Photo by Sarah Dean

The Duvalls make Ouachita their home

April 11, 2024

By Emilee Webb, Print Editor-in-Chief

Two of Ouachita’s very own, Dr. Scott and Judy Duvall, have spent a large portion of their lives giving back to the OBU and Arkadelphia communities. Ouachita alumni themselves, the pair have seen firsthand the impact this university has on its students. 

Dr. Scott and Judy Duvall’s relationship began on this campus; the two met during the 1979-1980 school year, when Judy had just begun her time at OBU. Dr. Duvall was a senior, and according to him, he knew that he wanted to get to know Judy from the first time that he saw her. 

“I remember seeing Judy in the caf and thinking ‘that’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,’” Dr. Scott Duvall said. “I can remember I had some family members come up for the football game, and I was up in the stands when Judy walked by. I nudged my brother, and I said, ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’” 

It took some time for the two to get to know each other. Their relationship began as a friendship and then evolved into something more. 

“I can remember Susan Atkinson, who introduced us, saying that she just wanted me to meet this really great guy,” Judy Duvall said. “I went to Noonday, and he was speaking, and I thought, ‘wow, I’d like to get to know him.’ Then, that spring during Christian Focus Week, we started getting to know each other more. That summer, we got to go on a trip to Colorado with the Methodist Student Union at Henderson. We pretty much knew at that point that our relationship was a forever one.” 

Dr. Scott and Judy Duvall pose for a photo together during their time in college as students. The pair returned to Ouachita 1989. (photo provided by Judy Duvall)

The two were married shortly after Judy completed her time at Ouachita in the spring of 1982. The couple moved to Fort Worth, Tex., where Dr. Duvall was pursuing his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though the two never imagined having the chance to return to Ouachita later in life, the opportunity became available to them at the perfect time. 

“We got a call from Bud Fray, who was the chair of the department back then. It was 1989, and they needed someone. We had the opportunity to come back to OBU. With these positions, it has to come up at the right time, so we’ve seen the Lord at work there. We returned with a three month old and a two year old, and a third daughter arrived four years later,” Dr. Scott Duvall said. 

The couple received a warm Ouachita “Welcome home!” They planted roots in Arkadelphia and have remained faithful, active members of the community ever since that original meeting in 1989. Now, Judy Duvall serves as the director of the Elrod Center for Family and Community, and Dr. Scott Duvall teaches college students as the Fuller Professor of Biblical Studies in the Pruet School of Christian Studies. 

As director of the Elrod Center, Judy Duvall oversees the work of the center’s programs and its staff, with a focus on ElderServe and Tiger Serve Day, which is a campus-wide event that meets practical and relational needs in the local community once a semester. 

“It’s a great joy to work with the Tiger Serve Day Leadership Team of students each semester planning a day that meets many needs in our community,” Judy Duvall said. 

She began her work with the Elrod Center as the ElderServe director, shaping the program around needs she saw in the community. 

“When I first started, I thought we’d be helping like we do on Tiger Serve Day,” Judy Duvall said. “But, my mom, who worked with senior adults, told me not to just assume you know what people need. She told me that you have to really ask them. So, I sent out a survey to all of the senior adults in Clark County, and the results showed that they overwhelmingly said that the greatest need was companionship to combat loneliness. From those results, I structured the whole program around developing friendships between students and senior adults in the community. 

“I love helping students discover their unique gifts and talents and thinking about how they can use those to serve others and God. Helping students make connections through service is a wonderful part of my job,” Judy Duvall said. 

As a professor, Dr. Scott Duvall spends his days in the classroom, lecturing, writing and engaging with students as they learn how to read and understand God’s Word. Dr. Duvall feels as though his life’s work is to do just that: serve as a mentor and a guide to college students as they begin their adult lives and make their faith their own. 

“I’ve always felt drawn to college students. Helping students understand and apply God’s Word is my favorite thing. Teaching, writing and mentoring are my favorite parts of my job. We’ll have a day in Spiritual Form when I can just see everything clicking in the students’ minds. There’s just nothing like that. It makes me think ‘this is why I’m here,’” Dr. Scott Duvall said. 

Spending time with Ouachita students has been one of the main things that Scott and Judy are able to do together on campus. By meeting with students, either on campus, at church events or through small group events in their home, the Duvalls have made a difference in students’ lives for years. 

“Sometimes [the students] keep up with us and sometimes they don’t, but they never leave our hearts. We have them for four years, and they become a part of us and stay a part of us. We count it a real privilege to do the work that we’ve done at a place like this and to be able to share it together. The thing that we’ve always done together is being involved with the students,” Judy Duvall said. 

“I’ve got a box in my study at home where I keep notes from students,” Dr. Scott Duvall said. “I’m going to wait until I retire to look through them all. It’s amazing to work with people who are this grateful and loving.” 

Ouachita has always felt like home to the Duvalls, serving as their “home away from home” during their college years and then becoming their professional home, as well as a community full of colleagues that became close friends and students that turned into family. Though the campus itself has physically changed since the Duvalls spent their time studying, eating meals in the cafeteria, attending TWIRP dances and hanging out with their college friends as students, Ouachita is still the same at its core. 

“This is a very rich place and fosters great relationships. It’s tough when you graduate, but it doesn’t stop. That’s the beauty of it. The main values we have seen and continue to see are commitment to the Lord, commitment to learning, flourishing relationships and an outward mission of service,” Dr. Scott Duvall said. 

“It’s like an immersive experience, and you can’t really understand it until you leave,” Judy Duvall said. “It’s coming at you from the intellectual, the emotional and the spiritual. Really and truly, it hasn’t changed a lot since Scott and I were here. The buildings are different, but it’s the same place. It’s the same heart. It amazes me that every year we graduate people, but we always have the same kind of students who are searching and growing. Ouachita continues to stay the same in all the best ways.” 

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