Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Ralph A. Phelps, Jr.
Dr. Bob Riley
Dr. Paul Root
The purpose of this thesis was to examine the history of the permanent endowment fund of Ouachita Baptist University located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. This endowment fund has played a major role in providing financial stability for the University since the funds' beginning.
The information compiled within this thesis has been derived from every known source. The minutes of the Board of Trustees of Ouachita Baptist University supplied the major portion of the information. Other sources used include the minutes of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce, alumni publications, the county newspaper, letters, papers from private and historical collections, books, court records, periodicals, brochures, and personal interviews with persons having knowledge of the endowment fund history. Many sources examined contained a few facts which, after examining several other sources, contributed to the total findings. There are gaps in information because many records were lost in the fire which destroyed 'Old Main.'
The need for a stable source of income was apparent from the very beginning of Ouachita Baptist University. For several years the financial pressures of beginning a new school prevented beginning an endowment fund. The endowment fund had its origin in 1904 through the joint efforts of the Executive Board of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and the Board of Trustees of Ouachita Baptist University.
The first effort to increase the fund to a point where the earnings would make a sizable contribution to the school's operation was implemented by the requirements of the regional accreditation association. The endowment fund of the school had to be a stipulated amount in proportion to student enrollment for the school to qualify for accreditation. The required money was provided through a fund-raising campaign, a gift by the General Education Board, and an allocated portion from the proceeds of the Seventy-Five Million Campaign of the Southern Baptist Convention. when the school received its initial accreditation the endowment fund played an important role.
The Great Depression brought Ouachita close to extinction. Economic problems became so great that accreditation was lost. Reaccreditation at this time, however, was relatively unimportant, for the institution was fighting to maintain existence. The future earnings for the endowment fund were used as security for bond issues to keep the school in operation.
Another problem the administration faced was that since the earnings from the endowment fund were pledged to pay on the bond issues, endowment revenue was not available for operating expenses. A major fund-raising campaign finally provided funds necessary to pay off the bond issue, thereby releasing the pledged endowment earnings. The financial picture of the institution became more stable as a result; and the added income contributed to regaining accreditation.
The initial plans of the Million Dollar Campaign of the middle 1940's was to increase greatly the endowment fund. The proceeds of the campaign were used for capital improvements, in the main; an insignificant amount was added to the endowment fund.
The future earnings of the fund were used in the early 1950's as part of the security for Ouachita to qualify for dormitory and cafeteria loans through the Federal Government.
In 1956-57, the Ford Foundation made a large grant to increase teachers' salaries. Trustees of the school placed this in the endowment fund with income to be used for this purpose.
The most significant growth in the fund was during the middle 1960's when a fund raising campaign was designed to increase the endowment fund to two million dollars. A gift from an alumnus and a large bequest from a former student made it possible to reach this goal. In the years from 1953 to 1966, 71.00 per cent of the total principal of the fund was added.
In retrospect, the endowment fund's worth had been significant since it played a vital part in gaining accreditation originally and regaining accreditation which had been lost during the period of financial difficulty. It continues to provide the financial stability essential for the growth and development of Ouachita Baptist University.
Orr, Virginia Cavness, "A History of the Endowment Fund of Ouachita Baptist University 1904-1966" (1967). OBU Graduate Theses. 1.