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Southeastern announces 2024 Distinguished Alumni class

June 25, 2024

Southeastern Oklahoma State University will honor five Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming festivities October 4-5.

The 2024 Distinguished Alumni class consists of:

Blessed Stanley Rother (’65), who earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Southeastern while serving at his first parish, St. William Catholic Church in Durant. In 1968, at his own request, Rother was assigned to the diocese’s mission to the Tz’utujil people of Santiago Atitlán in the rural highlands of southwest Guatemala. He served there until he was assassinated in 1981. He was beatified in 2017, becoming the first American-born priest and martyr to receive this honor from the Catholic Church. The Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine opened in Oklahoma City in 2023.

Terry Barker (’80), who served his country as a helicopter pilot in the United States Army and was a long-time pilot for American Airlines. He also served as a city councilman in his hometown of Keller, Texas. He was an active member of the Southeastern Aviation Alumni Association, as well as aviation organizations including the Quiet Birdmen, the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, and the Grey Eagles. Barker will be inducted posthumously, as he passed away as the result of a crash in a Dallas air show in 2022.

Gary Sherrer (’73), completed his bachelor’s degree at Southeastern after serving as a combat medic in the Vietnam War. He served four consecutive terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1981-88, followed by appointed positions as the state’s first Secretary and Commissioner of Agriculture from 1991-95, and two terms as Secretary of Environment from 1995-97 and 2011-13. His lifetime of service to his state and community has been noted by service on numerous boards, as well as his establishment of the “Do Unto Others” endowment, which provides scholarships to high school seniors with a preference to those attending Southeastern.

Todd Hughes (‘85, ’87), who is the senior director of IT Government Services for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He was previously with the Durant Independent School District where in addition to teaching and serving as head basketball coach, he developed and formed the district’s Information Technology department and became the district’s first chief technology director. At the Choctaw Nation, Hughes has maintained an active involvement with Southeastern students, as his department was the first to participate in the co-op program, which allows students hands-on experience as Choctaw Nation associates while still participating as full-time students.

Roland Fanning (’05), whose success in baseball has rocketed him up the coaching ranks. After playing three seasons for coach Mike Metheny, he was then hired as an assistant coach for the Savage Storm from 2007-2012. Since then, he has been in the Division I ranks with two stints at Oklahoma State, two seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock, and three seasons at Kentucky. He was hired as the head coach at Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn., prior to the 2023 season and has turned the program around, as the Governors had their first winning season in five years and highest winning percentage in a decade in 2024. He has coached two conference Player of the Year award winners and 21 All-American Selections. He has seen 65 athletes selected in the MLB Draft, with four chosen in the first round and seven reaching the major leagues.

These five Distinguished Alumni will be honored at a banquet on the evening of Friday, October 4, as part of the university’s annual Homecoming festivities. Further details will be announced closer to the event. For questions regarding the event, please contact executive director of alumni relations and career services Stephanie Davison at (580) 745-2267 or sdavison@se.edu.