynamic, energy and pool of God-given gifts that we will all enjoy.

“While we do not know what this year will bring, we know and celebrate the One who does. I can assure you, we will look to who we are, our traditions, and where we have been together, as we embrace who the Lord is shaping us to be.”

Convocation Address

The tradition of the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award recipient delivering the convocation address continued with Joe Wooderson, the 2019 honoree. The award recipient is chosen by previous graduating classes and is presented annually to a faculty member “regarded by SBU graduates as a distinguished teacher.”

SBU kinesiology chair Joe Wooderson (center) is honored by SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner (left) and Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle.Wooderson joined the SBU faculty in 2005 as assistant professor of kinesiology. He currently is the chair of the Department of Kinesiology and is an instructor of physical education. He is a member of NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education) and PETE (Physical Education Teacher Education), as well as MOAHPERD (Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance).

Wooderson earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary education and physical education in 1975 from Southwest Baptist University. He received his master in education administration degree from Drury University in 1981 and a specialist degree in education administration from Missouri State University in 1995. Wooderson taught in public schools for 30 years, coached and also served as an elementary school principal, prior to his return to SBU.

Wooderson and his wife, Charlotte, also an SBU alumnus, live in Springfield. They have two sons, Caleb, who is married to Kara, and Jared, who is married to Kari – all graduates of SBU. Joe and Charlotte have three grandchildren – Jace, Hailey and Isaac – with another due in October. They are members of South Haven Baptist Church in Springfield, where Joe serves as deacon and has participated in several youth and mission trips.

In his address, Wooderson asked the audience, “What makes SBU different from other universities,” and “What makes it unique.” He recalled a pastor’s sermon on the church, and how as a body of believers, it has a Kingdom purpose – much like SBU is a body with a Kingdom purpose.

“I want you to see SBU from perhaps a different perspective than you have before,” Wooderson said. “As believers and followers of Jesus Christ our Lord, our spiritual well-being depends on our connection with Christ through his body. In our case, that body is Southwest Baptist University.

“Every part of the body has a particular role to play, and every member of the body has a job to do and a function to perform. It’s a Kingdom purpose to fulfill.”

Wooderson pointed to three keys of the body of Christ at SBU, in relation to I Corinthians 12:

    1.    We need one another. “In the body of Christ here at SBU, we need each other. Not only for the health of the body as a whole, but to enable each individual member to operate in full potential. It is true in the human body, it is true in the church, the body of Christ, and here at SBU – we do need each other. And, we belong to each other. Every member of the body matters, every part of the body has an important contribution to make, and a Kingdom purpose.”
   2.    We are all different from one another. “There’s never been a member of Christ’s body exactly like you or me. There’s a particular role in the body that God has uniquely designed each of us to perform. Each of us has been given different gifts, strengths and abilities.”
   3.    We are called to care for one another in the body. “In verses 25-26, Paul says that there is to be no division, no dissension, no schism in the body. But, that every part should have respect and concern for one another. When one part of the body is hurting or in pain, the whole body feels it. When one member is honored or has a reason to celebrate, the whole body shares its joy.”

“As a group of believers, every college, field of study, team, organization and club is a member of this body of Christ at SBU,” Wooderson said. “Every Christian possesses a gift and is called to use it in service within the body to build up this body, to strengthen this body and to carry out the strength that is the Kingdom purpose.”

Newcomer of the Year awards

The Newcomer of the Year awards began in 1995 to recognize one full-time faculty member and one non-teaching staff member who, in their first months of employment at Southwest Baptist University, demonstrate exceptional commitment to the University’s mission and make a positive impact as part of the SBU family. Faculty and staff members who have been employed full time for no more than 18 months prior to the selection process are eligible. Committees of peers select the winners.

“This year for the 2019 Faculty Newcomer of the Year, we had somewhat of an anomaly occur – we had a tie,” Turner said. “When asked to distinguish between the two, both candidates brought such unique traits that it was decided the tie would stand.”

Faculty Newcomers of the Year:

Dr. Kevin Patterson returned to SBU in August 2018 and currently serves as the chair of Graduate Studies in Education. Prior to coming to SBU, he was superintendent for the Ozark School District from 2013-2018.

Dr. Kevin Patterson (center), chair of SBU's graduate studies in education, was named Faculty Newcomer of the Year.In one short year, Patterson has become a leader on campus and in the upcoming year, will expand his leadership influence globally. As chair of Graduate Studies in Education, he has quickly taken to leading his faculty in strategies for his department. He has done outreach with local school districts to foster some early professional learning opportunities and perhaps recruit those professionals to enroll in the graduate education programs. It was reported to the dean, Dr. Kevin Schriver, that when we got him ‘we got us a good one.’”

Patterson earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from SBU in 1987 and was a member of the Bearcat football team. He received his master of science in education and education specialist degrees from Missouri State University and his doctor of education from Saint Louis University.

Patterson is married to Sarah, who also is an SBU graduate and retired teacher from the Ozark School District. They have three adult sons, two of which are married, and are active members of First Baptist Church of Ozark.

Dr. Elsy Shuford (center), instructor of Spanish at SBU, was named Faculty Newcomer of the Year.Elsy Shuford joined the University in August 2018 and currently serves as an instructor of Spanish in the Department of Language and Literature on the Bolivar campus.

Prior to coming to SBU, she practiced as a dentist in her native Venezuela before immigrating to the United States to join her sister. She then earned her master’s degree in interior design in Florida, where she met her husband, Philip.

The Shufords eventually moved to Missouri where Dr. Shuford earned her master’s in applied second language acquisition from Missouri State University.

Dr. Shuford has been on several international mission trips, often serving as an interpreter. She will serve as interpreter for the SBU physical therapy students on their mission trip to El Salvador in December and will lead her own team of SBU students on a mission trip to Uruguay in May 2020.

The Shufords have two children and are members of First Baptist Church of Ozark, where Dr. Shuford has served as extended care worker, Vacation Bible School leader and mission team interpreter.

Brad Beckham (center) director of Meyer Wellness and Sports Center, was named Staff Newcomer of the Year.Staff Newcomer of the Year:

Brad Beckham currently serves as the director of the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center, organizing the Wellness Center, intramurals, exercise classes, activities and games, as well as overseeing SBU’s esports team. Beckham earned his bachelor of science degree in religious education from SBU in May 1997, and has served in Southern Baptist churches ministering to children, youth and families in St. Louis, Ozark, Mo., and Niceville, Fla.

Beckham demonstrates a caring approach to serving students, as witnessed by his colleagues:

•    “I have seen the impact he has had on students’ lives. He sets a great example of Christian service, not only in the day-to-day of his job, but also in the discipleship relationships he fosters.”
•    “He has made noticeable improvements to the Wellness Center, such as adding scriptures on the walls and making updates to the fitness center.”

Beckham is married to Kirstin (Landes) ’96. They have three daughters: Hannah, Abigail and Elizabeth.


Photo 1: Joe Wooderson, assistant professor of kinesiology, (center) delivered the convocation address during the Aug. 21 Chapel. SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner (left) and SBU Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle presented Wooderson with an award recognizing his selection as the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher. The winner is announced each year at graduation and then is the speaker at the next fall’s convocation.

Photo 2: SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner (left) and SBU Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle present Dr. Kevin Patterson, chair of Graduate Studies in Education, with the Faculty Newcomer of the Year Award.

Photo 3: SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner (left) and SBU Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle present Dr. Elsy Shuford, instructor of Spanish, with the Faculty Newcomer of the Year Award.

Photo 4: SBU President Dr. Eric A. Turner (left) and SBU Provost Dr. Lee Skinkle present Brad Beckham, director of the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center, with the Staff Newcomer of the Year Award.

*Published: 8-22-19