The Board of Trustees at Williams Baptist University elected its officers for the coming year Friday. The board, meeting in regular session on the WBU campus, also heard good news about the university’s enrollment climbing for the third consecutive 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.

“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.”

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.

“I can’t adequately express my appreciation for Dave Russell’s service and his friendship,” Norman said. “We have benefited tremendously from his wisdom as a leader and from his generosity toward WBU. His board term is expiring, but he and Debi will remain a vital and active part of what we do at Williams.”

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.

The board heard details on WBU’s strong fall enrollment numbers. On-campus enrollment climbed 3.5 percent since last fall. Over the past three years, enrollment on the Walnut Ridge campus has increased by 31 percent. 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,” the president noted. “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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