Southeastern News

President Burrage, Chief Batton, John Carey named to Higher Education Task Force

President Burrage

Sean Burrage

DURANT, Okla. – Durant will be well represented on the Task Force on the Future of Higher Education that was recently formed by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE).

The 68-member task force, which was established at the State Regents’ March meeting, will conduct a systematic review of higher education in Oklahoma; examine existing initiatives and best practices; and report findings and recommendations on strategies that best support improving quality, access, affordability, and efficiency.

John Carey

John Carey

Representing the Durant area on the Task Force are Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean 
Burrage, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton, and former State Rep. John Carey. OSRHE chairman John Massey of Durant is an ex-officio member.

John Massey

John Massey

“I am honored to serve on this task force with Chief Batton, Rep. Carey and Regent Massey,’’ Burrage said. “I can’t think of three individuals who are more dedicated to serving Oklahomans as we all work together to face the challenges in higher education.’’

The Task Force includes regents, college and university presidents, citizens, and governmental designees.


Gary Batton

“Given the ongoing financial pressures on the state coupled with the imperative to raise attainment and graduation rates, the task force will examine ways to improve performance and optimize resources,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The central mission of the task force is to clearly position Oklahoma public higher education to meet the future challenges of maintaining accessibility and affordability without compromising quality. As such, the task force will focus on modernization, efficiencies and innovation. I appreciate the willingness of these individuals to dedicate their time, knowledge, and expertise to serve as task force members.”

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.

Murray State, Southeastern to share business officer through unique collaboration

WestmanDURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage and Murray State College president Joy McDaniel today announced a collaborative agreement that will allow the institutions they lead to share the services of Murray State’s Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance and Administration Dennis Westman.

The concept,developed by the two presidents in the spirit of cost-saving collaboration,allows Southeastern to fill the duties of its Vice President of Business Affairs position, which became vacant late last fall with the retirement of Ross Walkup.

Under the agreement, which takes effect March 1, Westman will remain an employee of Murray State, while also providing leadership and supervisory oversight for business affairs atSoutheastern.

“This agreement is an excellent example of campus presidents considering innovative solutions to meet operational needs in an exceptionally challenging budget environment,’’ said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “As a state system of higher education, we continue to work together at every level to maximize cost savings and provide the services required to help our students realize their educational aspirations.’’

“In the current climate, budgets and fiscal efficiency are paramount in the administrative decision-making process,’’ President McDaniel said. “As colleagues, President Burrage and I share a commitment to global solutions that are creative and mutually beneficial. This truly is collaboration at its best, and we hope to pave the way for similar agreements at other colleges and universities.’’

President Burrage agreed, saying, “we are very appreciative of the support and cooperation of President McDaniel in this venture. I really believe it will turn out to be a win-win situation for everyone involved.’’

Westman, who earned an Associates of AppliedScience in Business Management from Murray State, has been part of the administrative team there since 2011. His bachelor’s degree in management and his MBA were awarded by Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

“This is an exciting opportunity and I look forward to serving two of southeastern Oklahoma’s finest higher education institutions,” Westman said. “I have lived in Durant for many years and feel very comfortable joining President McDaniel and President Burrage in this role.’’

(cutline) Murray president Joy McDaniel, Dennis Westman, and Southeastern president Sean Burrage met recently to discuss the collaborative effort between the two schools.

Congressman Mullin visits Southeastern


DURANT, Okla. – U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, right, was on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University Monday, visiting with president Sean Burrage, left, and students, faculty, and staff. The congressman toured the Native American Center for Student Success, attended a reception, and then participated in a question-and-answer session with President Burrage and the campus community.

Official summons to President’s Office results in happy ending for Southeastern students

Luke Godsey and Sheridan Shewbirt are all smiles after visiting with James Dry, left, and Southeastern president Sean Burrage.

Luke Godsey and Sheridan Shewbirt are all smiles after visiting with James Dry, left, and Southeastern president Sean Burrage.

DURANT, Okla. – Most college students don’t exactly look forward to being summoned to the President’s Office. It no doubt brings back childhood memories of being sent to the Principal’s Office.

Sheridan Shewbirt and her fiancé Luke Godsey were definitely feeling that way Friday morning when they were asked to report to the office of Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage.

Sheridan, a junior from Collinsville, Texas, was relaxing at her residence Friday after an early morning class, when she received a phone call requesting her presence in the Administration Building. Meanwhile, Luke, who is a senior from Collinsville, was in a Communication class taking notes from assistant professor Randy Clark. Just as the class ended at 10:50, he, too, was notified that he needed to go to the President’s Conference Room, immediately.

There, waiting anxiously by herself was Sheridan, wondering what in the world was going on.

“Before Luke walked in, I had texted him and told him that I had been told to go to the President’s Office,’’ Sheridan said. “He texted back and said, ‘ What did you do?’ And I texted back, ‘Well, I don’t know. ‘ ‘’

About that time, Luke arrived in the conference room and Sheridan was “really nervous and shaking. I just couldn’t piece together what was going on, and I thought something was really wrong.’’

Shortly thereafter, President Burrage burst into the room and in a serious tone, said, “hey guys, there’s someone here who wants to ask you some questions.’’ With that, the room went quiet.

Entering the room next was James Dry, and the mood turned from somber to lighthearted relief.

“I felt 100 times better when I saw James’ face,’’ Sheridan admitted.

It seems that James and his wife Carie had met Sheridan and Luke by chance recently when seated next to them at a local restaurant. A friendly and casual conversation ensued between the two couples, with James and Carie noting that they were proud Southeastern graduates. Without their knowledge, James picked up the dinner check for Sheridan and Luke.

“When we first sat down at the restaurant, we noticed that one of them had on a Southeastern sweatshirt and we just struck up a conversation,’’ James said. “It was obvious that they were really good kids. They were proud of the fact that they are going to graduate from Southeastern, and you could just tell that they are great representatives of our University.’’

Ironically, just a week later, the two couples bumped into one another at another restaurant, with this time Sheridan and Luke picking up the check.

James and Carie were so impressed with the young couple that James decided to contact President Burrage and do something special; hence, the Friday morning summons to the Office of the President.

The happy ending to all of this Friday resulted in James (Guest Services Director at Choctaw Casino Resort) presenting the couple four front row tickets to see country singer Easton Corbin in concert at Choctaw. Included with the gift was a handwritten note with an inspirational quote by John Wooden.

“We just want to thank James and Carie for their kind generosity,’’ Sheridan said afterwards, breathing a deep sigh of relief. “It is so heartwarming to know that there are people like this in our community. It is really special.’’

To top it all off, President Burrage thanked Sheridan and Luke for being such wonderful student representatives of Southeastern in the community.