Southeastern News

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 celebrates “Destination Homecoming’’

DURANT, Okla. – Sunny, unseasonably warm weather greeted all who attended “Destination Homecoming’’ at Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Friday and Saturday.

At its Friday night awards banquet, held in the Visual & Performing Arts Center, the Southeastern Alumni Association formally honored 2014 Distinguished Alumni Dr. Jesse Arnold, Ms. Josephine Wildcat Bigler and Dr. David Whitlock, as well as Distinguished

Former Faculty Dr. Pat Dunham, Dr. Phil Dunham and Dr. Robert Oliver. Southeastern president Sean Burrage introduced the honorees.

Special guest was Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, the 16th president of Southeastern.

Following the banquet, a True Blue bonfire pep rally was held on campus.

Earlier in the day, Mike Metheny’s team captured first place honors in the 28th annual Whang Bang alumni golf tournament, played at Chickasaw Pointe. Team members included Metheny, Paul Postier, Norm Clayborn, Jack Park, and Casey Clayborn.

The traditional homecoming parade was held in downtown Durant on Saturday morning.

Later, at Paul Laird Field, the Southeastern Savage Storm routed Northwestern, 45-7.

Kailea Marshall of Howe, Texas, was crowned Homecoming Queen, while Ryan Blakemore of Healdton was crowned Homecoming King during halftime ceremonies.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage, far left, poses with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni and Former Faculty Award recipients. Left to right, are Dr. David Whitlock, Dr. Jesse Arnold, Josephine Wildcat Bigler, Dr. Robert Oliver, Dr. Pat Dunham, and Dr. Phil Dunham.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage, far left, poses with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni and Former Faculty Award recipients. Left to right, are Dr. David Whitlock, Dr. Jesse Arnold, Josephine Wildcat Bigler, Dr. Robert Oliver, Dr. Pat Dunham, and Dr. Phil Dunham.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage congratulates Homecoming Queen Kailea Marshall and King Ryan Blakemore during halftime festivities.

Southeastern president Sean Burrage congratulates Homecoming Queen Kailea Marshall and King Ryan Blakemore during halftime festivities.

The traditional Homecoming parade was held Saturday morning in downtown Durant.

The traditional Homecoming parade was held Saturday morning in downtown Durant.

Southeastern wide receiver Layton Dworaczyk (1) picks up good yardage in the Savage Storm’s 45-7 homecoming victory over Northwestern.

Southeastern wide receiver Layton Dworaczyk (1) picks up good yardage in the Savage Storm’s 45-7 homecoming victory over Northwestern.

Southeastern to honor three Distinguished Alumni

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will honor three Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming activities Oct. 24-25.

The Distinguished Awards Banquet will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, in the Visual & Performing Arts Center.

This year’s honorees are Dr. Jesse Arnold, Josephine Wildcat Bigler, and Dr. David Whitlock.

Jesse ArnoldDr. Jesse Arnold (‘60) is a Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech University. He served as department head for the Department of Statistics at Virginia Tech from

1973-1982, with his career spanning 34 years at the university.

The Wichita Falls, Texas, native earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics at Southeastern. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in mathematical statistics from Florida State University.

Arnold is an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute and a Fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA). He is Past President of the International Biometric Society, Eastern North American Region, and Past Chair of the ASA Section on Statistical Education.

Arnold has published numerous technical papers in leading statistical journals and directed the research of 14 Ph.D. students at Virginia Tech. He is co-author of a widely used statistics textbook for engineers and computer scientists. In 1984, the Department of Statistics established the annually-awarded Jesse C. Arnold Graduate Student Teaching Award.

BiglerJosephine Wildcat Bigler (’45) is a full blood Euchee Indian, enrolled with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the first in her family to earn a college degree. She may be the first Euchee woman to earn a four-year degree.

Born near Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Bigler taught elementary school in Sapulpa and special education in Wisconsin.

Bigler  served as a Special Education teacher when it was a relatively new field. A Euchee linguist and true expert on the language, she and three other elders are co-writing the first Dictionary of Euchee.

Euchee is a language isolate with no other language in the world similar or related.

Her ability to recall older forms no longer actively used, plus explaining how women’s speech varies from men’s speech, makes her extremely vital in the effort to save the language.

Bigler was elected Chairwoman of the Milwaukee Indian Health Board and served as a representative to the Milwaukee Southeastern Malpractice Compensation Committee.

In addition to earning her education degree at Southeastern, she received special education training at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.

WhitlockMug_Sept10[1]Dr. David Whitlock (’84, ’85) has served as Oklahoma Baptist University’s 15th president since 2008.

The Purcell, Oklahoma, native earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in business administration at Southeastern. He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Oklahoma in 1995.

Whitlock began his professional career at Southeastern, where he taught for 14 years. He joined the Southeastern faculty in 1985 as an instructor of business, was promoted to assistant professor in 1991 and associate professor in 1996. While at Southeastern, he directed the university’s Small Business Institute from 1990-97, working with small business development in the Durant area.

He was named chair of the University’s business information management program in 1995, and served in that role until moving to Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.

AT SBU, Whitlock served in various capacities, including associate provost, dean of the college of business and computer science, as a professor of business, dean of SBU’s adult and off-campus programs, and assistant to the president.

In addition to his academic work, Whitlock has served in a bi-vocational role as co-pastor of Wellspring Baptist Fellowship in Bolivar. He previously served as bi-vocational pastor of Silo Baptist Church and Hendrix Baptist Church. He was licensed to preach by the First Baptist Church of Durant in 1993.