Oklahoma Christian University leaders recently renamed the auditorium in the Garvey Center in honor of university donors Benton and Paula Baugh of Houston, TX. After the auditorium’s public renaming announcement, a plaque commemorating the Baughs was unveiled on the wall near the main auditorium entrance.
“Though Benton and Paula never attended Oklahoma Christian, it’s been our privilege to adopt them, as they have adopted so many others,” President John deSteiguer said at the dedication ceremony.
The Baughs have supported several Oklahoma Christian departments through donations. In 2013, the Baughs pledged $1.7 million to establish an endowed chair in the college of biblical studies. The following year, the Baughs gave a $1 million gift to serve as startup capital for the university’s newly reorganized college of engineering and computer science.
Benton, with more than 50 years of experience in oilfield and subsea systems, is active in management, design and consulting. He has received more than 100 U.S. patents and is an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston, his alma mater. Benton founded Radoil, Inc., and served as its president until recently selling the company. Paula is actively involved with organizations like World Bible School and Impact Houston Church of Christ, which serves hungry and homeless people through its inner-city congregation.
In support of STEM, Benton founded the Baugh Wind Energy Design Competition, where Oklahoman middle and high school students participate in a test of knowledge and application of wind engineering on the Oklahoma Christian campus. The top three places win cash prizes awarded to their school, and judges also look for designs of great ingenuity to award $1,000 for creativity in problem-solving. The third annual competition was in Feb. 2019. Benton funds the event so there is no cost to either the participants or Oklahoma Christian.
“In all cases except one, Oklahoma Christian has determined a need and made a specific request of us, and we responded,” Benton said. “The exception is the funding of the wind energy contest in the engineering department. Improvement in wind energy is a subject which needs to be handled more efficiently, and Oklahoma Christian was in a position to make a significant impact and is making a significant impact.”
As members at Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, TX, the Baughs were introduced to Oklahoma Christian by pulpit minister David Duncan, an Oklahoma Christian alumnus and trustee.
“[Duncan] arranged for me to come to campus and speak to students about my experience in engineering, invention and patents,” Benton said. “We were welcomed into a university with a strong biblical basis and very friendly environment. We cannot imagine a better place to make a contribution to help provide a better Christian education and Christian environment.”
The Baughs said they feel it is a great honor to have the auditorium in the Garvey Center named after them, but that it is also a bit surreal.
“Benton and Paula Baugh have blessed Oklahoma Christian University with their resources, time and talent over and over again,” deSteiguer said. “This special family has a heart for students, for unity and for evangelism.”
According to the Baughs, they are taking advantage of some of the resources of Oklahoma Christian to develop a better understanding of church growth principles and how to distribute and implement that better understanding.
“The actual legacy we would like to leave is having helped, in some small way, the Churches of Christ to return to an evangelistic Great Commission growth profile,” Benton said. “In a sense, we are partnering with Oklahoma Christian in this in that the gifts we have been blessed to make will be of some assistance.”