Written by: University Relations
TOWER MAGAZINE: Published Summer 2015
Oklahoma Wesleyan is proud to have some of the best faculty in the nation. Their commitment to staying ahead of the curve, upholding our mission, and serving our students is unparalleled. In the past year, we have welcomed three new deans and congratulated three more professors for completing their doctoral work.
Dr. Brian Epperson, Dean of the Chesapeake Energy School of Business
Assistant Professor of Business
Dr. Brian Epperson has his purpose as a member of OKWU’s faculty posted in his office as a constant reminder: “to prepare Christian men and women to compete and win in the business world”. With an impressive list of professional accomplishments, he is uniquely suited to lead the Chesapeake Energy School of Business in doing just that.
Before taking on the role of Dean, Dr. Epperson held the title of Assistant Professor of Business at OKWU, in addition to directing the MBA and the Master of Science in Strategic Leadership programs. Additionally, he led the first-ever John Maxwell Leadership Academy for undergraduates at the university. He also has had great success in the business world.
While Dr. Epperson holds multiple degrees and has a powerful résumé, his mission to prepare Christian businesspersons goes deeper. He is incredibly genuine in caring for students and is passionate about helping them achieve their potential. “Our destiny, purpose, and intentionality can only be found in light of the One who created you with that intention,” He says. “Get to know Him and you will discover what you were put on this earth to go do. Then, wring yourself out going after it and bringing glory to the One that gave you the ability to do it.”
Gentry Sutton, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
Assistant Professor of English
Dr. Gentry Sutton was hired as faculty and to lead Oklahoma Wesleyan’s School of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Sutton has both Bachelor and Master degrees in English, along with a Doctorate of Educational Ministry. He has spent his professional career in higher education, beginning at Thomas Edison State College and then serving in various leadership roles at Sterling College.
As a native Oklahoman, Dean Sutton has watched Oklahoma Wesleyan’s success with interest, impressed by the commitment of OKWU to educating the whole person and promoting high academic standards in a biblical context. He is eager to play a strategic role in that mission:
“I want to see every OKWU student understand and accept that he or she has been specially called by the God of the Universe to cultivate discipline-specific knowledge and skills in order to impact the culture for God’s glory. To marry academic interests with the realization that God has called us to those interests is humbling, liberating, and empowering all at the same time.”
Jessica Johnson, Dean of the School of Nursing
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Professor Jessica Johnson has been at OKWU since 2013 as an Assistant Professor of Nursing. This year, she has taken on an additional role as Dean of Nursing, after serving as interim dean since the summer of 2014. Previously, Professor Johnson taught at Northwest Arkansas Community College and worked as a registered nurse. Dean Johnson is currently pursuing her doctorate in Nursing Practice.
Professor Johnson is passionate about missions, and notes that her mission field as a professor is in her work: helping “prepare nurses to go out and be the hands and heart of Christ.” She put her passion into overseas missions just this summer, leading a team of seven students and two nursing alumni to join the One Nation, One Day missions event in the Dominican Republic with nearly 2,000 other missionaries. In less than a week, their medical clinic in the poorest province of the Dominican served almost 900 patients, and 195 of those patients were led to Christ. The entire event reached 62.2 thousand people.
“Each day I am blessed to share my passion for nursing with my students,” she says. “I am given the opportunity to serve, encourage, and enable my students to fulfill God’s purpose for their life and calling.”
Josh McNall, Ph.D., University of Manchester, UK
Assistant Professor, New Testament Studies
OKWU School of Ministry and Christian Thought
When approached by Dr. Piper in 2009 about joining OKWU’s faculty, Dr. McNall knew it was an opportunity to do two things he had always wanted: “[OKWU] was a mission fit for me and it gave me a chance to teach (which I love), and to do a PhD.”
Dr. McNall earned his Ph.D. at the University of Manchester. His doctoral thesis looked at the British theologian, Colin Gunton, and his treatment of Augustine’s theological legacy. It was published under the title, “A Free Corrector: Colin Gunton and the Legacy of Augustine.”
McNall is passionate about his work, and strives to “help students think deeply about the way of Jesus, and about what it means to follow him in the increasingly complex world in which we live.”
Jerome VanKuiken, Ph.D., University of Manchester, UK
Assistant Professor, Ministry and Christian Thought
OKWU School of Ministry and Christian Thought
Dr. VanKuiken’s vision in life and as a member of OKWU’s faculty “is to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ and learn as much as I can of the wisdom and knowledge that he offers, then pass it along to others. That means motivating students to learn course material…and live it out. That also means keeping abreast of my field of expertise and contributing to scholarship. Lastly, that means being involved in a local church and practical ministry so that my teaching and scholarship stay grounded in real-world experience.”
Dr. VanKuiken successfully defended his dissertation on “The Effect of the Fall on Christ’s Human Nature” to earn his Ph.D.
Wendel Weaver, DBA, Anderson University
Assistant Dean of the School of Business
Chesapeake Energy School of Business
When Dr. Wendel Weaver interviewed to become a faculty member of the Chesapeake Energy School of Business, he asked a question of his own—“is Oklahoma Wesleyan a real Christian college?” He soon discovered that it is, saying a deciding factor in accepting the position “first and foremost was that mission-fit.”
His own mission as faculty is simple, yet profoundly effective: “to create the best possible environment for students to learn.” This mission is included on his syllabi and lived out in every class. Dr. Weaver cares deeply about his students, and often one or two can be found in his office, seeking counsel.
After successfully defending his dissertation at Anderson University, Professor Weaver earned a doctoral degree in Marketing.