Southeastern News

Pianist Christopher Atzinger to perform at Musical Arts event on March 6

DURANT, Okla. – Pianist Christopher Atzinger will perform as part of the Musical Arts Series on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Tuesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m.  in the Fine Arts Recital Hall. Atzinger will perform works of Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, John Knowles Paine, and Samuel Barber.

Atzinger is widely celebrated for his insightful performances and has earned a  reputation for excellence. He has performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, highlighted by recital performances at Carnegie Hall (New York), Salle Cortot (Paris), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), National Concert Hall (Dublin), American Academy (Rome), Liszt Museum (Budapest), Barocco Cultural Arts (Valletta), the Smithsonian Gallery of American Art and Phillips Collection (Washington), and the Dame Myra Hess Series (Chicago).

His discography includes three highly praised albums released on the MSR Classics label – a debut solo recording of Bach, Beethoven, Barber and Fritze; and all-Brahms album; and “American Lyricism” featuring works by Christopher Theofanidis, Richard Danielpour, Monica Houghton, Pierre Jalbert, and Justin Merritt. He has also recorded works of Judith Lang Zaimont for Naxos and music of Amy Beach for Centaur Records.

Atzinger earned degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at St. Olaf College.

This performance is sponsored in part by Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the Ruth Steger Piano Institute and the Clark & Wanda Bass Foundation Lectureship. Admission is free for all performances of the Musical Arts Series.  For more information about this event, contact Dr. Jeremy Blackwood, MAS Coordinator at 580.745.2096 or <>.

Hazmat training held for graduate students at Southeastern

Hazmat training held for graduate students at SoutheasternDURANT, Okla. – Some two dozen Southeastern Oklahoma State University students in the Master of Science in Occupational Safety & Health program came to the Durant main campus last  weekend for their annual HAZMAT lab training.  Southeastern professors Dr. Chris Bradshaw and Dr. Hal Poovey led the students through various HAZMAT scenarios in preparation for the 40-Hour HAZWOPER certification.  The students were from throughout the United States.

AAUP Candidates’ Forum to be held at Southeastern

DURANT, Okla. – The Southeastern Oklahoma State University Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is hosting a Candidates’ Forum on campus Thursday, September 8,, from 3-4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.

District 21 incumbent State Representative Dustin Roberts and challenger David Northcutt will discuss their candidacy and the issues facing the citizens of Bryan County and Oklahoma.

The forum is open to Southeastern’s faculty, staff and students and the  voters of Bryan County are especially welcome and invited to attend.

The AAUP is a 100-year-old non-partisan professional association of university faculty with chapters across the United States.

Kyle Thomas again named Master Certified Flight Instructor

Kyle Thomas is one of only 14 Oklahoma aviation educators to hold the Master CFI title.

Kyle Thomas is one of only 14 Oklahoma aviation educators to hold the Master CFI title.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University aviation professor and chief flight instructor Kyle Thomas is one of only 14 Oklahoma aviation educators to earn a prestigious accreditation.

His recent accreditation as a Master CFI (certified flight instructor) was renewed by Master Instructors LLC, the international accrediting authority for the Master Instructor designation as well as the FFA-approved “Master Instructor Continuing Education Program.”

Thomas first earned this national professional accreditation in 2006, has held it continuously since then, and is one of only 31 individuals worldwide to earn the credential six times.

To put his achievements into perspective, there are approximately 101,000 CFIs in the United States. Fewer than 800 aviation educators worldwide have received one or more of the Master accreditations thus far.

Thomas  also serves as advisor to the local Women in Aviation chapter and is a coach for the University’s flight team.

Former FAA administrator Marion Blakey said, “The Master Instructor accreditation singles out the best that the right seat has to offer.”

Late artist Minnie M. Baker to be honored with Southeastern Heritage Award at Homecoming

Minnie BakerDURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will honor the late Minnie M. Baker with the Heritage Award during Homecoming festivities on Oct. 2.

The recognition will be a part of the Distinguished Awards Banquet on Friday, Oct. 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Visual and Performing Arts Center. Also honored will be Distinguished Alumni, Distinguished Former Faculty, and Regent John Massey (Lifetime Achievement Award).

The Heritage Award honors individuals who have impacted the history of Southeastern in some unique way.

Minnie M. Baker (’36) was a renowned artist and educator whose contributions to the state of Oklahoma and the field of American art are immeasurable. She taught for 31 years at Southeastern State College, where she was chair of the Art Department and Associate Professor Emeritus of Art.

Her work included portraits of Oklahoma governors, military generals and congressional representatives. Baker’s works are displayed in honored places throughout the United States. The Ardmore native received her bachelor’s degree fromSoutheastern and a master’s from Iowa State University.

Baker continued her graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma and also completed course work at prestigious art schools in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and Mexico.

In 2013, the Minnie Baker Art Show was held in the Centre Gallery at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Baker passed away in 1983. Her niece, Alice Ann Baker Dailey, will accept the award.

For a complete schedule of homecoming events, go to

Southeastern professor elected president of Social Science organization

Glenn MelanconDURANT, Okla. – Glenn Melancon, Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, has been elected to serve as president of the Southwestern Social Science Association (SSSA).

SSSA is the largest and oldest interdisciplinary social science organization in the United States.

Melancon, a long-time SSSA member and former vice president of the organization, has 20 years of experience in the field of social science and education.

“Our theme for this coming year is Social Sciences and Public Conversations,” Melancon said. “SSSA members have a wealth of scholarship on a broad range of public concerns. We hope to put that research to good use for our communities.”

Melancon’s presidency will last until spring of next year, when he will preside over the SSSA’s annual meeting. It will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is expected to draw social scientists from across the country to present and discuss their research.

The SSSA was founded in 1919 to promote, cultivate and correlate the various areas of the social sciences and their applications. The association serves as the umbrella organization for seven academic and professional affiliate associations in the fields of economics, history, international studies, political science, social work, sociology, and women’s and gender studies.

Melancon is a Professor of Modern European History.   He joined Southeastern in 1995 after earning a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He is the author of Britain’s China Policy and the Opium Crisis: Balancing Drugs, Violence and National Honour,1833-1840 (2003).

Melancon is also involved in community work through scouting and with his church.

Dr. Steven Hales named director of new International Student Services office

Steven HalesDURANT, Okla. – Dr. Steven Hales has lived, studied and/or taught in six countries outside the United States.

Now he brings his extensive background in education to Southeastern Oklahoma State University as the director of the school’s new International Student Services office, which is part of the Enrollment Management division. Hales’ office is located in the Glen D. Johnson Student Union.

“The opportunity to start a program was very appealing to me,’’ said Hales, who served most recently as director of the English Language Center at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. “We will be working with international students in all phases – this includes recruiting, adjusting to campus, supporting them through their time here, and even post-graduate.’’

Hales says international students typically face several challenges when studying in the United States, including cultural and social differences, academic expectations, academic writing, and language.

But, according to Hales, the number one factor in retention of the students is friendship with American students.

“It’s really important to give these students a sense of connection to and ownership of Southeastern,’’ he said. “When the students, campus, and community all work together, everyone benefits. It’s a tremendous learning opportunity.’’

Hales, with input from campus, intends to develop a comprehensive international student retention plan. This will include on-and off-campus programming.

With regard to recruitment, Hales will begin his work by assessing Southeastern’s academic offerings and matching those with the interests and needs of international students. Currently, business, computer science and music are three areas of great interest for the students.

“I think Southeastern has a lot to offer international students,’’ Hales said. “It’s a institution that first and foremost supports its students. And being located in a small and safe community is very important to the students and their parents.’’

Hales holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum Studies, Teacher Development and Comparative, International & Development Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Ontario. His master’s is in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey (Ca.) Institute of International Studies, and his bachelor’s is in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University.

His other experience in International Education administration includes stints as Director of Studies for the English First China language center in Shanghai, and as International Programs Coordinator at Mississippi University for Women.

Hales also has extensive teaching experience at the university level, and he has resided in Spain, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, China, and Canada.


Department of Music receives re-accreditation

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Department of Music have recently been re-accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).  Founded in 1924, NASM is the oldest arts accrediting agency in the United States.

Southeastern has held this accreditation since 1978, with the most recent cycle of re-accreditation completed in summer of 2014.  This places the university in accredited status until the 2023-2024 academic year.

The re-accreditation brings with it the renewed approval of the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree, the Bachelor of Music in Performance degree, and the Bachelor of Music Education degree.  The Music Education degree was given approval to implement a new guitar emphasis as a specified option.  Additionally, NASM is also in agreement with the planned new offering of the Master of Music Education degree currently being explored.

The institution and music unit received very favorable comments in the areas of curriculum innovation and development, quality of instruction, faculty/student interaction, administrative support for upgrading facilities and addressing faculty concerns, and community outreach.

For more information about the Department of Music go to:

Southeastern’s accreditation status continued by Higher Learning Commission

DURANT, Okla. – The start of fall classes may still be several days away (Aug. 18), but the academic year is already off to a great start at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The University recently received official notification from the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission – A Commission of the North Central Association – that Southeastern’s accredited status has been continued with the next Reaffirmation of Accreditation in 2023-24.

“This continued accreditation reflects the dedication and commitment of the Southeastern faculty, staff, and administration,’’ said Southeastern president Sean Burrage. “I appreciate all of the effort that went into this process over the past three years.’’

In its final team report, the HLC determined the following:

  • Southeastern Oklahoma State University has met all criteria and core components
  • No follow-up action (focus visits, monitoring or progress reports) is necessary

Regional accreditation validates the quality of an institution as a whole and evaluates multiple aspects of an institution ranging from its academic offerings, planning, governance, administration, mission, finances, and resources.

The HLC is a regional accreditation agency that accredits more than 1,000-degree granting institutions of higher education that are based in the 19-state region of the United States. Institutions that the Commission accredits are evaluated against the Commission’s criteria for accreditation, a set of standards that institutions must meet to receive and maintain accredited status.  The Commission’s criteria for accreditation reflect a set of guiding values.

A six-member HLC evaluation team was on the Southeastern campus February 24-26, 2014, for a comprehensive visit for continued accreditation. Prior to that, Southeastern submitted a self-study report to the team for review. The report may be accessed by the public at

For more information about the Higher Learning Commission, visit

Southeastern’s Bryon Clark shares knowledge through “batty’’ presentations

Dr. Bryon Clark talks bats with first-graders at Washington Irving Elementary School in Durant.

Dr. Bryon Clark talks bats with first-graders at Washington Irving Elementary School in Durant.

DURANT, Okla. – Bryon Clark’s interest in bats dates back to his childhood days on the family farm in Iowa.

“We were renovating our farmhouse and one day as they pulled the shingles off the roof we discovered a bat in between the rafters,’’ Clark recalled. “I was in the first grade at the time and I took it in a box to school for show and tell. Afterward, I took the bat home and released it. I guess I’ve been interested in bats ever since.’’

Keep in mind that this was the 1960s, a simpler time when “show and tell’’ was not regulated like it might be today and all types of exotic creatures appeared in the


Today, Dr. Clark is Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs – Student Learning and Accreditation — at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a longtime biology professor. His study of bats has taken him across the United States and abroad.

And come Halloween time, he is often asked to share his knowledge of the flying creatures in presentations to students and adults alike.

“I probably make eight to 10 presentations a year,’’ Clark said. “In addition to local schools, I’ve traveled to such places as Ardmore, Stillwater, Idabel, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, and even Florida for programs.’’

His “Amazing World of Bats’’ presentation normally lasts 30-45 minutes, with plenty of time for questions, whether he’s at an elementary/middle school or civic club. Clark’s traveled the educational bat circuit for some 25 years now and the tradition has developed quite a following.

Worldwide, there are approximately 1,100 species of bats, according to Clark, including 22 types in Oklahoma and 32 in Texas.  In southeast Oklahoma, the most common is the Eastern Red bat.

“In many cases, bats get a bad rap,” he said.  “In movies and on television, they’re often characterized as blood-sucking vampires.  There are actually three types of vampire bats but none regularly occurs in the United States.  In fact, bats provide many beneficial services such as eating insect pests and pollinating several economically important plants in tropical areas.

“ One of the biggest misconceptions about bats is that most all of them carry rabies when in fact, a recent scientific study found that only about 1% of bats in natural populations in the United States and Canada are carriers; this percentage increases to about 6% for the bats most commonly encountered by people.  That does not mean that you should not be careful.  If you see a bat, especially one that is on the ground and appears to be sick, do not touch it with your bare hands but carefully remove the bat from the area so that it doesn’t bite an unsuspecting child or pet.”

Other frequent questions that fly Clark’s way are ‘how long do bats live?’ and ‘why do they hang upside down?’

“The life expectancy for bats in this region can range from 20 to 30 years,’’ he said. “By hanging from the ceiling of caves, they are protected from predators.’’

Over the years, Clark has received a number of phone calls from concerned citizens who were fearful that bats had infested their dwellings.

In some cases, he noted that instead of bats, birds known as chimney swifts were the culprit.

However, on other occasions, Clark has discovered  the real thing.

In one such instance, he rescued some 50 big brown bats from a business establishment. It seems that the bats had decided to use the second floor as a roosting site. Clark frantically collected the bats and moved them to a safe location.

Clark encourages everyone to learn more about bats and be bat friendly.

“These are tough times for bat populations in the United States,’’ he said.   “White-nosed syndrome has killed about 5.7 million bats since first being discovered in 2006 and many bats have lost their roost sites in caves and mines.”

Clark is just one of many Southeastern faculty/staff members who lend their expertise volunteering in various capacities in the community.

As a matter of fact, The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education named Southeastern Oklahoma State University to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This honor is in recognition of schools for their commitment to improving their communities through community service and service learning.

During the 2010-2011 academic year, more than 760 individuals from Southeastern (students-faculty-staff) completed approximately 30,000 hours of community service activity.

Clark  joined the University faculty in 1990, after completing his post-docotral studies at Oklahoma State University, and having having earned his Ph.D. at Kansas State University, his master’s at Western Illinois University, and his bachelor’s at Central College (Iowa).

If you would like to learn more about bats or to request a presentation, please contact Clark via e-mail at