Southeastern News

Southeastern Homecoming to honor three Distinguished Alumni

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will honor three Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming activities on Oct. 11-12-13.

The Distinguished Awards Banquet recognizing Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Former Faculty recipients is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

This year’s Distinguished Alumni recipients are retired Marine Col. Tray Ardese, Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd, and Dr.  Barbara Rackley.

In addition to the banquet, they will be honored on Saturday during pre-game (1:40 p.m.) ceremonies of the Southeastern-Southern Arkansas football game. at Paul Laird Field.

Tray Ardese

Tray Ardese

A native of Krebs, Oklahoma, Col. Tray Ardese participated in track and football at Southeastern, serving as a team captain and earning all-conference honors in football. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1989. He later earned a master’s of strategic studies at the United States Army War College.

Among the individuals who influenced him at Southeastern were Dr. David Norris (history professor), Rade Radasinovich (geography professor), and Morris Sloan (football coach).

Ardese began a highly decorated military career in 1990 when he entered the Marine Corps.  During his time in the Corps, he was an FA-18D Weapons and Sensors Officer (WSO), a C-12 Pilot, a ground Forward Air Controller (FAC) and was a Battle Watch Captain in the U.S. Strategic Command as part of the U.S. nuclear forces.

During his years of flying he amassed more than 3,000 hours of flight time and 257 Combat missions in the air.   During his ground time, he completed three tours as a FAC and two combat deployments with Special Operations Forces (SOF), doing direct action missions as a forward air controller/fire support coordinator.             While on his first SOF deployment, he was wounded in an intense fire fight and received the Purple Heart.

During his military career, he served on missions in  Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.  His time in the military took him to more than 50 countries around the world.

In his final assignment prior to retirement, he commanded more than 3,000 people as CO of the Marine Air Group 41, the largest and most diverse group of its kind in the Corps.

He retired from military service in the fall of 2015.   Among his many military awards are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Metal with “V” for Valor in Combat, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Metal and Navy Commendation Metal with “V” for Valor in Combat.

Col Ardese (ret.) now serves as director of government and international affairs for Magpul Industries Corp. and director of Magpoul Core.

Ardese is also a Christian evangelist, and volunteers his time with Honored American Veterans Afield and Outdoor Network International, organizations that work with wounded veterans and children.

Ardese and his wife Tammi have five children, including son Ethan, who is a junior at Southeastern.


Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd

Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd

Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd currently serves as Professor of Molecular Genetics and the Beatrice and Miguel Elias Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

DeBose-Boyd was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and raised in the small rural southeastern Oklahoma community of Boswell, where he graduated from Boswell High School in 1989. Soon thereafter, he began undergraduate studies at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where he participated in the Minority Biomedical Research Support program.

DeBose-Boyd obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry with minors in Mathematics and Biology in 1993.  While at Southeastern, he cites chemistry professor Dr. John Wright as his major mentor, as he decided to pursue a career in biomedical research.

Among the other individuals he credits during his Southeastern years were chemistry professors Dr. Gordon Eggleton and Dr. Loide Wasmund, as well as senior students Dr. Tim Smith and Dr. Jimmy Ballard, who served as early role models in DeBose-Boyd’s career. In addition to his academic studies, DeBose-Boyd was involved with the Minority Biomedical Research support program and also enjoyed weightlifting and basketball in the Recreation Center.

Upon completion of undergraduate studies in 1993, DeBose-Boyd was accepted into the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. He successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis in 1998 under the tutelage of Dr. Richard D. Cummings (currently Professor of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School).  DeBose-Boyd’s thesis work was recognized by the inaugural Fred and Marie Gray Research Achievement Award.

Immediately following completion of his Ph. D. studies, DeBose-Boyd relocated to Dallas, Texas,  and became a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research in the laboratory of 1985 Nobel Laureates Drs. Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center.   After completion of postdoctoral studies in 2001, DeBose-Boyd became an Instructor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at UT Southwestern and embarked upon an independent career in biomedical research. Two years later, he was promoted to Assistant Professor, and in 2007, earned the rank of Associate Professor with tenure. He achieved full Professor status in 2013, and was named the Beatrice and Miguel Elias Distinguished Scholar in Biomedical  Science in 2016.

DeBose-Boyd has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including being named a Distinguished  Young Scholar in Medical Research by the W.M. Keck Foundation on 2006, as well as selection as an Early Career Scientist by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2009.  In 2010, DeBose-Boyd received the John J. Abel Award, a prestigious honor from the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics named for the founder of the Department of Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and several important scientific journals.

DeBose-Boyd and his wife Gwendolyn have two sons, Reginald and Ryan.






Dr. Barbara Rackley grew up in the small town of Kenefic, Oklahoma, and  her 47- year professional career in the areas of education and business development have led to many accomplishments. She cites her family as a source of motivation and instilling values and providing support.

After graduating from Bokchito High School in 1969, Rackley entered Southeastern State College.  She went on to Oklahoma State University to receive a bachelor’s degree in Vocational Home Economics. She returned to Southeastern to earn a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis on Home Economics in 1980. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Home Economics Education and Higher Education Administration from Oklahoma State University.

Since leaving Kenefic, Rackley has achieved success in four different careers: home economics teacher at Caddo High School (1973-1981); Southeastern Oklahoma State University Home Economics Department (1981-86, Associate Professor and Teacher Educator and Department Chair (1987-1994); Southeastern Career and Placement Services Director (1994-2001); and Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. (REI), Women’s Business Center Program Manager (2001-2018).

After 29 years in academia, Rackley retired, and in December 2001, she established the first Rural Women’s Business Center for REI. During her tenure, the Center covered the entire state and served more than 30,000 women entrepreneurs and small business owners. Earlier this year, she retired from that position, in which she had oversight in providing business, financial and technical assistance for women entrepreneurs wanting to start a business or grow an existing business.

Rackley gives Dr. Kathleen Meadows, former Southeastern Dean of Education & Behavioral Sciences and home economics professor, credit for her influence and support.

She has received a number of awards during her career, including the Small Business Administration (SBA) Women in Business Champion (WBC) of the Year award in 2004.  The WBC was the recipient of the SBA Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award in 2011, 2012, and 2016.

Rackley was also elected to the Board of Directors of the Association of Women’s Business Centers.  She has been President of the Oklahoma Home Economics Association, Oklahoma Council of Home Economics Administrators, Durant Fortnightly Club, Durant B&PW, and held other local, state and national organization leadership positions.

She has advocated on numerous occasions for the REI Business Women’s Center, Women’s Business Centers nationwide, and women business owners with Congressional leaders and participated in a round table with President George W. Bush.

In addition, Rackley has been an advocate for Southeastern students by  participating in many activities, attending events and most recently serving on the John Massey School of Business Advisory Council.

For more information and a complete list of homecoming activities, visit


University recruiters play key role in enrollment growth


DURANT, Okla. – One of the most important and often overlooked jobs at a university is that of the recruiter. For prospective students and parents, the recruiter is likely their first direct contact with a school.

And first impressions can mean everything, according to Jeremy Rowland, director of admissions and recruitment at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

“Our goal is to ensure that the first interaction with a prospective student and/or parent is a positive interaction,’’ Rowland said, “whether it be via email, phone call, or campus visit. Southeastern has a lot to offer students, and it’s our job to make them aware of the opportunities that are available.’’

Those efforts appear to be working, as the University announced recently that with 4,483 students, fall enrollment has reached its highest level in 40 years.  Records also indicate this ranks among the highest-ever enrollment totals documented in the 109-year history of the institution.

This fall’s enrollment total (Headcount) represents an increase of 13.3 percent over Fall 2017.

In addition, the freshman class of 600 is the largest in six years, with significant increases locally in Bryan County and Grayson County (Texas) freshmen.

Rowland’s five-person staff, whose office is located on campus in the Welcome Center, is responsible for recruiting new freshmen, transfer, adult, international, and returning students to the University through events both on and off campus, including college fairs and high school visits. The office then evaluates submitted applications using the provided documentation in accordance with University policies and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education guidelines.

As director, Rowland oversees all areas of recruitment and admissions for new freshmen, transfers, and concurrent students. He also plans and executes recruitment events. A Durant High School graduate, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeastern.

Other staff members in admissions and recruitment are:

  •  Tonya Tollett, Assistant Director of Admissions

Tollett supervises the admissions process, the International student population, the office’s student workers, and assists with recruitment events. She is a graduate of Rattan High School and Southeastern and has 19 years of experience at the University.

  • Sheridan Burns, High School Recruiter / Admissions Counselor
  • Sarah Hughes, High School Recruiter / Admissions Counselor

Both Burns and Hughes are at the forefront of the recruiting effort, visiting high schools, college fairs, and planning recruiting events on and off campus.

Burns is a graduate of Ardmore High School and Southeastern. She recruits in western Oklahoma and north Texas.

Hughes, a Colbert High School and Southeastern graduate, recruits in eastern Oklahoma and north Texas.

  • Alesha Birks, International Immigration Advisor

In her duties, Birks is responsible for International admission and recruitment, organizing and coordinating events, and providing general support/services for international students. She is a graduate of Marietta High School and Southeastern.

  •  Megan Cochran, Admissions Counselor & JRM (recruitment software) Coordinator

In her role, Cochran reviews files and processes applications, as well as overseeing the departmental budget. She is a graduate of Seminole High School and East Central University.

Among the recruiting events scheduled this fall are Transfer Day, October 2; SE Live! Open House for high school juniors and seniors, October 24; Texoma Area-Wide College Fair, Nov. 14; and STEM Visitation Day, December 1.

For more information about Southeastern and the admissions and recruitment services, go to


Southeastern professor named to editing position at School Law Reporter

DURANT, Okla. – Dr. R. Stewart Mayers was recently named administrative editor of the School Law Reporter, the flagship publication of the Education Law Association.

Mayers is professor/chair of the Department of Educational Instruction and Leadership at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The Reporter provides summaries of all court cases in both state and federal courts that involve education at any level. As administrative editor, Mayers will oversee a large group of education law professionals, including education law professors and attorneys from across the country, to ensure all cases are assigned to be summarized and submitted to the co-editors of the Reporter for layout and publication.

He joined the Southeastern faculty in 2001.

Three former professors to be honored at Homecoming

Ken Chinn

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will celebrate Homecoming 2018 on October 11-13.

As part of the activities, three retired professors – Dr. Kenneth Chinn, Dr. Jane Elder, and Dr. Kenneth Elder – will be honored with the Distinguished Former Faculty Award.

They will be recognized at the Distinguished Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m. in the Visual & Performing Arts Center. The three recipients combined for 103 years of teaching service at Southeastern.

Dr. Ken Chinn joined the Southeastern faculty in 1982 and retired 29 years later as Professor Emeritus of Economics.

In addition to his teaching duties (banking, finance and economics, as well as teaching Honors economics for 15 years), Chinn held several leadership roles on campus, including Faculty Senate President, 2009-2011; Chair, Department of Economics and Finance, 1993-2001; Chair, Department of Social Sciences, 2003-2010; Faculty sponsor of the Oklahoma Theta Chapter of Alpha Chi, 28 years; and President of Region II of Alpha Chi, 1994-96.

Chinn was also the recipient of a number of honors and awards during his tenure at Southeastern, including Faculty Senate Award for Outstanding Teaching, School of Business, 1993-94; Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Service, School of Business, 2000-2001; and elected member of Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society, 1994.

He is a long-time fan of Southeastern athletics, in particular, basketball.

Originally from Hotchkiss, Colorado, Chinn holds a doctorate of philosophy in economics and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University.

He and his wife, Kay, a Southeastern graduate, reside in Durant.

Ken Elder

The other two Distinguished Former Faculty Award recipients are husband and wife Ken and Jane Elder.

Dr. Jane Elder began her career at Southeastern in 1975 and retired 36 years later as Assistant Professor Emeritus of Sociology.

Jane Elder

A native of Wellington, Kansas, Elder graduated from Enid (Oklahoma) High School. She was involved on campus as a Faculty Senate Representative; Faculty Senate Planning Committee Chair; and as secretary of the General Education Council.

Elder was also active with the Wesley Foundation Advisory Board and First Christian Church.

She cites the mentoring of students as her greatest accomplishment at Southeastern.

Elder holds a doctorate in secondary and higher education from Texas A&M-Commerce and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Oklahoma State University.

She and her husband enjoy retirement by spending time with grandchildren.

Dr. Ken Elder also began teaching at Southeastern in 1975 and served for 38 years. He retired as Professor Emeritus of Sociology.

While at Southeastern, Elder served on the Honors Advisory Board and taught the Honors Introduction to Sociology course.

Elder served on or chaired 20-plus university committees, and was a member of the Faculty Senate for 15 years, three of which were as chair. He also was Kappa Sigma fraternity advisor.

Under Elder’s leadership as chair, the Faculty Senate worked through such issues as shared governance, faculty compensation, and community service.

He was the recipient of numerous awards, including Faculty Senate Lifetime Achievement Award; Faculty Senate Teaching Award; and Faculty Senate Service Award.

Elder was also active in the community, serving as program advisor for Bryan County Eldercare; as a member of the Bryan County Post-Adjudication Review Board; on the board of directors of the Caddo nursing home; one of the original organizers of the Oklahoma Sociological Association; and First Christian Church.

The Stillwater native holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of North Texas and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University.

The Elders reside in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

For more information and a complete list of homecoming activities, visit

Southeastern closed Monday, September 3, for Labor Day

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will be closed Monday, September 3, in observance of Labor Day.

All classes will resume and offices re-open on Tuesday, September 4.

Southeastern fall enrollment reaches highest level in 40 years with 4,483 students

Southeastern president Sean Burrage offers remarks at a recent Faculty-Staff meeting.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage offers remarks at a recent Faculty-Staff meeting.


DURANT, Okla. – In July, Southeastern Oklahoma State University announced it would not be increasing tuition costs for the first time since 2009-2010. This was certainly good news for students and their parents, as of the 25 public colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Southeastern was one of only six to hold the line on tuition.

And the news keeps getting better.

University officials announced today that with 4,483 students, fall enrollment has reached its highest level in 40 years, according to reports.  Records also indicate this ranks among the highest-ever enrollment totals documented in the 109-year history of the institution.

This fall’s enrollment total (Headcount) represents an increase of 13.3 percent over Fall 2017.

Significant enrollment increases occurred this fall at both the graduate and freshman level.

“As an institution, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the past four years and our faculty and staff have been unwavering in their support,’’ said Southeastern fifth-year president Sean Burrage. “To meet the challenges of reduced state funding and declining enrollment, we’ve had to think outside the box.

“As the higher education model changes, we are adjusting to meet the needs of our students.  For example, there is great demand today for online learning opportunities. Students are looking for flexibility as they balance their academic schedules with work and various family responsibilities. As a result, in addition to traditional face-to-face classroom instruction, we are also offering a number of academic programs completely online, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, and at a competitive cost.  These online programs are playing a significant role in our overall enrollment growth.’’

The University began expanding its online programs in Fall 2016. And because many of the programs are completely online, students do not have to live within commuting distance of Durant, thereby broadening the recruiting base.

Significant increases in enrollment were seen in the Master of Business Administration, Master of Education in School Counseling, Master of Educational Leadership, Master of Education in Special Education, and Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

Burrage noted that enrollment numbers are also up at the freshman level, including significant increases in Bryan County and north Texas, which is more cause for optimism.

The freshmen enrollment increases over last fall are as follows:

  • Freshman students:  13.0% (600 students — largest class in six years)
  • Bryan County freshmen: 28.7%
  • Grayson County (Texas) freshmen: 26.7%
With 600 students, Southeastern is welcoming its largest freshman class in six years.

With 600 students, Southeastern is welcoming its largest freshman class in six years.

“We are intensifying our recruiting efforts to attract more students from our immediate service area,’’ he said, “and we’re beginning to see some results, which is very encouraging.’’

Approximately 85 percent of Southeastern students receive financial aid, and more than 50 percent annually are first-generation college graduates.

“We believe we offer quality academic programs that are both affordable and accessible to students,’’ Burrage. “This message appears to be well-received by our prospective students. As a University, we want to continue build on this growth, while not sacrificing quality.’’

Homecoming activities scheduled for Oct. 11-12-13

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will celebrate Homecoming 2018 on October 11-13.

The traditional Homecoming parade is set for Thursday October 11, at 6:30 p.m.  in downtown Durant.  That evening’s event will kick off the Homecoming festivities; following the parade there will be food trucks and a live band at Market Square presented by Durant Main Street for all Southeastern alumni and friends and the Durant community. This will be the second year in a row that Southeastern and Durant High School will hold a parade together.

Other traditional activities include the 32nd annual Whang Bang Alumni Golf Tournament on Friday, October 12, at Chickasaw Pointe.  Registration opens at 8 a.m. and a shotgun start is scheduled for 9 a.m.

The Distinguished Awards Banquet recognizing Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Former Faculty is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

This year’s Distinguished Alumni recipients are retired Marine Col. Tray Ardese, Dr. Russell DeBose-Boyd, and Dr.  Barbara Rackley.

This year’s Distinguished Former Faculty award honorees are Dr. Kenneth Chinn, Dr. Jane Elder, and Dr. Ken Elder.

On Saturday, October 13, the Alumni Tailgate Party opens at 11 a.m. in Tailgate Alley across from Paul Laird Field.

Also on Saturday at 11 a.m., a 30th anniversary reunion of the 1988 Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference championship football team will take place on the lawn of Bloomer Sullivan Gymnasium.

Southeastern’s Savage Storm will kick off at 2 p.m. against Southern Arkansas University in the Homecoming football game at Paul Laird Field. During pre-game ceremonies on the field at 1:40 p.m., the Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Former Faculty Award recipients will be introduced.

 For more information and a complete list of homecoming activities, visit

Southeastern begins fall classes on Monday

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will begin fall classes on Monday with officials projecting a continued upward trend in enrollment.

A number of events are scheduled this week in preparation for Monday, including a general Faculty-Staff meeting with president Sean Burrage; a Faculty Symposium; New Faculty orientation; Freshman Convocation; and orientation sessions for students.

James Dry, a member of The Choctaw Nation Tribal Council, addresses students at Wednesday’s Camp Chahta, an orientation program for Choctaw freshmen at Southeastern.

James Dry, a member of The Choctaw Nation Tribal Council, addresses students at Wednesday’s Camp Chahta, an orientation program for Choctaw freshmen at Southeastern.

President Sean Burrage offers remarks at the Faculty-Staff meeting Thursday.

President Sean Burrage offers remarks at the Faculty-Staff meeting Thursday.

Southeastern-McCurtain County instructor’s book hits USA Today best-seller list

DURANT, Okla. – You might say Kelly Stone Gamble is one of those people who practices what she preaches. Or in this case, teaches.

Since 2014, the Baxter Springs, Kansas, native has taught Introduction to Literature and Business and Professional Speaking at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University branch campus in Idabel.

And she writes a little, too.

In fact, just last week, her book, They Call Me Crazy, appeared on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list.  Each week, USA Today collects sales data from booksellers representing a variety of outlets: bookstore chains, independent bookstores, mass merchandisers and online retailers. Using that data, the publication determines the week’ 150 top-selling titles.

They Call Me Crazy checked in at #123 on the list.

First released in November 2014 by Red Adept Publishing, the book is set in fictional Deacon, Kansas, and follows the lives of Cass Adams and her no-good husband, Roland. The book has been categorized as women’s detective fiction and women’s crime fiction, and is the first in the Cass Adams series, which includes Call Me Daddy, published in October 2016.

On the other hand, Gamble describes her books as “Southern Gothic – a little dark, and funny.’’ She notes that her students like the fact that she is a published author, and that “some of them are my biggest fans.’’

And although the book’s characters may be from rural southeastern Kansas, the author says she’s amazed how popular They Call Me Crazy is in various countries overseas.

As far as her personal reading tastes, Gamble says she prefers historical fiction and biography.

Gamble holds a B.A. in Integrated Studies of History and Business from Nevada State College, an M.A. in Humanities from California State University, and an M.F.A in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

She is a full-time faculty member at McCurtain County.

Fall classes begin Aug. 20 at Southeastern

DURANT, Okla. – Fall classes will begin on Monday, Aug, 20, at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

In preparation for the beginning of the semester, a number of events are scheduled:

  • 15 – Faculty Symposium
  • 16 – Faculty/Staff meeting and luncheon
  • 17 – New Faculty Orientation
  • 18 – Freshman Convocation