Virginia Embree graduated from OCWin 1938 with bachelor’s degrees in English and business.
After a brief time with Standard Oil in Tulsa, she returned to her alma mater in 1941 to serve as assistant registrar and then as registrar and director of placement service for eight years. During that time, she held the office of secretary of the Oklahoma Association of Collegiate Registrars.
She arrived in Seoul, South Korea in June 1951 as part of a group of educators who were establishing a new university. The war began the day after her arrival and the group escaped the country via a bread truck and then a Norwegian fertilizer ship bound for Japan where they survived on oranges. The Korean conflict continued, so she was re-assigned to Washington, DC. She returned to OCW in 1951.
Embree served as the first fulltime director of the USAO Alumni Association. She was a leader in the fundraising, planning and construction of the Alumni Chapel – which was dedicated in 1968.
She was instrumental in creating the Alumni Hall of Fame and Alumni Scholarship Program. She established many alumni chapters in different cities and recruited new students from across the country – even driving the rural roads of eastern Oklahoma.
She served as alumni director until her retirement in 1979 with 25 years of service as the alumni director and more than 40 years of service to the university. Embree was inducted into the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame in 1974.
Embree passed away in 2009 at the age of 94. The conference room in the Stevens Alumni House was named the Virginia Embree Conference Room in her honor.
The scholarship, in honor of her memory, is awarded to female students. Embree taught more than a generation of women, especially her nieces, to expect and receive more than the best from themselves.
At her induction into the USAO Alumni Hall of Fame, Embree said this: “This tribute is like white hyacinths for the soul. I am a collector – of ideas and friends, impressions, and love and laughter. I am a part of everyone that I have met – and all those with whom I have worked. And I hope perhaps a part of me rubs off on you.
“I’m grateful to former college presidents who took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to work with graduates and former students. And to those graduates and former students whose loyalty to the college and personal encouragement and moral support sustains the operation of the alumni organization . . . thank you all.” Back to Scholarship Page