Southeastern News

Southeastern president, area public school officials share ideas with informal meetings

Durant Superintendent of Schools Duane Merideth, center, and Executive Director of Schools Mike Dills, left, met recently with Southeastern president Sean Burrage. In conjunction with his Public Schools Outreach Initiative, Burrage is inviting area school administrators to campus and also visiting school districts to discuss common goals and to exchange ideas to better serve students.

Durant Superintendent of Schools Duane Merideth, center, and Executive Director of Schools Mike Dills, left, met recently with Southeastern president Sean Burrage. In conjunction with his Public Schools Outreach Initiative, Burrage is inviting area school administrators to campus and also visiting school districts to discuss common goals and to exchange ideas to better serve students.

DURANT, Okla. – Since beginning his duties as president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University in July 2014, Sean Burrage has learned that higher education and common education have a great deal in common. There are differences, of course, but the public schools (K-12) and colleges and universities are facing many of the same challenges – including the reality of doing more with less financial resources.

“The bottom line is we both have the same goals – that is, helping students achieve their educational goals and ultimately become productive citizens,’’ Burrage said. “As a university president, I think it is important for me to get to know our area school superintendents so that we can work together for the benefit of students. I need to know what theirneeds are, and I, in turn, need to make them aware of the opportunities andresources we have to offer at the University. We believe we are making a huge impact on the lives of students  at Southeastern – for example, more than 50 percent of our spring graduates this year were first-generation college graduates. That speaks volumes as to the important role the University plays not only in the present, but in the future as well.’’

In an effort to enhance the relationship between common education and higher education, the Southeastern president has established the Public Schools Outreach Initiative.

Each month, as part of this new initiative, Burrage invites an area school superintendent and a guest of their choice to the Southeastern campus for an informal lunch meeting. Other University administrators are made available as well, with academic affairs vice president Bryon Clark in attendance to address questions. Afterward, a campus tour is provided.

“We’ve only been doing this for a couple of months, but I am really pleased with the dialogue that has been established,’’ Burrage said. “It is a very informal setting and there is no pre-set agenda. I want the superintendents to feel comfortable to discuss any issues they believe to be important. At the same time, it provides me with an insight and perspective that I might not otherwise have. The one question I always ask of the superintendents is ‘what can Southeastern do to better serve students?’ ‘’

The lunch meetings have already led to a number of collaborative ideas between the public schools and Southeastern.

“My door is always open to ideas,’’ Burrage said.

The Southeastern president recently expanded the Public Schools Outreach Initiative by making on-site visits to several area school districts. He has met with a group of McCurtain County educators, as well as superintendents in Grayson County (north Texas).

“We are very fortunate to have so many outstanding school administrators and teachers in southern Oklahoma and north Texas,’’ Burrage said. “And we take great pride in knowing that many of these individuals are Southeastern alumni.’’

Justin Ryan Pittman Scholarship established

Justin Ryan Pittman

DURANT, Okla. – The Justin Ryan Pittman Gift Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established Nov. 3 at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. His portrait will be placed in Southeastern’s Scholarship Gallery.

Pittman graduated from Pottsboro (Texas) High School and was a senior at Southeastern at the time of his death in an automobile accident on June, 13, 2009. He was posthumously awarded his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the December 2009 commencement.

Pittman grew up in Pottsboro and attended Texas Tech University before transferring to Southeastern. He loved his family and friends and never met a stranger. He was always willing to help someone in need and always had a big smile on his face.

He loved hunting, fishing and hanging out with his many friends. His favorite place was the campsite at the Pittman farm.

The Justin Pittman Memorial Golf Tournament was organized in 2010 to raise funds for a memorial scholarship that was started at Southeastern Oklahoma State University to honor his legacy.

Scholarships will be given each spring to a junior or senior from Grayson County, preferably Pottsboro, majoring in Management or Marketing.

The Justin Ryan Pittman Gift Memorial Endowed Scholarship may also be awarded to high school seniors graduating from Pottsboro High School.

Academic achievement, extracurricular activities and financial need will be considered in the selection.

Students may apply for Southeastern scholarships online before March 1 at http://www.se.edu . Tax-deductible gifts to the Pittman Gift Scholarship may be made to the Southeastern Foundation by phoning 580-745-2442 or online at http://www.se.edu