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by President Matt Proctor
I’m writing to share exciting news about a change next year in the Academic Dean’s Office. Since 2011, Doug Aldridge has served as OCC’s executive vice president of academics and academic dean. He has provided outstanding leadership—guiding the college through the addition of an online program, the pursuit of regional accreditation, and the planning of a graduate program. Doug has built an excellent academic leadership team, strengthened our faculty, and made needed adjustments to our curriculum. Former Academic Dean Mark Scott once said the dean’s job is “to guard the mission like a junkyard dog,” and Doug has fiercely guarded OCC’s mission of training men and women for Christian service.
Over two years ago, Doug shared with me his thoughts about his eventual succession. Specifically, he would continue as dean through the 2020-2021 school year, then hand the baton to his successor on June 30, 2021. This would allow him to take us through the completion of the regional accreditation process in November 2020 and allow his successor to be in place before the planned graduate program launch in the fall of 2022. Thankfully, Doug shared that he would not be riding off into the sunset. Like previous deans Seth Wilson, Lynn Gardner, and Mark Scott, Doug would step out of the dean’s office and step back into the classroom to teach fulltime.
In our conversation, Doug also shared his belief that Chad Ragsdale would be an excellent choice as OCC’s next academic dean. In 2005, Chad moved from his Illinois preaching ministry to join Ozark’s faculty as a professor of Bible, and since 2013, he has served as assistant academic dean. Chad has the biblical foundations of a theologian, the pastoral experience of a preacher, the cultural engagement of an apologist, and the scholastic bent of an academician. More importantly, he has a genuine faith in Christ, a deep commitment to his family, a demonstrated love for the church, and a firm belief in Ozark’s mission of training men and women for Christian service. He has my confidence, the confidence of OCC’s faculty, and—after his interview in our recent board meeting—the unanimous support of Ozark’s trustees.
“Ozark is a special place,” Chad says. “I’m looking forward to carrying on the legacy of great leaders like Seth Wilson, Lynn Gardner, Mark Scott, and Doug Aldridge.”
Doug adds, “It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to lead the faculty for the last nine years. I am confident in and excited for the leadership Chad will bring to the Academic Dean's Office. He is talented, gifted, and, most importantly, committed to keeping OCC a ‘Jesus School’.”
Mark Scott says of Chad, "I think about all the academic officers who have led us, and in many ways, Chad represents so much of what they all had: history, philosophy, exegesis, linguistics, theology. He has the whole package, and we'll need it in the years ahead."
In the fall of 2020, Chad will be on sabbatical as he completes a Doctor of Ministry degree at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. In both this spring semester of 2020 and the spring semester of 2021, Chad will have the opportunity to shadow current Dean Doug Aldridge more closely in preparation for his upcoming succession. Then on July 1, 2021, Chad will become the sixth academic dean in the 78-year history of Ozark Christian College. As we have prayed, those of us in Ozark’s leadership have sensed the Lord’s providential hand guiding throughout this process, and we will continue to seek his wisdom and help. In the days ahead, please join me in expressing your appreciation to Doug Aldridge for his exemplary leadership, and join me in praying for Chad, his wife Tara, and their children Logan, Adeline, and Ryane as he embraces this new kingdom assignment.