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