Chancellor Johnson Tells USAO Grads: ‘Dream, Work, Give’
CHICKASHA -- Urging graduates to dream big, work hard and give charitably, Oklahoma’s new chancellor of higher education addressed an overflow crowd at fall commencement ceremonies on Friday night at the University of Science and Arts.
Dr. Glen Johnson addressed 80 graduates and their families in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium on a stage decked in poinsettias and lighted fresh pine boughs. More than 1,300 guests saw the event on campus and the ceremony was televised on the USAO Channel.
In his first major address since his appointment this week as chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, Johnson praised the graduates for their ambition, and the college for its distinction.
“I commend you for your dedication and hard work in reaching this milestone,” Johnson said. “Whatever your career field may be, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to provide leadership. Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if you must go against the crowd. If you believe in what you do, you can make a positive impact. … One of my heroes is Thomas Jefferson, who told us, ‘the most important thing you can do is to strive for success.’”
For his leadership in Oklahoma political and higher education systems, Johnson was inducted last month into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Since 1997, he has served as president of Southeastern State University in Durant. He was chairman of the state Council of Presidents in 2004-05. Before that, he served 14 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as speaker of the house from 1990-96.
Johnson cited USAO’s achievements. “You are the only college in Oklahoma to be cited on ‘America’s Best Colleges’ very exclusive 2007 national list of ‘Great Schools at Great Prices,’” he said. “President Feaver, you have set lofty goals for your university, and you are well on your way to reaching those goals. The university community has much to be proud of at USAO and, as the incoming chancellor of the Oklahoma State System, I pledge to you that I will do all that I can do help you achieve your goals.”
Johnson told grads to expect obstacles but dream anyway. “It’s okay to dream. And don’t be afraid of failure or tears. All of us will encounter bumps in the road to success. What is important is how you deal with bumps in the road. A baseball player once led the league with 1,330 strikeouts. If you look at that statistic alone, you’d think he didn’t amount to much. And that same player, Babe Ruth, hit 714 home runs.”
Johnson described Abe Lincoln’s many failures on his trek to the White House. “There will always be bumps in the road, but success is defined by the whole picture, not single events. Clearly, success is a marathon race and not a 100-yard dash.”
Quoting the first President George Bush, Johnson encouraged grads to “embrace faith, family and friends.”
“At this university, you’ve been given a very solid foundation on which to build a lifetime of learning. There are a lot of very special people here tonight, your family, friends and professors. They’re all here because they care about you. They’ve given you a great deal of encouragement, support and knowledge. They’ve made sacrifices. Cherish their support and their love and friendship. Give a very heartfelt thanks to your parents this evening.”
Finally, Johnson urged charity. “Oklahoma is first in the nation in charitable giving. It’s time for you to reinvest and put your education to good use,” he said.
“Your education is truly a global tool that you should use for the betterment of your community, your state and your country. Remember the words spoken by Robert Kennedy in 1968: ‘You can use your privilege, your opportunity and your education to seek purely personal gain. But history will judge you, and as the years pass by, you will judge yourself by the extent to which you have used your gifts to lighten and to enrich the lives of your fellow human beings.’
“I urge each of you to give something back to your community, your church, your university, and your state. … There is no experience that is better for the human heart than to reach down and lift someone else up. To serve others, to enrich your community – this defines a successful life.”
USAO President John Feaver presided at the ceremony, his seventh fall commencement since being selected by the USAO Board of Regents to serve as the university’s 12th president.
Platform guests included four members of the USAO Board of Regents: Chair Gretchen Roddy of Duncan, Teresa Adwan of Tulsa, and Mary Tolbert and Wes Johnston, both of Oklahoma City.
The evening featured the first commencement in the Te Ata Memorial Auditorium since its name change and remodeling this summer as part of the Te Ata World Premiere. That production drew 3,300 guests from more than 30 states to Chickasha for the theatrical debut based on the life of Oklahoma’s first State Treasure, native Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata Fisher, a 1919 graduate of the Oklahoma College for Women (now USAO).
Renovations to the auditorium forced the spring commencement outdoors in April, the first time the University held an outdoor commencement in 50 years. New carpet, paint and lighting were added as historic seating was reupholstered and refinished. The renovation was made possible in part by a $25,000 grant from Oklahoma City-based Kirkpatrick Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Craig Foundation.
For each commencement, faculty members traditionally select outstanding graduates from each of the university's academic divisions. Marcie Price was named outstanding graduate in the Division of Arts and Humanities. In the Division of Business and Social Sciences, Annabell Lee Bryant was honored. Judy Simmons shared the distinction with Domineque Swart in the Division of Education and Speech Language Pathology. Modupe Apetuje and Natalie Grounds were named the outstanding graduates in the Division of Science and Physical Education.
In a separate ceremony, Alumni Association President Paulette Pogue of Tulsa presented the Distinguished Graduate Award to Marcie Price of Moore.
Price graduated cum laude with a bachelor of fine arts degree. A recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Governor George Nigh Leadership Scholarship, she was inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, as well as the Hypatia Honor Society. As an artist, Price’s works have appeared in multiple exhibitions at USAO. Her comic strip, “Thoughts from a Girl,” won two state awards and appeared in the student newspaper, The Trend, from 2003-06.
Since 2005, Price has starred as one of the co-hosts on Studio 18, USAO’s award-winning cable access TV show. She was an active member of the Art Club as senate representative for two years.
In the community, Price volunteered as a painter for Chickasha’s Kid’s Place playground. She served as a Sunday school teacher at The Church of God in Moore for five years. Since September, Price has created publications and marketing materials for the Alumni Association as a graphic designer for USAO Public Relations.
Dr. Jan Hanson, professor of music, conducted graduates and guests in singing the “College Hymn,” accompanied by Dr. Stephen Weber on the organ. Stacie McCracken, Ardmore music senior, sang Carrie Underwood’s “Whenever You Remember,” with accompaniment by Woodward art junior Chris Castor on guitar.
Dr. Dan Hanson, professor of music, performed “The Great Gate of Kiev” by Modeste Mussorgsky as the recessional. Members of the honor societies, Alpha Lambda Delta and Hypatia, served as ushers for the event.
Feaver issued 56 bachelor of science degrees, 20 bachelor of arts degrees, and four bachelor of fine arts degrees.
Receiving bachelor of science degrees were:
Amber: Riley Thomas Prather (cum laude)
Anadarko: Joan Marie Williams
Apache: Michael Charles McCracken
Blanchard: Joseph Alan Davis, Rebekah Ann Lippard, Hollie Nikole Vaughn
Cement: Rebecca Mae Dayton, Ashley Brooke Gibson
Chickasha: Cody Wayne Englebretson, Hannah Lauren Harris, Ryan David Horn, Katherine Michelle Jacobson, Brian Leo Myers, Liane Nicole Verhines, Christina Claire Wray
Choctaw: Alicia Jeanette Locke
Cleveland: Tiffany Lynne Treadwell
Dibble: Jeffery Lynn Harris, Sarah Beth Rangel
Duncan: Domineque Dawn Swart (summa cum laude)
Durant: Dana Falynn Browning
Ft. Cobb: Natalie Dawn Grounds (cum laude)
Lindsay: Carol Leigh King, Misty Renée Shepard, Judy Diane Simmons (summa cum laude)
Moore: Dana Lachelle Askins, Kathryn Renee Swartzendruber
Mustang: Stacy Michelle Crumley
Ninnekah: J. Diane Carroll
Noble: Crystal Dawn Hawkins
Norman: Deanna Renee Heath (cum laude), Jessica DiLynn Tripp, Stephanie Marie Price, Amanda Jill Pecore, Samantha Kim Pecore
Oklahoma City: Annabel Lee Bryant (summa cum laude), Amanda Lynne Sexton
Sand Springs: Meghan Thomas O'Bannon
Springer: Amy Elizabeth Potts
Tuttle: Ashley Dee Byrom (cum laude)
Woodward: Matthew Russell Long, Heather Dawn Wall
Out of state:
Clarendon, Texas: Marcia D. Terry
Gainesville, Ga.: Tara Renee Van Hauen
Katy, Texas: Austin Garrett Bliss
Lake Mary, Fla.: Analisa Lynn Lewis
Lakewood, Calif.: Martha Jean Imhof (cum laude)
Philadelphia, Pa.: Je'van A. Sayles
Richardson, Texas: Cornelius Mandrell Wicker
Rosenberg, Texas: Nikki Lea Aguilar
Washington, Mo.: Elliott Douglas Ballmann
Wichita Falls, Texas: Amy N. Behrens (magna cum laude)
St. Paul, Minn.: Jason Christopher Gruber
Out of country:
Brazil: Marli Almeida Morais
Lagos Island, Nigeria: Modupe Adedoyin Debbie Apetuje (cum laude)
Welling Kent, England: Adam Lee Day
Receiving bachelor of arts degrees were:
Alex: Derek Lee Wilson
Amber: Tara Caldwell Couch,
Anadarko: Michkala Arlene DeForest, Jenny C. Head
Ardmore: Stacie Lee McCracken
Broken Arrow: Stacy Nicole Neely (magna cum laude)
Chickasha: Jeffrey Dale Crutchfield, Michael Lynn Morris (magna cum laude)
Choctaw: Michael Lee DeLong II
Cyril: Gary Ryan Perry
Duncan: Jovon Dee Wells
Forgan: Cassandra Lynn Carter
Hobart: Amanda Dawn Wikel
Indianola: Julie Elizebeth McElyea
Lone Grove: Gregory Stewart Dudley II
Minco: Karen C. Brady (cum laude)
Newcastle: Jessica Ann Strangfeld
Oklahoma City: Jeffrey Robert Elliott
Out of state:
Los Angeles, Calif.: Norma Elizabeth Jennings
Out of country:
Germany: Anne Shannon Stout
Receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree were:
Amber: Angela Jeanine Moore
Duncan: Crystal Gine Mayes
Moore: Marcie Roshell Price (cum laude)
Seminole: Lauren Nicole Biddy (cum laude)