Southeastern News

Rep. Billy speaks at Native American graduation/reception

Rep. Billy speaks at Native American graduation/reception

DURANT, Okla. – Former Oklahoma Representative Lisa Billy was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s Native American Graduation Ceremony and Reception at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Also offering remarks at the event were Native American Institute executive director Dr. Bruce King, left, and Southeastern president Sean Burrage. President Burrage presented her a flute on behalf of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

OBU recognizes Dr. Mary Ann Craige with Alumni Achievement Award

(Dr. Mary Ann Craige, a name synonymous with music education, was recently honored by Oklahoma Baptist University with its Alumni Achievement Award. Earlier this year, Dr. Craige retired from Southeastern Oklahoma State University after a highly-distinguished 50-year career as Professor of Music. The article below, originally published in the OBU Magazine, is reprinted with permission and courtesy of OBU).


An Example Worth Following 


OBU president David Whitlock presents the Alumni Achievement Award to Dr. Mary Ann Craige.

OBU president David Whitlock presents the Alumni Achievement Award to Dr. Mary Ann Craige.

Colleagues of Dr. Mary Ann Craige, ’62, say she is a consummate music educator whose attention to music excellence, professionalism and sweet demeanor make her a role model for all educators.

A professor of music at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Craige credits her personal and professional success to a God-given passion for music and a deep desire to serve the Lord with her musical gifts.

“Music has always been a major part of my life,” Craige explained. “I just did it. It’s where I felt comfortable. It’s where I belonged. Piano, choir, church music, from a very early age, I did it all. Then, when I was fourteen, I sensed God’s call on my life to serve Him, not necessarily vocationally, but in the area of church music, so I surrendered.”

Encouraged by the enthusiastic support of her family and opportunities for service provided by her home church, First Baptist Church of Durant, she wasted no time and began pursuing that call immediately.

“I started playing in church when I was just 14,” she said. “Piano, organ, whatever was needed. I directed children’s choirs. I even served as interim music minister for a while. Whatever there was to do in the church related to music, I did it because I loved music and I loved the church.”

When the time came for Craige to go away to college, choosing a school was easy.

“I chose OBU for the positive Christian atmosphere,” she explained. “Having been raised in a Christian home and in the local church, I felt like it was the natural next step to take.”

Craige’s undergraduate experience at OBU far surpassed her expectations.

“It was wonderful! I just loved it. I got a fabulous education, and the staff was so supportive. They made us feel comfortable and safe.”

Although she found the entire OBU faculty to be “very sweet and helpful,” a handful of those individuals made a particularly profound impression on her.

“Dean Warren Angell was such a talented individual,” she said. “He influenced all of us by example. He could play the organ, piano, sing, direct, compose. It was amazing! It made all of us want to try harder, and even though he was so talented, he made himself available and took the time to help those of us who were just learning.”

“Dr. Strickland was a fantastic Bible teacher,” she continued. “Her knowledge was extensive, but the way she presented it was even more impressive. I don’t know how she did it, but she made the Bible come alive for us. She made it funny, if you can imagine that! It’s hard to explain, but she was a true gift to those of us who were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from her.”

“Then Dr. John Wesley Raley, well, he was just a wonderful man!” she said. “He knew, loved, and spoke to everyone on campus, and his wife Helen was just as warm and kind. She had a photographic memory and would give herself six weeks each year to memorize every freshman’s name. Once she knew your name, she never forgot it or where you lived. I remember that she and Dr. Raley both came to my senior recital. They did that kind of thing for everybody. They truly cared.”

Following her graduation from OBU, Craige earned both a Master of Music and Ph.D. in College Teaching and Piano Performance from University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Even as she furthered her education, she continued to serve in the local church, playing piano and organ at First Baptist Church of Denton during her time away from home.

In 1966, she accepted an offer to teach at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where she recently celebrated 50 years of service to her students. It was at Southeastern that she met her husband Danny, who was a dentist, 30-year Navy veteran, pilot and flight instructor. The couple became active members of Craige’s home church, First Baptist Church of Durant, and she resumed her position as church organist, one she still holds 40 years later.

A gifted teacher and mentor, Dr. Craige has had a profound influence on the lives of the Southeastern students with whom she has worked. Many of her students have gone on to pursue and obtain graduate degrees in music and/or perform nationally and internationally for known music artists and teachers on a regular basis. She is thankful for OBU professors who taught her, by example, how to invest in the next generation.

“I’ve tried to care for my students the way that my professors at OBU cared for me,” Craige said. “I make sure that they get what they need when and how they need it so they can succeed.”

Craige’s investment in her professional community has been significant as well, and her accomplishments have been many. A member of Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity, she served as both chair of the Music Teachers’ National Association composition contest and district chair of the Oklahoma Federation of Music Clubs composition contest for 35 years. In 2014, she was presented with the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2016, the university named her Professor Emeritus of Music.

In 1968, she was asked to put together a show choir for Southeastern. Under her leadership, the Chorvettes were chosen for a month-long USO tour to the Caribbean and selected as the featured collegiate show choir at the Music Festival in Sydney, Australia. They performed at four international Kiwanis conventions and made four international trips, including an exciting two-week trip to France, Belgium and Holland. In 1992, the governor proclaimed the Chorvettes “the Official Goodwill Ambassadors of the State of Oklahoma.”

“Although music is my passion and teaching is my delight, I think that having a part in broadening the educational experiences of the Chorvettes lingers with me as my greatest accomplishment,” she said. “Home stays, visits to international universities and meetings with government officials gave these students a new understanding of cultures. What they learned in history and humanities classes actually came to life for them.”

Inspired by her husband, Craige recently obtained her private pilot’s license and has plans to pursue more certificates in the field of aviation, including her commercial license and training in instruments. She is excited about the opportunities for volunteerism that her continued learning could provide. “I want to see how much further I can go!”

Craige is equally optimistic about the future of her alma mater and the students that currently attend.

“I’ve known David Whitlock for a long time, and I believe he is an OBU president equal to the one that I had,” she said. “It’ll be exciting to see what happens under his leadership. Sometimes, I look online and see all of the special traditions they observe on campus now. Chapel, candlelight vigils, fellowships, it’s all wonderful. OBU students shared a bond and felt a kinship back in my day without all of these things. I can only imagine the community that is being built among students now that they exist. It’s an exciting time to be a Bison!”

Southeastern professor to present program at Johnston County Library

Glenn MelanconDURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University professor Glenn Melancon will serve as scholar for the final “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” series at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 6, at the Johnston County Library in Tishomingo.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr wll be discussed at themeeting, which is free and open to the public. The New York Times bestseller features a blind French girl and German boy whose paths cross in occupied France as both try to survive World War II.

Dr. Melancon earned his Ph.D. in European History from Louisiana State University. He is the author of Britain’s China Policy and the Opium Crisis: Balancing Drugs, Violence and National Honour, 1833-1840.

The Johnston County Library is a branch of the Southern Oklahoma Library System (SOLS), formerly known as the Chickasaw Regional (Public) Library System.

For more information, call the Johnston County Library at 580-371-3006 or visit at 116 W. Main in Tishomingo.

John Massey School of Business students perform well in business simulation competition

Southeastern president Sean Burrage, left, and Dr. Martin Bressler, right, congratulate the student team of Carl Immanuel-Gerlitz, Stacie Schneider, and Mariah Mayes.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage, left, and Dr. Martin Bressler, right, congratulate the student team of Carl Immanuel-Gerlitz, Stacie Schneider, and Mariah Mayes.

DURANT, Okla. – All business majors in the John Massey School of Business at Southeastern Oklahoma State University participate in the Capstone business simulation.

The Capstone simulation challenges students to draw on their acquired knowledge in management, marketing, accounting, and finance to create and execute a strategy in a competitive and dynamic environment.

In Dr. Martin Bressler’s Business Policy capstone course at Southeastern, the student team of Carl Immanuel-Gerlitz, Mariah Mayes, and Stacie Schneider not only scored higher than the other teams in their course, they scored in the top 10% worldwide (2,919 teams).

JMSB students compete against teams from Penn State, Cal State, the University of Illinois, Florida State, and Brigham Young University.

Gerlitz is a Finance major from Germany; Mayes is majoring in General Business and is from Leon, Oklahoma; and Schneider, also a general Business major, is from Madill.

Stacie Schneider, Carl Immanuel-Gerlitz, and Mariah Mayes make a presentation in class Wednesday.

Stacie Schneider, Carl Immanuel-Gerlitz, and Mariah Mayes make a presentation in class Wednesday.

“The Capstone simulation enabled my students to gain hands-on, practical, real-time learning in a setting like none other for our fast-paced business courses,’’ said Bressler, who serves as the John Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship.

Capstone® business simulation’s interactive platform provides students with the opportunity to test assumptions and learn from mistakes so they are better prepared to step confidently into their business career. Through Capstone, students apply what they’ve learned across all disciplines of business in one strategic, competitive, engaging learning experience.

Success in business begins with strategy and managers make decisions every day on finance, operations, marketing and more. The strategy simulation provides students the experience of running a business in a competitive marketplace — without the real-world risk — along with the opportunity to practice the financial, intellectual, and human skills required for successful business management.

Southeastern president, area public school superintendents share ideas

Southeastern president, area public school superintendents share ideas

DURANT, Okla. – As part of his Public Schools Outreach Initiative, Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage, left, has been meeting with area school superintendents throughout the year.  On Tuesday, Burrage hosted Jon Tuck of Madill, Kevin Duncan of Tishomingo, Ron Whipkey of Kingston, and Gerald Parks, of Calera. The meetings allow the educators to share ideas, while strengthening the relationship between common education and higher education.

Candlelighting, treelighting among holiday activities scheduled for December 5

DURANT, Okla. Southeastern Oklahoma State University will present the 95th annual Candlelighting ceremony on Monday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Montgomery Auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public.

The longest continuing tradition on campus, Candlelighting is a festive concert anchored by the Southeastern Symphonic Choir conducted by Dr. Joshua Nannestad. The choir will be joined by the SHARE Children’s Chorus, conducted by Dr. Jeri

Walker, collaborativepianist Dr. Kate Stubbs, organist Dr. Stewart Mayers, and a brass quartet.

Members of the Cardinal Key Honor Society will light the candles and the audience will have an opportunity to participate in singing carols.

This year’s program is built around a collection of English and American Christmas carols, as well as the Christmas Cantata by American composer Daniel Pinkham. The cantata is accompanied by brass quartet and organ, which is available  for the occasion thanks to a grant from the Southeastern Cultural and Scholastic Lectureship Committee.

Also that evening, the University will also offer Santa and Entertainment from 6-6:30 p.m. at the Magnolia House, featuring the Chorvettes Stageworks Company and Dell McLain’s reading of the Christmas Story. A tree-lighting ceremony will be held at 6:35 p.m. on the front lawn of campus with the Southeastern Brass Ensemble performing.

Alpha Chi inducts 34 students at Southeastern

Thirty-four Southeastern Oklahoma State University students were recently inducted into Alpha Chi.

Thirty-four Southeastern Oklahoma State University students were recently inducted into Alpha Chi.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Theta chapter of Alpha Chi national honor society has inducted 34 students into lifetime membership.

An induction ceremony was held recently in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. Participating in the event were chapter sponsors Dr. Jennifer Hicks, Dr. Brett Elliott, Dr. Martin Bressler, Dr. Meg Cotter-Lynch Dr. L. David Norris (former sponsor), and McKenzi Boehme  (President Elect of Oklahoma Theta Chapter of AX).

           Southeastern president Sean Burrage delivered congratulatory remarks.

Alpha Chi, a national college scholarship honor society, was founded in 1922 and has more than 400,000 members from more than 300 college and university chapters in 45 states and Puerto Rico.

The society provides tens of thousands of dollars annually in scholarships and fellowships for members and alumni.

Members of Alpha Chi, identified and elected by the faculties of their schools as ranking in the top 10 percent of juniors and seniors, represent the best undergraduate scholarship in all academic fields at their institutions.

The inductees, from Oklahoma unless otherwise noted, are listed below:

Nicholas Gauthier, Durant; Jessica Daniel, Coleman; Sydney Spurlock, Antlers; Brittney Owens, Vernon, Texas; Delaney Archer, Bells, Texas; Pamela Chavez, Durant; Kristi Harjo, Hugo; Noah Patton, Calera; Payton Gentry, Antlers; Rachel Childers, Calera; Keith Sackett, Calera; April Clinton, Durant; Samantha Faudree, Coalgate; Mario Giamporcaro, St. Paul, Texas; Cheyenne Sisk, Bonham, Texas; Courtney Jackson, Ringling;  Jared Robinson, Cartwright; LaRonda Sogoba, Sherman, Texas; Rachel Grider, Durant; Kelsi Winchester, Marietta; Chelsey Peevyhouse, Atoka; and Shannon Wyrick, Sherman, Texas;

Also, Shawn Young, Caddo; Chastity Baken, Coleman; Bobby Long, Idabel; Kyle Buck, Broken Bow; Vivianne Wesley, Durant; Elizabeth Landers, Durant; Jenna Toland, Denison, Texas; Zachary Couch, Caddo; Keelan Gentis, Durant; Hayley Myers, Wilburton; Sarah Foreman, Ivanhoe, Texas; and Adele Lawrence, Broken Bow.

Hazmat training held for graduate students at Southeastern

Hazmat training held for graduate students at SoutheasternDURANT, Okla. – Some two dozen Southeastern Oklahoma State University students in the Master of Science in Occupational Safety & Health program came to the Durant main campus last  weekend for their annual HAZMAT lab training.  Southeastern professors Dr. Chris Bradshaw and Dr. Hal Poovey led the students through various HAZMAT scenarios in preparation for the 40-Hour HAZWOPER certification.  The students were from throughout the United States.

UNT athletics director, Southeastern graduate Wren Baker to offer commencement remarks

wren-bakerDURANT, Okla. One of the brightest young athletics administrators in the country will address graduates as Southeastern Oklahoma State University holds Fall Commencement exercises on Saturday, December 10.

Wren Baker is 2001 graduate of Southeastern, and since July 29, 2016, has served as Vice President and Director of Athletics at the University of North Texas in Denton. His background also includes service at the University of Missouri, University of Memphis, Oklahoma State University, Rogers State University, and Valliant Public Schools. He has served in such capacities as athletics director, basketball coach, and school principal.

Two commencement ceremonies will be held in Bloomer Sullivan Arena as follows:


10 a.m.

School of Arts & Sciences

Master of Technology

Master of Science (Safety)

Master of Music Education

2 p.m.

School of Education & Behavioral Sciences

John Massey School of Business

Master of Business Administration

Master of Science (Aerospace Administration and Logistics)

Master of Arts (Clinical Mental Health Counseling)

Master of Education

Master of Arts (Teaching)

Master of Science (Sports Studies and Athletic Administration)

Master of Science (Native American Leadership)

“We couldn’t be happier than to have Wren return to campus as our commencement speaker,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “He has an outstanding reputation across the nation for his work in intercollegiate athletics administration. We look forward to hearing his story during commencement, a story that I think will be inspiring not only to our graduates, but to their families and  guests, as well as Southeastern faculty and staff.’’

A native of Valliant, Oklahoma, the 37-year-old Baker earned his bachelor’s degree (Education) at Southeastern, and also holds a master’s degree (Education leadership) from Oklahoma State University.

He was influential in the turnaround and development of athletics programs at Memphis and Missouri before coming to Denton. Baker was hired as the Deputy Director of Athletics at Missouri in 2015 after serving in a similar role at Memphis from 2013-15.

At Oklahoma State, Baker was operations assistant for the Cowboys’ men’s basketball program under legendary coach Eddie Sutton.

After graduating from college, he became principal and athletic director for Valliant Public Schools and, at age 26, was the youngest principal in Oklahoma. 

      Baker was the first athletic director at Rogers State (2006-11) in Claremore, Okla., where he was also the first men’s basketball coach in school history. His team went 20-11 in its first season, after which Baker relinquished his coaching duties to concentrate on his administrative duties.

From 2011-13, he was athletic director at Northwest Missouri State.

Baker and his wife Heather have two daughters, Addisyn and Reagan.

Southeastern closed Nov. 23-24-25 for Thanksgiving

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will be closed November 23-24-25 in observance of Thanksgiving. Normal business at the University will resume on Monday, November 28.