Southeastern News

Senator Lankford visits Southeastern

U.S. Senator James Lankford  answers questions at a Community Conversation Wednesday at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The hour-long event, which attracted 150 people, was held in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.  The senator made a number of stops in Durant throughout the day.

U.S. Senator James Lankford answers questions at a Community Conversation Wednesday at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The hour-long event, which attracted 150 people, was held in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. The senator made a number of stops in Durant throughout the day.

Local attorney Pat Phelps receives national Distinguished Achievement Award from Sigma Tau Gamma

photo-pat_phelpsDURANT, Okla. – Longtime Durant attorney Pat Phelps was honored recently with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Sigma Tau Gamma national fraternity.

Phelps was presented the fraternity’s highest alumni honor at the Grand Chapter meeting held in Orlando, Florida, in June.

Established in 1970, the award honors an alumnus of the Fraternity who has achieved distinction in his chosen profession and is selected by vote of the Board of Directors.

Phelps has 50 years of experience in the field of law, and currently serves as attorney for the city of Durant.

He is a 1961 graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a 1965 graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

In 1997, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

“Pat Phelps is very deserving of this recognition,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “His leadership and community involvement demonstrate what this University stands for. He is a great example of an individual who gives back to his community through his time and support.’’

The Distinguished Achievement Award citation reads: “In recognition of his meritorious achievement in his profession, his leadership to free enterprise, his dedicated service to his community, and in appreciation of those eminent qualities which are an inspiration to all members of the Fraternity.”

Among the previous winners of the Sigma Tau award are John Massey of Durant (2001); Dee Brown, author of the classic “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee;” and John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General.

Phelps served as Sigma Tau Gamma’s 17th National President from 1972-74, and as a member of the Board of Directors from 1966-80.

He is deeply involved in professional and civic activities, and was the First Associate District Judge of Bryan County.

Phelps was appointed Chief Judge of The Court of Appeals of The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is a past president of the Southeastern Alumni Association. The Durant High School graduate was also a founder of Durant Youth Services, Inc., in 1971.

Sen. Lankford to hold Community Conversation July 27 at Southeastern

Senator Lankford Official PortraitDURANT, Okla. – U.S. Sen. James Lankford will be in Durant on Wednesday, July 27, to hold a Community Conversation hosted by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The event will be from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall, located on the main loop of the campus (1424 N. 5th Avenue).

“It is an honor for the University to host this event,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “Southeastern and the Durant community are delighted that Sen. Lankford is taking time out of his busy schedule to offer his insight on the legislative process. We believe it will be very informative and look forward to his remarks.’’

After serving four years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lankford was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2014, to complete the remaining two years of retiring Sen. Tom Coburn’s term.

Lankford is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, and also holds the following committee assignments:

— Senate Committee on Appropriations

— Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

— Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

— Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

— Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services,Education, and Related Agencies

— Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

— Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

— Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

— Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Prior to serving in Congress, the Edmond resident served as Director of Student Ministry at theBaptist Convention of Oklahoma and Director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp, the largest youth camp in the United States.

The public is invited to attend Wednesday’s event. Parking is available on the campus loop and behind the Russell Building.


Former Southeastern golfer qualifies for British Senior Open Championship

Kent Samuel will tee off Thursday at The Senior Open Championship.

Kent Samuel will tee off Thursday at The Senior Open Championship.

DURANT, Okla. – When The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex begins Thursday in Carnoustie, Scotland, Bernhard Langer of Germany will be there. Langer, the leading money winner on the PGA Tour Champions this year, will be joined by the likes of Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel  Angel Jimenez, John Daly, Craig Stadler, and Kent Samuel.

Kent Samuel?

Samuel is an accomplished 63-year-old amateur who plays out of The Woodlands, Texas.  He grew up in Durant and graduated from Durant High School and Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Still active as an investment advisor, he plays golf competitively, averaging 25-to-30 tournaments per year.

In open qualifying Monday at Monifieth Golf Links in Dundee, Scotland, Samuel fired an even-par 71 to tie for fourth place. He was one of only 10 golfers in the field of 100 to qualify for the Senior Open event, which is a major championship on the PGA Champions Tour (age 50 and over). Among the past winners are Watson (three times), Langer (twice), and Gary Player (three times).

Open qualifying for the event was held at four different sites Monday, with 402 golfers vying for 38 spots. Among the other 10 qualifiers Monday at Monifieth were former PGA tour winners Willie Wood and Guy Boros, son of the late Hall-of-Fame golfer, Julius Boros.

Samuel’s up-and-down par round featured an eagle, four birdies, six bogies, and seven pars.

The field of 144 will begin play early Thursday with The Golf Channel providing complete coverage. The field will be reduced to the top 70 and ties after 36 holes on Friday.

Samuel will tee off in the second group of the day at 7:10 a.m. (Scotland time). His playing partners are Walt Chapman and Jose Manuel Carriles.

Samuel, who was inducted into the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, played golf at the University from 1972-75. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting/Management in ’75.

In an interview with the Durant Democrat in 2012, Samuel said, “perhaps the most important thing I learned playing golf at Southeastern was how many great golfers there were and that I’d better learn something in class because I wasn’t going to make a living playing golf.”

While at Southeastern, he earned the program’s first-ever all-conference award, earning All-Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference honors after finishing runner-up in the OIC Golf Championship as a freshman.

He was selected as the golf team’s most valuable player in three straight seasons in 1973, 1974 and 1975.

Samuel was named Southeastern’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year three times in-a-row, joining just two others on the men’s or women’s side to have achieved that feat.

After graduating from Southeastern, Samuel earned his CPA certificate and spent 25 years in the oil and gas business in Tulsa, Dallas, Omaha, Nebraska, and Houston.  Samuel married his high school sweetheart, Sue Seago, whom he dated through most of high school. They have been married for more than 40 years.

Their daughter, Kendle, is a teacher in the Conroe (Texas) School District.

His mother Ouita, still resides in Durant.

Southeastern science/medical students expand education with trip to China

students at Beijing Friendship Hospital

Shown at the Beijing Friendship Hospital are, left to right, Casey Love, Hannah Bourne, Baylee Holbert, and Rachel Grider.

DURANT, Okla. – A small group of students and faculty recently returned from a two-week trip to visit China.  Southeastern biological sciences professors Dr. Ning Wu and Dr. Teresa Golden and four students visited hospitals and a research institute there to see first-hand how the practice of medicine and science work in a different country.

Two pre-medical students — Casey Love and Rachel Grider of Durant — as well as two Southeastern to East Central  nursing program students — Hannah Bourne of Durant and Baylee Holbert of Davis — took advantage of this opportunity to expand their education.

In China, the group visited three hospitals: Beijing Friendship Hospital, Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, and Beijing Xuanwu Hospital, all of which are teaching hospitals of the Capital Medical University. The Southeastern students shadowed multiplemedical fields, including Radiology, Neurology, Emergency Room, and ICU. They also visited the clinical simulation laboratories and met with medical students in training at the Capital Medical University.

In addition, the group visited one biomedical research institute, the Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis, in Beijing.  While there, they met scientists and toured the research facilities. This Institute features top-of-the-line technology, including a supercomputing center and DNA sequencing capabilities.

During the trip, Dr. Wu and Dr. Golden gave presentations about their research projects at Southeastern. Several of the doctors and scientists in China are working oncollaborative research projects with the two Southeastern professors.  In the future, some of these collaborators hope to visit and bring students  to study for a semester at Southeastern.

The biology students from Southeastern discovered that they had several things in common with the Chinese students, including the need to spend lots of time studying and theneed to be frugal. They were surprised to find that many of the Chinese people they met were familiar with their favorite American television shows thanks to the internet. The biggest difference the students observed  at the Chinese hospitals was the huge numbers of patients that had to be served  each day, making all areas of the facilities much more crowded than what they have seen in the United States.

The group also took time to visit some of the famous sites in and around Beijing and Shanghai. This included the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden Palace, the Beijing Zoo, Tiananmen Square and Ming Dynasty tombs.

Funding for the trip was made possible through the Southeastern Student Government Association, the students themselves, and the faculty members (who paid their own way).

Business professors author article for Labor Law Journal

Dr. C.W. Von Bergen

Dr. C.W. Von Bergen

DURANT, Okla. – Dr. C.W. Von Bergen and Dr. Martin Bressler of the John Massey School of Business at Southeastern Oklahoma State University will have one of their research articles published in the Summer 2016 edition of Labor Law Journal.

The Labor Law Journal is read by attorneys across the country and used widely in law schools.

Dr. Martin Bressler

Dr. Martin Bressler

Von Bergen is the John Massey Endowed Chair in Management, and Bressler is the John Massey Endowed professor of entrepreneurship.

Their article, titled, “Ban the Box” Gives Ex-Offenders a Fresh Start in Securing Employment,” reviews the practices of companies while screening job applicants.  According to the article, ex-offenders often are not able to obtain a job interview when they report their ex-offender status on their employment application. The difficulty in not finding employment after being incarcerated often leads to higher rates of criminal recidivism.

Nationwide, more than 100 cities and counties, along with 23 states, have adopted what is widely known as “ban the box” programs.  This  requires public and/or private employers to consider a job candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal record. These initiatives, also called “fair chance hiring” schemes, are said to provide job applicants a less discriminatory hiring approach by removing the conviction history question on job applications and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process when there has been a conditional offer of employment.

The authors argue that removing “the box” improves employment opportunities and is critical to designing a robust policy platform to help millions of Americans with criminal records integrate into society.  Von Bergen and Bressler provide a background of reforms by state that attempt to reduce recidivism rates and offer a model approach that employers can use to protect their rights and ensure that employees and the general public will be safe.


Kendra Gross named director of McCurtain County campus

Kendra GrossDURANT, Okla. – Kendra Gross has been named director of the McCurtain County campus (MCC) of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

She has been employed at the MCC since 2000, most recently as Coordinator of Academics/Admissions/Advisement/Financial Aid and Instructional Support. Gross replaces Dr. Bruce King, who is now Executive Director of the Center for Student Success and Native American Institute at Southeastern in Durant.

“We are confident that Kendra will do an outstanding job in her new role,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “We are committed to meeting the higher education needs of our students and the community in McCurtain County.’’

Gross holds a master’s degree in Native American Leadership and a bachelor’s in general business, both from Southeastern, and both through the MCC program.

“I absolutely love working in higher education and helping others achieve their educational goals,’’ she said. “We have a great staff in place, and I feel very optimistic about the future.’’

Among her professional affiliations, Gross serves as a member of the marketing team committee for the 2016 Association for Continuing Higher Education National Conference and meeting.

As director of MCC, Gross will report to Dr. Robin Plumb, dean and director of Educational Outreach.

Gross, who is from Wright City, and her husband, Todd, have two sons.

The McCurtain County campus originated as a higher education center.

In 2005, the higher education center, through legislative action, was converted to a branch campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Campus facilities include traditional classrooms equipped with teaching tools such as electronic whiteboards, document cameras, sound systems and desktop computers; Interactive television classrooms, capable of receiving and sending courses to and from other teaching sites; two computer labs; science labs; conference room; auditorium and library.

The campus is connected to Southeastern in Durant through fiber optics, which allows students to utilize the BlackBoard learning system and CampusConnect student information system.

Through its unique partnership with Eastern Oklahoma State College, the McCurtain County campus provides students with access to a number of popular associate degree programs, including nursing and psychology/sociology.

Popular bachelor degree programs include business administration, psychology, criminal justice, sociology, liberal arts and applied studies, early intervention and child development, and computer information systems.

Elementary Education is a degree in which most of the courses in the major are taught on the campus by MCC anchor faculty member Dr. Barbara McClanahan.

Master degree programs offered include business administration, school administration, and sports studies and athletic administration.

A new program to be offered this fall from Rose State College through IETV is emergency management.

Dr. Bryon Clark named Vice President for Academic Affairs

Bryon Clark

Dr. Bryon Clark

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage has announced an administrative reorganization, effective, in most cases, July 1, 2016.

“We had a large number (27) of individuals who took advantage of a retirement incentive program that we offered this year,’’ Burrage said.  “The retirements included a number of experienced faculty and staff members, as well as several key administrators. It is very difficult to replace that level of experience, especially with the budget constraints that we are facing. In an effort to be cost-effective, we have, in many cases, combined positions and duties. With that being said, we believe we can be efficient, while maintaining a high level of service.’’

In all, 33 employees retired this year.

Some of the key changes are listed below, with new titles listed first:

Dr. Bryon Clark, Vice President for Academic Affairs. He previously served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Graduate Dean. Clark, a professor of Biological Sciences, has been associated with Southeastern since 1990. He holds a Ph.D. from Kansas State University, a master’s from Western Illinois University, and a bachelor’s from Central College (Iowa).

Tim Boatmun

Dr. Tim Boatmun

Dr. Tim Boatmun, Dean of Graduate School, E-Programming and Academic Support. He was formerly Associate Dean of Academic Services (Academic Advising and Outreach Center). Boatmun earned his Ed.D. at Northcentral University, his master’s at New York University, and his bachelor’s at Southeastern. He joined the Southeastern staff in 2000.

Kendra Gross

Kendra Gross

Kendra Gross, director of the McCurtain County campus. She previously served as Coordinator  of Academics/Admissions/Advisement/Financial Aid and Instructional Support at McCurtain County.

— Dr. Bruce King, Executive Director of the Center for Student Success and Native American Institute. He was Dean of the McCurtain County branch campus and has been serving as interim executive director of the Native American Institute since March 1, 2016.


— Dr. Robin Plumb, Dean and Director of Educational Outreach. She was formerly Associate Dean and Director of Outreach.

Liz McCraw, Dean of Student Affairs. She was previously Dean of Student Life.

—  Mike Davis, Director of Compliance and Safety. He was previously Coordinator of Disability Services.

—  Sandra Thomas, Interim Library Director. She had served as Serials, Electronic Resources & Interlibrary Loan Librarian.

—  Dan Simmons, Director of the Physical Plant. He had served as Assistant Director.

Other appointments include:

— Dr. Brett Elliott, Director of General Education

— Dr. Meg Cotter-Lynch, Director of the Honors Program

— Clifford Cox, Director of the Academic Advising and Outreach Center

Elizabeth Watkins, Director of the Learning Center

Dr. Shannon McCraw, Chair, Department of Art, Communication and Theatre

—  Dr. Kay Daigle, Chair, Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Southeastern professor elected to national office with AAUP

Fridley-W-2016DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University Professor of Education William Fridley was elected Secretary of the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) Assembly of State Conferences (ASC), the national umbrella organization for individual state AAUP conferences.

The election took place at the AAUP’s Annual Conference on the State of Higher Education, which was held June 15-19 in Washington, D.C.  Candidates for ASC office must secure nominations from AAUP members in at least three states.  Candidates give a four-minute speech, which is followed immediately by the vote.  At this year’s meeting, there were 45 voting delegates from 22 states.

The ASC provides training and helps to coordinate state activities in areas such as government relations, academic freedom and tenure, membership development, and communications. The ASC also supports the work of state conferences.

Fridley is a founding member of Southeastern’s AAUP chapter and serves as the chapter’s representative to the AAUP State Conference of Oklahoma.  He is also the webmaster of the chapter’s website.

The service with AAUP dovetails with Fridley’s work with the Faculty Senate on shared governance and academic policy.  In April, he was re-elected as Senate Archivist in the first campus-wide election for that position.  He serves on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and chairs the Personnel Policies Committee.

Fridley earned a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and began teaching at Southeastern in 1999.

Paris Junior College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University sign agreement to ease transition for transfer students


PJC president Dr. Pam Anglin and Southeastern president Sean Burrage sign the agreement in Paris Tuesday afternoon.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Paris Junior College strengthened their relationship Tuesday with the signing of an agreement that will assist transfer students.

This 2+2 articulation agreement allows a seamless transition for students transferring from PJC into seven additional programs at Southeastern: Chemistry, Criminal Justice Major-Minor, Elementary Education, Hospitality Management, Recreation, Spanish, and Special Education.

Signing the agreement during a ceremony Tuesday were PJC president Dr. Pamela Anglin and Southeastern president Sean Burrage.

“Paris Junior College values our agreements with Southeastern and is proud to promote the transfer opportunity to our students,” said Dr. Anglin. “Today’s agreement provides additional articulated transfer opportunities for PJC students. It is good for our students and good for the region.”

“Paris Junior College and Southeastern Oklahoma State University are all about providing opportunities for students,’’ Burrage said.  “That is what this articulation agreement is all about. It provides the opportunity for more students to pursue their higher education goals. We are proud to be a part of that.’’

Southeastern has similar articulation agreements with 16 other junior/community colleges in Oklahoma and Texas.

With an enrollment of 4,000 students, Southeastern’s main campus is located in Durant, Oklahoma, with a branch campus in McCurtain County (Idabel, Oklahoma). Various programs are offered at seven other locations in Oklahoma and Texas.

The University, which offers 38 bachelor’s degree programs and 13 master’s degree programs, is nationally known for such fields of study as Aviation, Business, Elementary Education, and Occupational Safety & Health. For more information, visit

Paris Junior College serves over 5,000 students in northeast Texas in Lamar, Red River, Delta, Hunt and Hopkins counties and has provided quality education since 1924. PJC provides academic transfer and workforce training classes and programs. For more information, go to