The university celebrated the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year and welcomed almost 900 new freshmen to campus during our 176th Fall Convocation on Aug. 11.
The current student body is comprised of around 3,735 students who range in age from 16 to 71. In opening remarks, UMHB President Dr. Randy O’Rear said when the college began in Independence, Texas, in 1845, only 24 students attended the first classes. He also noted that this year 607 students are the first in their families to go to college.
After UMHB faculty proceeded into the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center arena, there was a parade of flags, representing each of the 31 countries and territories around the globe and 34 states around the nation from which UMHB students have journeyed to campus this year.
This year’s speaker was Dr. Carol C. Holcomb, a professor of Christian studies and director of the UMHB Center for Baptist Studies. In her remarks, she dared students to ask questions about their vision, passions, and purpose in life and look for those answers while at UMHB.
“This is a place of breathtaking possibilities! A passageway to new places, for those who have vision—as the Bible says—for those who have eyes to see! Here at UMHB, you will find connections to opportunities if you will have the courage to be curious,” said Holcomb, who has taught at UMHB for 22 years.
For many new students, she said it was a monumental achievement coming to college. “Just getting to this moment has been an unbelievable journey of grit and sweat and determination,” Holcomb said. “We are so proud of you for making it this far! We know that anxiety, stress, and worry can sometimes blind you and make it hard to see! It can hinder our vision and make it difficult to see what is important. But I have some good news for you! Today is a new day. You can look up! You can dream. You have enrolled at a Christian university, and we specialize in possibilities. We are experts in new beginnings!
Holcomb is a native of Louisiana and graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in history. She earned a Master of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate in religion from Baylor University. She joined the religion faculty at UMHB in 1999.