Dr. Larry Acker named Director of University Marketing

Larry[1]DURANT, Okla. – Dr. Larry Acker will bring 20 years of experience to the newly-created position of Director of University Marketing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He begins his new duties on Aug. 3 after spending the past nine years as assistant director of public relations at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

“As the University continues to grow, it is imperative that we have a strong marketing presence,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “Larry Acker has a solid background in higher education marketing, and I believe that he can be a key in coordinating our marketing efforts. He will work very closely with departments all across campus – academics, communications, admissions, recruitment, alumni, and development, among others, to ensure that we have a clear and consistent message and that our brand is visible across the region.’’

The Greenville, Texas, native has extensive experience in public relations, marketing, licensing and branding. In addition to his time at Lamar, Acker was director of public relations and communication at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, for four years. Prior to that, he was director of public relations and marketing at Langston University (Oklahoma).

He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar, master of education degree from Langston, and bachelor’s degree in public relations/journalism from Texas A&M-Commerce.

           “Lori (wife) and I are very excited about moving back to Oklahoma,” Acker said. “I am anxious to meet the faculty and staff at Southeastern to learn how I can assist in marketing all the unique facets of the University.”

At Lamar, his duties included marketing, communications and public relations projects, budget and staff management, as well as coordinating the university’s licensing and branding program.

The Ackers have been very involved in community activities, such as the Humane Society of Southeast Texas, the Young Men’s Business League and the Jefferson County Chapter of Go Texan.

Organizationally, the new marketing director will be positioned in the unit of University Advancement, which also includes alumni relations, development, special events, career management, continuing education, and admissions/recruitment.

Overseeing the unit is Kyle Stafford, Vice President of University Advancement.

 

Southeastern president sees bright future; Stafford named Vice President of University Advancement

DURANT, Okla. – After being on the job for just over a year now, Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage has had the opportunity to evaluate the overall operations of the school. And although he likes what he sees, he is realistic about the challenges facing higher education today.

“All of us (in higher education) are seeking ways to offset decreases in state funding, while maintaining quality and affordability,’’ Burrage said. “We’re looking to increase our private fundraising, enhance our grants and partnership efforts, and grow our enrollment. As for academics, we have to continue to be flexible and innovative by developing programs that meet the changing needs of our students and the job market.  For example, over the past year, we have added the Master of Science In Native American Leadership, which has 91 students currently enrolled.  And other successful new programs have been developed in recent years in Aviation Sciences, Occupational Safety & Health, Business and Education. ‘’

Burrage added that ultimately, the most rewarding part of his job is seeing students walk across the stage to formally receive their degrees.

“At our spring commencement this year, 41 percent of the graduates were first-generation college graduates (first in their family to earn a college degree).  I think that makes a powerful statement as to the impact Southeastern is having on lives, and I’m proud to be a small part of that.

“I am very excited about the future of this University,’’ Burrage continued.  “The potential for growth is unlimited. We’re in a people business, and Southeastern is very fortunate to have dedicated faculty and staff members who work hard every day to ensure our students have every opportunity to be successful. As we move forward, we are making a few organizational and personnel changes that I believe will serve to strengthen our overall performance.’’

Kyle Stafford

Kyle Stafford

Among the changes recently announced is the appointment of Kyle Stafford as Vice President of University Advancement.

Stafford’s responsibilities will include oversight of alumni relations, development, special events, marketing, career management, continuing education and admissions/recruitment.  He also serves as an ex-officio member of the Southeastern Foundation.

Stafford has 16 years of experience with the University, and began his higher education career in the office of admissions and recruitment. He later took the position of Dean of Enrollment Management; since 2008, he has served as Executive Director of University Advancement.

A lifelong Oklahoman, Stafford graduated from Madill High School and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southeastern.  Stafford holds teaching certificates in math and physical education and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in higher education leadership.

He was a member of the inaugural class of Leadership Durant and is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XXIII.  He has completed the Summer Institute in Educational Fundraising at Dartmouth and the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard.

Stafford and his wife, Kim, a teacher at Westward Elementary School in Colbert, are the parents of two daughters. Their oldest daughter, Miranda, graduated from Southeastern in May, and Emma attends Colbert Junior High.

Alan Burton

Alan Burton

President Burrage also announced that Alan Burton will serve as Special Assistant to the President/Director of University Communications. In his expanded role, Burton will act as an advisor, while assisting the President in media relations, crisis communications, and in advancing University priorities.

He has 30 years of experience in communications/public relations in Texas and Oklahoma.

Burton joined Southeastern in 1999 as Assistant Director of Public Information and has served the past 12 years as Director of Public Information/University Communications. He is a member of the Communicators Council of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, and has completed extensive crisis communications training through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

From 1988-99, he was Public Information Officer/Community Relations Officer for the Sherman  (Texas) Independent School District. Burton is also a former Sherman Democrat sports editor.

His writing has earned awards from the Associated Press, the Texas School Public Relations Association, and the Oklahoma College Public Relations Association. Burton has authored five Texana-related books on such topics as sports, music and celebrities.

A Sherman native, he is a graduate of Grayson College and Texas Tech University.

He and his wife, Michelle, a counselor at Sherman High School, are the parents of a daughter, Katelin, who is a graduate student at Sam Houston State University.

Liz McCraw

Liz McCraw

Also serving in a new role as Dean of Student Life is Liz Cobb McCraw.  Her specific duties include coordinating Title IV compliance and the President’s Leadership Class. Also under her oversight are Financial Aid, Registrar, International Student Services, Housing and Residence Life, Student Activities and Cheerleaders-Mascot.

A 25-year employee of the University, McCraw previously served as Dean of Students and Dean of Enrollment Management. In those roles, she developed, coordinated and administered programs of comprehensive student services, including Student Life, Residence Life, Admissions and Recruitment, Financial Aid, Academic Advising and Outreach Center, the Native American Center for Student Success, Student Conduct, Freshman Program, Registrar, Veteran’s Services and the International Student Services Office.

She has also been the primary advisor for the President’s Leadership Class.

In addition, McCraw contributed to the design and planning of the Glen D. Johnson Student Union and Shearer Hall and Suites.

She has participated in the Institute for Educational Management and Institution for Management and Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a graduate of the Educator’s Leadership Academy for Administrators.

Originally from Ardmore, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southeastern.

McCraw and her husband, Dr. Shannon McCraw, a Communication professor at Southeastern, have a daughter, Catie, a freshman at Durant High School.

Local optometrist offers tips to future teachers at Southeastern

Dr. Jason Rhynes makes a presentation to students at  Southeastern Wednesday.

Dr. Jason Rhynes makes a presentation to students at Southeastern Wednesday.

DURANT, Okla. – Research shows that 1 out of every 4 children has a vision problem that affects their ability to achieve.

This and other pertinent information was presented by a local optometrist to future educators Wednesday morning at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Jason Rhynes, a Durant native, discussed “Vision in the Classroom’’ during his engaging hour-long presentation, followed by questions-and-answers. His discussion touched on such topics as eye conditions and symptoms  that a teacher may observe in a child that may  be hindering learning and performance in the classroom.

“Many times, a (young) child may not be able to see up close, but doesn’t realize anything is wrong,’’ Rhynes said.  “The educator’s role is to recognize (potential problems) and refer (to appropriate person).’’

He added that it is recommended that a child have a professional eye examination at age 3.

His power-point program was well received by students in Dr. Susan Morrison’s “Teaching Reading in the Elementary School II’’ class.

“Partnering with community professionals strengthens the Elementary Education program at Southeastern,’’ Dr. Morrison said. “Since 2004, Dr. Rhynes has educated pre-service teachers about vision in the classroom — an important, but often ignored, aspect of the reading process. I believe this is an important first step in helping elementary students with vision-related issues that impact reading proficiency and learning in general.’’

Southeastern sophomore lends voice to historical presidential visit

Elissa Hamil sings the national anthem prior to President Obama’s speech. (Photo courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

Elissa Hamil sings the national anthem prior to President Obama’s speech.
(Photo courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

DURANT, Okla. –Elissa Hamil doesn’t follow the start-at-the-bottom-and-work-your-way-up format.

The 19-year-old Southeastern Oklahoma State University sophomore was selected to sing the national anthem when president Barack Obama spoke at Durant High School on July 15. The President was in Durant to announce the establishment of ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government working to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Southeastern, and Durant Public Schools will be among the groups partnering on the project.

Hamil, who is Choctaw, was asked to send a video to the White House and she was chosen through a competitive process. While she sang at home, her father used his cellphone to tape it.

She says she wasn’t nervous at the Presidential event, even though it was the first time she had performed the Star-Spangled Banner, at least publicly. Elissa learned the words to the anthem in kindergarten and has been in a choir since the sixth grade.

“I wouldn’t sing it in high school,” Elissa said. “There was too much pressure, singing in front of your peers.”

Peers, no – President of the United States – no problem.

Hamil said she was a little nervous while behind the stage, but everything went well when it was her turn in the spotlight.

“I learned that prayer goes a long way,” Hamil said. “When I went out to sing, I just sort of blacked out. I believe God took over and helped me through the

performance.”

She didn’t see the president prior to singing, since she was behind the stage and he went from a helicopter to the stage.

Hamil was an honors graduate at Durant High, where she was an All-District singer for four years.

She is now a member of Southeastern’s University Singers.

The biology major plans to become an optometrist and her studies require most of her time. She received the Southeastern Alumni Scholarship and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Higher Education Scholarship.

Elissa credits her parents – Kevin and Jamie — family and friends for supporting her throughout her DHS career and now her Southeastern career.

Southeastern professor teaching summer school class in Beijing

Dr. Jon Reid lectures to his class at Renmin University in Beijing.

Dr. Jon Reid lectures to his class at Renmin University in Beijing.

DURANT, Okla. – For the second summer in a row, Southeastern Oklahoma State University professor Jon Reid is spending his summer abroad doing what he does best – teaching.

The psychology and counseling professor is among 100 faculty members from around the world teaching at Renmin University International Summer School in Beijing.

Dr. Reid’s class is composed of 40 undergraduate students, most of whom are Chinese. The course is taught in English, with a Chinese doctoral psychology student serving as Reid’s teaching assistant.

He has also been was also invited to give a lecture to mental health professionals on “Grief Intervention After Traumatic Loss.”

“Teaching in an international summer school in Beijing has been a remarkable experience, not only the experience of teaching a psychology course to Chinese students, but also interacting with faculty from all over the world,’’ Reid said. “It has been a learning experience for me on both fronts. I appreciate the flexibility shown to me with my summer schedule by my department chair Dr. (Ed) Mauzey and Executive Dean (Lucretia) Scoufos. I also appreciate the support from the Presidential Partners to allow me to market Southeastern programs while in China.’’

Reid joined the Southeastern faculty in 1993.

Camp SE

Camp SEDURANT, Okla. – A group of new students recently completed Camp SE at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. The orientation provides students with the opportunity to meet other incoming students transitioning into the college environment, while learning more about the University. The next Camp SE session is scheduled for July 26-27. For more information, visit http://www.se.edu/campse/

President Obama announces technology initiative; Southeastern, Choctaws, Durant Schools involved

president

President Obama greets guests at Durant High School Wednesday.

DURANT, Okla. – It was an historic occasion Wednesday in Durant as President Obama announced the establishment of ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country.

The president spoke to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and other invited guests at Durant High School. It marked the first time a sitting president had visited Durant since 1905 when Theodore Roosevelt made a whistle stop tour here.

President Obama outlined the need for ConnectHome during his remarks on “Expanding Economic Opportunity for Communities Across the Country.’’

According to a White House press release, as part of the initiative, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.

The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years.  ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.

Specifically, ConnectHome is:

Building regional partnerships:  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite who worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build local partnerships and gather commitments that will increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans.  These partnerships will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to students living in public and assisted housing across America. Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC, to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities.

  • Twenty-eight communities strong: The President and HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced today that HUD has selected the following twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to participate in ConnectHome:

Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.

HUD selected these communities through a competitive process that took into account local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities; presence of place-based programs; and other factors to ensure all are well-positioned to deliver on ConnectHome.

  • In select communities of Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work together to ensure that over 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed internet.
  • Best Buy will offer HUD residents in select ConnectHome demonstration project cities, including Choctaw Tribal Nation, the computer training and technical support needed to maximize the academic and economic impact of broadband access.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide digital literacy training for HUD residents in ConnectHome communities that have a Boys & Girls Club, including in Durant, OK, part of Choctaw Tribal Nation.
  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.

ConnectHome is launching in Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and includes Camden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio – all of which were designated Promise Zones, where the Administration works in partnership with local leaders in high-poverty communities to achieve their educational and economic goals.

To view the full White House release, visit

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/15/fact-sheet-connecthome-coming-together-ensure-digital-opportunity-all

Southeastern, Choctaw Nation, Durant Schools to be involved in President’s new ConnectHome initiative

DURANT, Okla. – President Obama will travel to Durant, Oklahoma, today to announce ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. He will making comments at Durant High School later today.

As part of the initiative, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.

The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years.  ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.

Specifically, ConnectHome is:

Building regional partnerships:  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite who worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build local partnerships and gather commitments that will increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans.  These partnerships will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to students living in public and assisted housing across America. Mayors from Boston to Durham, and from Washington, DC to Seattle, have committed to reallocate local funds, leverage local programming, and use regulatory tools to support this initiative and the expansion of broadband access in low-income communities.

  • Twenty-eight communities strong: The President and HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced today that HUD has selected the following twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to participate in ConnectHome:

Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.

HUD selected these communities through a competitive process that took into account local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities; presence of place-based programs; and other factors to ensure all are well-positioned to deliver on ConnectHome.

  • In select communities of Choctaw Tribal Nation, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work together to ensure that over 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed internet.
  • Best Buy will offer HUD residents in select ConnectHome demonstration project cities, including Choctaw Tribal Nation, the computer training and technical support needed to maximize the academic and economic impact of broadband access.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide digital literacy training for HUD residents in ConnectHome communities that have a Boys & Girls Club, including in Durant, OK, part of Choctaw Tribal Nation.
  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District will provide digital literacy courses, for free, to HUD residents in Choctaw Tribal Nation.

ConnectHome is launching in Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and includes Camden, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Antonio – all of which were designated Promise Zones, where the Administration works in partnership with local leaders in high-poverty communities to achieve their educational and economic goals.

To view the full White House release, visit

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/15/fact-sheet-connecthome-coming-together-ensure-digital-opportunity-all

Chris Wesberry named Executive Director of the Native American Institute

Chris WesberryDURANT, Okla. – Chris Wesberry was recently named Executive Director of the newly-formed Native American Institute at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The Institute will include the Master of Science in Native American Leadership, the minor in Native American Studies, Choctaw language minor and the Native American Center for Student Success.  The academic programs will be hosted by the Department of Behavioral Sciences, which will provide faculty oversight of curriculum and all related activities.

The Institute will also include the formalization of an advisory council with tribal participation.

“Southeastern has been recognized nationally for its Native American programs and Chris has obviously played a big role in that,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “Under his leadership, the Institute will serve to coordinate all of our efforts in this area. We also hope to grow and expand our Native American programs in the future and the Institute is a key component.’’

Wesberry has been employed at Southeastern since October of 2005. He has served as an Academic Advisor to Native American students, the Director for the Native American Center for Student Success, and Co-Director of the Master of Science in Native American Leadership (MSNAL).

In these positions, he has served the Native American community in areas of academic advising, instructor, grant writer/principal investigator, and project director for federal grants in excess of $4 million. These grants have consistently focused on Native American student retention and teacher development.

He has also taught several courses at the University.

Wesberry earned a Bachelor of Science, Master in Secondary Education, and Master in School Counseling at East Central University. He is currently in the dissertation phase of a Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership.

He has 10 years of experience working for the Chickasaw Nation, seven of which were in Higher Education programming. Wesberry and his wife Stacy (2013 graduate of Southeastern) have a daughter and son, both of whom graduated from Southeastern. Caley Wesberry (’13) also graduated from Michigan State University with a Master Degree in Public Health, while Leslie Wesberry (’13) will be in his third year of law school at the University of Oklahoma this coming May.

Southeastern professor awarded Business Strategy Certificate from Cornell University

Bressler 2012DURANT, Okla. – Dr. Martin Bressler, John Massey Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship in the John Massey School of Business at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, recently completed a graduate certificate program in business strategy through Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

The certificate, titled, Business Strategy: Achieving Competitive Advantage, is offered through the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell and includes coursework in strategic positioning, managing supply chains, mergers and acquisitions, game theory, strategic and tactical pricing and competitive advantage and profitability.

Bressler teaches business strategy in addition to entrepreneurship courses in the John Massey School of Business. Several years ago he was awarded the Master Professor designation in business strategy from Irwin McGraw-Hill publishing company. He joined the faculty at Southeastern in 2010 and was named Professor of the Year in 2013.