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120 and Going Strong!

For the first five years of my formal education, I walked six blocks every day to a small neighborhood public school, McDonough 27.

On my way to and from school, I passed many neighbors who knew me and my family. My teachers, who were also our neighbors, were respected community fixtures. To this day they, who are still with us, are honored in the old neighborhood. If you were to ask me about them in the middle of the night, I could recall their names and the order in which they taught me. While our neighborhood school didn’t have many of the modern technological devices that were then popular, it did offer the most robust and important element of the educational process—a rich, deep, caring, and intimate connection to the devoted teachers who shaped me.

Seven years later, after the ‘60s and ‘70s journey to distant schools because of legally-mandated integration, I found the same deep, intimate and caring connection to devoted teachers, but this time on the college level—at Oakwood. Here I found a new generation of warm and cherished relationships with teachers, with names such as Reaves, Moseley, Richards Barnes, Davis, Winslow, Gooding, Lacy, and a constellation of others.

On many days while I am walking the campus, visiting Moran Hall, standing in Cunningham Hall, or teaching in the Moseley Complex, I can still feel the rich and ever-present embrace of their godly influence and teaching. My fondest prayer is that I can pass on to today’s students the same love and richness that my Oakwood teachers poured into me—a love that lasted not simply four years, but throughout 40 years.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Oakwood was God’s recruiting center for Christ’s mission. The value of service to the Lord and the world were inextricably tied to the mission of my Oakwood education. If the most important issue in the last days is the great controversy, and if we are truly living in the final days of world history, and if the most important issue in life is whether our young adults are actively deciding their allegiance to one of the two contending powers in the universe, then the most significant experience we can provide for our children is an increasing immersion into the mission of God’s remnant church.

This edition of the Oakwood Magazine stands on 120 years of the rewarding influence of the many men and women who built this institution into what it is today. Administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, retirees—many have “rested from their labors,” but “their works follow them.” From 1896 to now, Oakwood University continues its ministry of transforming lives and equipping students for successful service through their chosen careers.

In this edition we provide you an overview of some of the modern initiatives which will define Oakwood for today’s generation. We share our first ever Founder’s Day Celebration, where we gratefully reflected on our 120 year journey. We also present our annual Agape Day, during which our student body annually delivers an outpouring of service to the Huntsville community. We tell you about today’s version of what you may know as College Days—but retooled for the millennial generation as an interactive and immersive experience called Oakwood Live! Speaking of millennials, we are very intentional in preparing them for the 21st century workforce through our 2.75 million dollar Career Pathways Initiative. These are just a few illustrations that “our dear Oakwood” is 120 years old and going strong.

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