Southeastern News

Former Durant police chief Durward Cook hired at Southeastern

cookDURANT, Okla. – A familiar name in local law enforcement circles was recently named Chief of Police and Director of Emergency Management at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Durward Cook, who served as Chief of Police for the city of Durant for seven years, began his new duties at Southeastern on Monday.

Cook had 25 years of law enforcement experience with the Durant PD. Following his retirement as police chief in 2015, Cook served as Southeast Area Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. He recently resigned from that position to accept the job at Southeastern.

He holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice/homeland security from Northeastern State University. Cook has attended the FBI National Academy, holds a certificate of emergency management from Northeastern State, and is a C.L.E.E.T. (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) certified instructor.

Southeastern to honor Dr. Jerry Polson with Distinguished Former Faculty Award at homecoming

Jerry PolsonDURANT, Okla. – During a 45-year career as a faculty member, Dr. Jerry Polson wore many hats at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Polson, who retired in December 2013, will be honored with the Distinguished Former Faculty Award during Southeastern’s homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 6. The Alumni Association’s awards banquet will be held that evening at 5:30 in the Visual & Performing Arts Center.

Polson joined the Southeastern faculty in 1969, and over the years, served in such capacities as Professor of Physics, Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Computer and Physical Sciences, and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the School of Graduate & University Studies.

He also contributed to the University by his membership and involvement with the Curriculum Committee, NCA Steering Committee, Budget Committee, General Education Committee, Academic Council, Administrative Council, Distance Learning Council, as well as Chairman of the Faculty Senate and Faculty Athletics Representative.

He was also active in the community as a member of the Durant City Council.

Polson earned his Ph.D at Auburn University, his master’s at Stephen F. Austin State University, and his bachelor’s at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce).

A native of Sulphur Springs, Texas, Polson and his wife Judy have two sons, Jonathan and Benjamin, both Southeastern graduates. Judy briefly served as an adjunct professor in the English department at Southeastern.

With deep ties to the University, Jerry and Judy established  the Polson Family Scholarship through the Southeastern Foundation in 2016 in honor of their sons.

For a complete schedule of homecoming events, visit

District 17 school superintendents meet on campus


DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern president Sean Burrage welcomes educators to campus Tuesday morning as the University hosted the OASA District 17 Superintendents meeting. Latta Superintendent of Schools Cliff Johnson also welcomed the participants.

Sharon L. Morrison Collaborative Center dedicated at Southeastern library

Southeastern library director Sandra Thomas and University president Sean Burrage stand with Sharon Morrison stand outside the collaborative center.

Southeastern library director Sandra Thomas and University president Sean Burrage stand with Sharon Morrison stand outside the collaborative center.

DURANT, Okla. – The Sharon L. Morrison Collaborative Center was dedicated recently in the Henry G. Bennett Memorial Library at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The room, located on the second floor of the library, is multifunctional, and has been utilized as a mobile classroom, tutoring and study hall, and a seminar room.

After 15 years of service, Morrison retired from Southeastern in 2016 as library director/associate professor. During her tenure, the library saw many improvements, including the addition of the Albert H. Brigance Curriculum and Assessment Center, the Native American Commons, a Learning Commons, the Evert Tigner Shakespearean  Collection,  and computer pods.

Among those joining Morrison at a recent dedication ceremony were Southeastern president Sean Burrage, vice president for academic affairs Dr. Bryon Clark,  dean  of graduate school/E-programming & academic support Dr. Tim Boatmun, library director Sandra Thomas, and other library staff members.

Three Southeastern science students study in China

Southeastern students Erika Costain, front row, third from left, and Brianna Cole proudly display the Southeastern flag.

Southeastern students Erika Costain, front row, third from left, and Brianna Cole proudly display the Southeastern flag.

DURANT, Okla. – Three Southeastern Oklahoma State University students spent eight weeks this summer in Beijing, China, participating in international collaboration on research and academic exchanges between the Division of Biotechnology of Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis (BCPCA) and the Department of Biological Sciences of Southeastern.

Brianna Cole, a  sophomore from Melissa, Texas; Erika Costain, junior from Fort Worth, Texas; and Linsday Perez, junior from Cartwright, Oklahoma, represented Southeastern. Student sponsor Dr. Ning Wu, associate professor of biology, traveled with the students, who were under the supervision of faculty from both institutions.

The international event is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Oklahoma-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP.)

The eight weeks of research activities at BCPCA included:

Participation in “The Eleventh Cell Biology Commonly Used Techniques and Research Progress Workshop;” participation in “The Seventh Cell Culture and Cellular Molecular Biology Application Technology Workshop;” and participation in ongoing research projects.

Dr. Brad Ludrick, Southeastern professor of Biology and manager/coordinator of the OK-LSAMP program, and Dr. Wu served as co-principal investigators.

WindSync to perform at Musical Arts Series on Sept. 26

DURANT, Okla. –  WindSync, an award-winning Houston-based wind quintet, will perform as part of the Musical Arts Series on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Tuesday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.

Admission is free for all performances of the Musical Arts Series.

The WindSync performance is sponsored in part by Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, and a gift presented by Mary Kathryn Hodge in loving memory of Dr. Lee Ball and in honor of his wife, Kate.  Dr. Lee H. Ball was an inspirational professor with profound knowledge in the English Department and touched the lives of many students during his 1959-1991 service to Southeastern. The WindSync performance is dedicated in his memory for his love of music, as he played Horn, and in honor of his inspiration, Kate.

WindSync will be offering a public masterclass for wind students from the Department of Music at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, September 25, in the Fine Arts Building and will present a program to students in arts programs in the Silo ISD district on Tuesday, September 26.

WindSync builds highly thematic programs that feature landmark quintets, new works by American composers, and premiere arrangements of standard repertoire with the goal of increasing accessibility and cultural significance of wind chamber music. WindSync is recognized for dramatic, fully memorized concert presentations that often feature collaborators from the worlds of music, dance, and multimedia.

Additionally, WindSync takes a special interest in reaching children, families, and underserved audiences. Part of the burgeoning creative placemaking movement, the ensemble has recently focused on activating public spaces via music in Houston and in Opelousas, LA. They have been featured in educational concerts presented by the Seattle Symphony, Midland Symphony, and Orli Shaham’s “Baby Got Bach,” and their concerts for young people reach more than 5,000 students per year.
For more information about this event and or the desire to become a sponsor of the Music Arts Series, contact Dr. Jeremy Blackwood, MAS Coordinator at 580-745-2096.

Michele Campbell receives LOK Distinguished Leadership Award

Michele Campbell receives the 2017 Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Leadership Award from LOK board chair Brent Kisling.

Michele Campbell receives the 2017 Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Leadership Award from LOK board chair Brent Kisling.

DURANT, Okla. – Michele Campbell was the recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award presented at Leadership Oklahoma’s 2017 All Class Reunion event, held earlier this week at Shangri-La Resort.

Campbell is assistant state director of communications, research and organizational development with the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OKSBDC) at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. In this role, she is responsible for strategic partnerships with various entities across the State, advisory board and legislative liaison activities, marketing, branding, and media programs, and the organizational development activities for OKSBDC.



Leadership Oklahoma (LOK) is a statewide organization encompassing citizens from every region of the state ensuring a diverse group of leaders.  It has a membership of approximately 1,480 adult leaders from 168 communities bringing expertise in business, education, health, government, non-profit, finance, law, and utility sectors from across the state.
Campbell is a Leadership Oklahoma graduate (Class XXIII) and Lifetime LOK member.  Since graduation from the program, she has been very active with the LOK Board and various committee appointments, including the Executive Board, Board of Directors, Recruitment, Regional Ambassadors, Class Ambassador, Nominating, and Fall Forum.  She has also chaired the Selection and the Program Committees.

A Southeastern Oklahoma State University graduate, Campbell has served in various education roles at her alma mater, including counselor and later as Director of  the U.S. Department of Education (DOE)  TRIO programs for 17 years. Following her role with the TRIO programs, she was Continuing Education Director at Southeastern prior to moving to the Office of the President.

Campbell  spent five years as Executive Assistant to the President, coordinating strategic partnerships and collaborative opportunities with internal and external constituencies for the University.

She has attended numerous programs and leadership academies, including four Harvard programs, crisis leadership training, the Balridge Examiner National Standards program, Edward Lowe Foundation Business Leaders’ Roundtable, economic development courses, and most recently, was selected for the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy’s Leadership Academy.


She has been nominated several times for the Journal Record’s Woman of the Year and has been recognized as one of 50 Oklahoma Women Making a Difference in 2013, 2016 and 2017.  This year she will enter the Journal Record’s Circle of Excellence for Woman of the Year.

In June 2017, the Healdton High School graduate was selected by the Healdton Alumni Association for its Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Campbell has an Associate’s Degree from Murray State College and both her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Behavioral Science degrees from Southeastern. She is completing a Ph.D in history from Swansea University in Wales on the topic of the Modern Business History of the Chickasaw Nation.

Joy Culbreath, Mark Hughes, and Charles McCall, Sr., named Distinguished Alumni for 2017

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will recognize three Distinguished Alumni in conjunction with the Homecoming 2017 celebration.

Events will be held October 5-6-7.

The Distinguished Awards Banquet is scheduled for Friday, October 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Visual and Performing Arts Center. The banquet will recognize this

year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni, Distinguished Former Faculty and Benefactor awards.

This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumni award are Joy Culbreath, Mark Hughes, and Charles McCall, Sr.

Joy culbreath

Joy culbreath

Joy Culbreath is a name synonymous with education in the state of Oklahoma.

After 27 years working in TRIO programs and teaching in the Business Department, Culbreath retired from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Thus began her career with The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which continues to this day, where she is Director of Education Special Projects. Culbreath  also serves as chairman of Jones Academy Foundation, which supports a legacy school founded by the Choctaw Nation in 1891.

Before taking on her current position, Culbreath retired as Executive Director of Education for the Nation.

In 1993, she started building an adult education program as the department’s only employee. Under her guidance, the Education Department blossomed, as she oversaw 14 programs, including TRIO, Early Childhood, Adult and Scholarship programs. Today, those programs provide funding to thousands of young Choctaws.

In 1997, Culbreath began building a language program from scratch. No teaching materials were available and coursework and reference materials had to be developed for classroom use. Today, Choctaw Language is state-certified and taught in public schools and college campuses for credit.

Culbreath has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Chahta Foundation, Jones Academy Foundation and the Alumni Board and John Massey Business Board at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

She received her Bachelor’s in Business Education and Elementary Education (1975) and Master’s degrees in Behavioral Studies (Certified Professional Counselor) and Administration (1977) from Southeastern.

In 2002, Culbreath was recognized by the Oklahoma State Board of Regents as the first recipient of the “Champion for Student Success’’ award. In 2011, she was named to the prestigious Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame.

Culbreath’s three daughters, Stacy Shepherd, Paula Harp and Richelle Acker are also Southeastern graduates.

Shepherd earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is Executive Officer of Member Services at The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Harp also received her bachelor’s and master’s and is Senior Director-Education Department for the Choctaws. In addition, she is a Southeastern Alumni Association Board member. Acker completed her bachelor’s degree and is Associate Department Director of Admissions at Vanderbilt Law School.

Culbreath’s  most recent projects have involved publishing a manuscript by a local historian and a traditional Choctaw children’s book.    She currently serves on the board for the March of Dimes,  Kiamichi Technology Center, and Gov. Fallin’s Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness.


Mark Hughes -

Mark Hughes –

Mark Hughes is a retired college electronics instructor widely recognized as an authority on Civil War cemeteries.

He is the only author to publish books on both Union and Confederate cemeteries. His books include, “Bivouac of the Dead,” “The Unpublished Roll of Honor” and two volumes of “Confederate Cemeteries.”

Hughes’ latest book, “The New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages,” has been called a long-overdue update of a classic. He also wrote the “Introduction” and “Place Index” to the Roll of Honor series. “Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages” will be published in the fall of 2017.

In addition, he has written articles on a variety of subjects for a number of magazines.

In 1985, Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in Electronic Technology from Southeastern. He received a Master of Technology from Southeastern the following year. While in Durant, he was an engineer for the campus radio station and involved with the Baptist Student Union.

He has done graduate work in Industrial Education at Clemson University and graduate work in history at Southeastern.

Hughes was named Faculty Advisor of the Year – Society of Manufacturing Engineers at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1988 and nominated for Cleveland (North Carolina) Community College Excellence in Teaching Award five times.

In addition, Hughes taught at Orangeburg-Calhoun (South Carolina) Technical College, and Southeastern (adjunct in 1984-85).

Hughes, his wife Patty, and their daughter Anna Grace reside on the family farm in the Dixon Community near Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

Charles McCall,  Sr., is the owner of AmeriState Bank, an Oklahoma Banking corporation,  and the AtokaState Bancorporation.


After graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1967,  he began his career in banking and recently celebrated his 50th year of service to the Bank.


Charles McCall-

Charles McCall-

McCall  served many years as the bank’s President, Chief Executive Officer, and Board Chairman.

He is past president of the Atoka Chamber of Commerce, Atoka Rotary Club and Atoka Lions Club. Active in civic affairs, he served 16 years on the Atoka City Council and was the first chairman of the Atoka City Industrial Development Authority.

McCall is a 1962 graduate of Atoka High School, where he was a three-sport athlete and delegate to Boys State.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southeastern, and was a member of Lambda Psi Omega men’s fraternity. Following graduation, McCall served in the Oklahoma National Guard from 1967 to 1973.

He is currently active as a member of the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Alumni Board of Directors.

McCall and his late wife, Barbara Ann Clure, have two sons, Charles, Oklahoma Speaker of the House and CEO and Board Chairman of AmeriState Bank, and Clay McCall, AmeriState Bank president.

His hobbies include flying, antique cars and watching his six grandsons participate in school activities.

For a complete schedule of homecoming events, visit

Southeastern Chorale sets dinner/auction for September 30

DURANT, Okla. – The Southeastern Chorale, Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s premier choral ensemble, will host its annual dinner and silent auction on Saturday, September 30, on campus in the Hallie McKinney Ballroom.

Auction items include donated gift items from local businesses throughout the Texoma region, such as restaurant packages, personal services, hotel stays, artwork, and home décor items. The silent auction will begin on Friday, September 29 in the ballroom and culminate Saturday evening at the fundraiser dinner.  Patrons may leave bid sheets to continue bidding through Saturday.

The fundraising event, titled, “Pop Goes the World – the British Invasion,” will feature Southeastern Chorale members entertaining with the British popular music of the 1960s, 70s and early ‘80s.  The fundraiser will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Hallie McKinney Ballroom with hors d’oeuvres, followed by dinner at 7 p.m.  A dessert auction, led by Dell McLain, will be held throughout the meal.

Tickets are $30 and currently being sold by Chorale members.  Limited seating is still available.  If you would like to purchase tickets, please call 580-745-2222.

Fall enrollment at Southeastern increases 6%

Southeastern president Sean Burrage enjoys lunch on a frequent  basis with students in the Student Union cafe. The informal setting allows the Southeastern president an opportunity to hear directly from students. Here he visits with two transfer students from Dallas, Kendrell Willis and Witt Wortham. This fall, the University is experiencing  its highest enrollment in five years.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage enjoys lunch on a frequent basis with students in the Student Union cafe. The informal setting allows the Southeastern president an opportunity to hear directly from students. Here he visits with two transfer students from Dallas, Kendrell Willis and Witt Wortham. This fall, the University is experiencing its highest enrollment in five years.

DURANT, Okla. – Enrollment is up and so is the optimism around the Southeastern Oklahoma State University campus these days.

Prior to the beginning of fall classes on August 21, Southeastern president Sean Burrage had termed this as a “pivotal year at the University.’’ The fourth-year president added that he was “optimistic’’ as he evaluated both enrollment numbers and the financial condition of the institution.

And the results show that Burrage was on the mark: After three weeks of classes, Southeastern’s enrollment has increased significantly in both head count and student credit hour (SCH) production over last year.  (SCH is important as it plays a key role in the amount of state allocations Southeastern receives each fiscal year).

Southeastern’s official fall 2017 enrollment is 3,956 students – an increase of 6.2% over last fall.

This represents the largest overall enrollment at Southeastern since 2012.

The University has also seen in increase of 3.2% in student credit hours this fall.

Burrage pointed to the importance of the across-the-board gains the University is experiencing this semester in new freshmen, transfers, and graduate student enrollment. In particular, the graduate school enrollment is growing at an amazing rate, with an increase of 62% over last fall (MBA – 132% increase).

Increases of note over last fall include:

  • New Freshmen: Increase of 2.3%
  • Bryan County freshmen: 10.1%
  • Texas freshmen: 6.7%
  • Transfer students: 6.3%
  • Graduate student enrollment: 62%
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): 132%

“As the numbers indicate, we have enrolled more students from Bryan County and north Texas this fall,’’ Burrage said of the freshman class. “We believe this is the beginning of a positive trend as we continue to intensify our recruiting efforts across the region.’’

Burrage said that online degree programs are greatly impacting colleges and universities across the nation, especially at the graduate level.

“In today’s world of higher education, there is great demand for online learning opportunities,’’ he said. “In fact, the growth in our graduate school, while phenomenal, can be attributed, in large part, to our innovative online master’s degree programs in Business, Education, and Native American Leadership. Again, we expect this trend to continue as we explore the possibility of offering additional academic programs online.’’

Burrage added there is a reason the online programs have been successful at Southeastern.

“Our faculty members deserve a lot of credit,’’ he said. “They understand that the higher education model is changing and they are adapting. Even though the delivery format of instruction may be changing, the most important learning component remains the same — the professor.’’

These new online programs are complementing other traditional popular degrees in such areas as aviation, occupational safety & health, and the sciences, to name just a few.

And although he is pleased with the growth in enrollment, the Southeastern president is not satisfied.

“We still have a lot of work to do,’’ he said. “Our challenge now is to not only sustain this growth, but to build on it.  We have recently increased scholarship opportunities, but we must continue to do so in order for a college education to be affordable for all students. This is critical as we receive reduced funding from the state.’’

Approximately 85% of Southeastern students currently receive some form of financial aid; 53% of Southeastern graduates this year were first-generation college graduates.

On the financial side of things, Burrage is equally optimistic.

Thanks to a number of measures – including ongoing conservative operational spending — Southeastern’s financial condition is in its best shape in years, with a sizeable increase in reserve funds projected this year.

This is despite numerous state budget reductions to higher education over the last few years, including a 6.1% cut ($930,000) to Southeastern this fiscal year.

“All the state reductions have obviously had a negative impact on higher education in Oklahoma,’’ Burrage said. “But Southeastern has addressed these challenges over the past few years by making some tough decisions, such as consolidating/eliminating programs that didn’t directly impact students, cutting administrative costs, implementing furlough days, and reducing travel expenses.

“Our faculty and staff have made tremendous sacrifices as we’ve worked through these budgeting challenges together.  I can’t say enough good things about the support they have demonstrated during some very difficult times. Southeastern is successful and will continue to be successful because of their attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes. That’s what makes this such a special place.’’

Southeastern will submit its Preliminary Enrollment Report to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on September 8.