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UCO@125 Luminaries

Dwight Adams

Dwight Adams, former director of the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, currently serves Central as the director of the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute. In 2003 he was named the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award as Distinguished Executive, the highest award given in the Federal Government.

John Adams

John Adams was a member of the Territorial Normal School’s first graduating class in 1897.

Philip Adamson

Philip Adamson, a UCO alumnus, is a cardiologist and heart failure specialist. He serves as the medical director and vice president of medical affairs for St. Jude Medical.

Alvin Alcorn

Alvin Alcorn managed Central's successful physical expansion in the 1960s. As the school’s first controller he worked to increase the campus to 200 acres and added more than 20 new buildings. He retired as vice president of administration after 23 years of service to the university.

Bill Anotubby

Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby has served as governor of the Chickasaw Nation since 1987. From 1979-87 he served two terms as lieutenant governor in the administration of Gov. Overton James. He has provided support and leadership throughout the course of the Old North renovation project.

Rita Aragon

Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon (Ret.) is the first female secretary of Military and Veterans’ Affairs for Oklahoma, the first female commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, and a member of the College of Education and Professional Studies advocacy council.

Corean Armstrong

Corean Armstrong was one of the first African-American graduate students at Central. She enrolled in 1954 to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.

Wilma Armstrong

Wilma Armstrong served as dean of women and organized the Association of Women Students.

Sherry Beasley

Sherry Beasley, a Central graduate, is president of Oklahoma City’s Interior Images Inc. She is a member of the UCO Foundation Board of Trustees and served as a co-chair for the Always Central campaign. In 2012, Sherry and her husband Lee donated $100,000 to establish endowed scholarships in UCO’s College of Mathematics and Science and the College of Education and Professional Studies. 

William Beasley

William Beasley, an alumnus, has been a generous supporter of Central’s College of Mathematics and Science and  served as co-chair of the Always Central campaign.

Jim Beaver

Jim Beaver is a writer, actor and Central alumnus known for his acting roles on HBO’s “Deadwood” and The CW’s “Supernatural.” 

Ida Belt

Ida Belt was a member of the Territorial Normal School’s first graduating class in 1897.

Bill Burchard

Bill Burchardt, a Central alumnus, was a creative writing instructor at Central, the 1972 president of the Alumni Association and served as editor of Oklahoma Today for 19 years.

Martha Burger

Martha Burger, a Central alumna, provided generous support for the CHK|Central Boathouse and served as co-chair of the Always Central campaign.

Don Burget

Don Burget was a Central standout in football, basketball and track from 1951-54. He was inducted into the UCO Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998. Following his death in 2011, his wife, Shigeko, made a $1.5 million donation in his memory to UCO Athletics.

Murray Butler

Murray Butler, one of the first African-American undergraduate students at Central, enrolled in 1955.

Frank Buttram

Frank Buttram, an oilman, attended classes at Central State Normal School. He donated funds that helped to build Central’s Y-Chapel of Song. 

John Cage

John H. Cage served as director of Funeral Service Education and was the first administrator for the Department of Funeral Service Education.

Jeremy Campbell

Jeremy Campbell is a three-time Paralympic gold medalist and winner of the ESPY Best Male Athlete with a Disability award.

Ruby Canton

Ruby Canton, a Central librarian from 1908-28, was the first to teach library science in Oklahoma. Ruby “opened the stacks,” allowing Central’s students to browse the bookshelves rather than requesting books from a catalog.

Stanley Case

Stanley Case, a Central alumnus, was an award-winning anchor for CNN Radio and Headline News. His wife, Angela Stiepel Case, created the Stanley W. Case Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Mass Communications in his memory.

Max Chambers

W. Max Chambers, the fifteenth president of Central (1949-60), was a 1914 graduate of Central State College. The library is named in his honor.

Wei Chen

Wei R. Chen is the interim dean of the College of Mathematics and Science and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research. The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation named him the U.S. Professor of the Year for Master's Universities in 2008.

Anton Classen

Anton Classen donated the land needed to establish the Territorial Normal School campus and build Old North, the campus' first building.

Desmond Lim Siew Choon is a UCO alumnus and real estate entrepreneur in Malaysia.

Ray Clemons

Ray “Duke” Clemons, a state and national champion heavyweight wrestler with All America honors, was a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team.  

Reba Collins

Reba Collins, a Central alumna, was the editor of The Vista, a professor of journalism and later served as director of Central’s Department of Public Relations. While director she lobbied Oklahoma’s legislature to have the name Central State College changed to Central State University.

Anna Scroggs Coyner

Anna Scroggs Coyner was a Central alumna and faculty member in the College of Business for more than 25 years.

Edward Dale

Edward E. Dale, a graduate of Central State Normal School, was an Oklahoma historian and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.

John Davis

John Davis, a professor of physics and chemistry known as the “Wizard of Central,” also taught the first photography classes at Central. He left behind a collection of photographs documenting Central’s early history. 

Grace Ethel Derrick

Grace Ethel Derrick served as head of the Department of Biology for more than 30 years.

Jan Douglas

Jan Douglas served as a computer programmer at Central for 30 years. The Jan Douglas Endowed Scholarship for Computer Science was created in her memory.

Karen Dowd

Karen J. Dowd has served UCO for more than 27 years, working as the women’s head track coach, field hockey coach, senior women’s athletic director, assistant dean in the College of Education and vice president of Academic Affairs. She was the first Oklahoman to serve as president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Gertrude Dulan

Gertrude Dulan was one of the first African-American graduate students at Central. She enrolled in 1954 to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.

Hall Duncan

Hall Duncan is an author, artist and illustrator who taught cartooning and advertising design at Central for 17 years. He designed the UCO Mace in 1975 and led the procession during the inauguration of President Betz.

Mamie Ealey

Mamie Ealey was one of the first African-American graduate students at Central. She enrolled in 1954 to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.

Phronia Eckes

Phronia Eckes was a member of the Territorial Normal School’s first graduating class in 1897.

Alberta Eddens

Alberta Eddens, one of the first African-American undergraduate students at Central, enrolled in 1955.

Charles Evans

Charles Evans, the eighth president of Central (1911-16), oversaw the construction of Evans Hall and the Old North clock installation.

Mary Fallin

Gov. Mary Fallin, a Central graduate student from 1979-81, currently serves as the governor of Oklahoma.

Lauren Nelson Faram

Lauren Nelson Faram is a UCO alumna and Miss America 2007.

Steven Farley

Capt. Steven Farley, a Central alumnus and an Army and Navy veteran, received numerous military achievement awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Deployment Ribbon.

Ida Freeman

Ida Freeman began her teaching career in 1898 in a one-room schoolhouse. She was a faculty member at Central in the 1930s and a pioneer of education in Edmond.

Alvin Freiberger

Alvin Freiberger, a longtime faculty member, served as Dean of Men and was a dedicated supporter of Central’s ROTC.

Woody Gaddis

Haskell “Woody” Gaddis is a Central alumnus and a former professor. He established the photography program at UCO.

J.J. Pop Gecks

John J. “Pop” Gecks wrote Central’s fight song in 1934 and served as the director of the school’s band from 1932-33. 

Garland Godfrey

Garland Godfrey was the 16th president of Central, serving from 1960-75. He directed expansions in academic programming and physical facilities as the student population grew from 4,000 to more than 12,000. Dozens of new structures, additions, renovations, programs and degrees sprouted during his tenure. 

Milena Govich

Milena Govich, a UCO alumna, is known for her acting roles on NBC’s Law & Order and Conviction.

Hubert Gragg

C. Hubert Gragg established the C. Hubert Gragg Endowed Scholarship. His support was instrumental in the construction of the CHK|Central Boathouse.

Twyla Gray

Hon. Twyla Mason Gray served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1980-84, was a district judge in Oklahoma City for four consecutive terms and held a position on the college of Liberal Arts advisory board.

Lizzie Griffin

Lizzie Griffin, a pioneer widow and mother of six, moved to Edmond in 1899 so that her children could attend the Territorial Normal School. More than 30 of her descendants eventually attended classes on campus.

Fred Grosz

Fred Grosz was instrumental in starting UCO’s master’s degree program in Forensic Science and was a founding member of Central’s Emeritus Faculty Association. He served as the chair of the Department of Chemistry and as president of the Faculty Senate.

Carol Hamilton

Carol Hamilton, a Central alumna, is a writer, poet and storyteller who won the 1992 Oklahoma Book Award for her poetry. She served as the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma from 1995-97.

Dale Hamilton

Dale Hamilton spent 44 years at Central as an athlete, coach and athletic director. He earned 12 varsity letters, lettering four straight years in football, basketball and track while earning All-Conference honors on the gridiron and winning conference titles in the 220- and 440-yard dash. Hamilton Field House is named in his honor.

Lucy Jeston Hampton

Lucy Jeston Hampton, a professor of history from 1910-58, founded Central’s Laboratory of Original Evidence and served as the school’s first archivist.

Emma Estill Harbour

Emma Estill Harbour, a professor at Central for 40 years, served as chair of Central’s Department of Social Sciences and coordinator of Indian Clubs, was the founder of the Delta Kappa Gamma society for outstanding women educators and the president of the state chapter of the American Association of University Women.

James Milt Heflin

James "Milt" Heflin, an alumnus, retired from NASA in 2013 after a 47-year career at the Johnson Space Center. He served as a recovery engineer for eight Apollo splashdowns in the Pacific Ocean; as a flight controller in Mission Control for the Space Shuttle Enterprise Approach and Landing Tests and for the first nine Space Shuttle missions; and as a flight director for 20 Space Shuttle missions, including seven as the lead flight director. 

Kathy Henry

Kathy Henry, a Central Distinguished Former Student, was one of the first female executives for McDonald's. 

Stanley Hoig

Stanley Hoig, a 22-year faculty member, was a professor of journalism. He served as director of publications and established two endowed scholarships. He is the author of more than 26 books on the history of UCO and Oklahoma and was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1994.

Belva Howard

Belva Howard, a 1979 Central graduate, served as a Regional University System of Oklahoma Regent for 27 years.

Gary Howard

Gary Howard, 34-year football coach at Central, began in 1968 as defensive coordinator and became head coach in 1977. Howard led the Bronchos to a 1982 NAIA National Championship. After transitioning from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II, his squads won the Lone Star Conference title in 1998 with an undefeated season followed by another conference championship in 1999. He is now an assistant professor of kinesiology and health studies. 

John Howard

John W. Howard, an Edmond physician, was elected as the Democratic representative to the new territorial legislature and sponsored the bill to bring the Territorial Normal School to Edmond.

Robert Howard

Robert M. Howard, a surgeon and chief of staff for St. Anthony’s, was valedictorian of the Territorial Normal School’s first graduating class in 1897.

Ernest Howell

Ernest Howell served as head of Central’s Department of Physics from 1920-41.

Joe C. Jackson

Joe C. Jackson, Central’s former vice president of Academic Affairs and dean of students, created several graduate programs, improved academic standards and served UCO for more than 50 years. Central's graduate college is named in his honor.

Rose Jackson

Rose Jackson was a member of the Territorial Normal School’s first graduating class in 1897.

David James

David James was a four-time All-American and two-time national champion as a wrestler at UCO before joining Central’s wrestling coaching staff in 1982. He has been named national Coach of the Year seven times and ranks second among all college coaches at any level in national championships with 12. 

Eleanor Johnson

Eleanor Johnson, a Central alumna, founded The Weekly Reader, a weekly educational news publication for children. It was first published in September 1928. The publication merged with Scholastic in 2012 and continues to serve schoolchildren 87 years after its first issue. 

Edna Jones

Edna Jones served as the secretary of Central’s Alumni Association and is the author of “Sixty Years at Central: Facts and Figures of Service and Friendship Through the Years, 1891–1951.”

Addie Jordan

Addie Lee Jordan was one of the first African-American graduate students at Central. She enrolled in 1954 to pursue a master’s degree in teaching.

Ben Kates

Benjamin Kates, an alumnus, is the co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Midwest Wrecking Co. He and his wife Peggy were named as Central’s 2014 Family of the Year.

John Kessler

John Kessler served as president of Central’s Alumni Association from 1941-47 and as Edmond’s mayor from 1951-55. He established the John Kessler Spirit Award for the university.

Minnie Morton Kibby

Minnie Morton Kibby was the first Territorial Normal School student to become a teacher at a schoolhouse.

Kathryn Kunc

Kathryn Kunc, an alumna, was a 34-year professor of art at Central. She joined the art faculty in 1952 and later became chair of the department. She was honored as Central’s Teacher of the Year in 1967, named Outstanding Faculty Woman in 1974 and 1980, and served as president of the alumni association from 1982-83. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2002.

Paul Lehman

Paul R. Lehman, an alumnus, was Central’s first African-American professor. 

Bill Lillard

Bill Lillard was 17th President of Central (1975-92). During his tenure, the university celebrated its centennial, changed its name from Central State University to the University of Central Oklahoma and expanded the campus with several new classroom buildings and degree programs. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 1994

Judy Love

Judy Love, a Central graduate, is the co-founder of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores and chairman of the Love Family Fund.

Sandra Mackey

Sandra Mackey, an alumna, was an award-winning journalist and author on Middle Eastern culture and politics. Her 2002 book, "The Reckoning — Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein," became required reading for many military officers.

Whit Marks

Luther Whitfield Marks III established Central’s Department of Physics in 1955.

Laressa McBurney

Laressa Cox McBurney, one of the original staff members of The Vista, gave the campus newspaper its name. She became an award-winning author and poet.

Joni McClain

Joni McClain is the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas. She serves as a registered death investigator and maintains a record of scholarship with more than a dozen publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Aubrey McClendon

Aubrey McClendon is the CEO of American Energy Partners. His support helped to create the CHK|Central Boathouse and develop the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River.

Sharon McCollam

Sharon McCollam is the chief administrative officer and CFO for Best Buy Co. She was named a UCO Distinguished Alumni in 2014.

Dale McConathy

Dale McConathy, an alumnus, was a critic, writer, editor and educator. He donated the McConathy Collection to Central’s library, was named a Distinguished Alumni in 1969 and was posthumously awarded the Centennial Broncho Award in 1990.

Dorothea Meager

Dorothea Meagher was the chair of Central’s Department of Mathematics from 1952-70 and dean of women for 12 years.

John Mitch

John L. Mitch served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Normal School Board of Regents from 1892-1900. Edmond’s Mitch Park is named in his honor.

Mary Monfort

Mary Monfort dedicated 30 years of service to Central’s Masters of Education in Reading program and served as the program coordinator.

E.D. Murdaugh

Edmund D. Murdaugh, fourth president of the Territorial Normal School (1895-1901), was the coach of the baseball team, initiated the school’s first summer term, hired Normal’s first librarian and instituted the first formal banquet in 1899.

Saundra Naifeh

Saundra Gragg Naifeh is a Central alumna and the first female mayor of Edmond.

Olivia Nash

Olivia Nash, one of the first African-American undergraduate students at Central, enrolled in 1955.

J. Gail Neely

J. Gail Neely, a Central Distinguished Former Student, is a surgeon and professor at the Washington University School of Medicine. He created Central’s Neely Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999 to encourage excellent teaching and to honor his first teachers — his parents El Roy and Lucile Hawker Neely.

Donna Nigh

Donna Nigh, an alumna and first lady of both Central (1992-97) and the state of Oklahoma (1979-87), devoted her life’s work to advocating for those with special needs. The Donna Nigh Department of Advanced Professional and Special Services is named in her honor.

George Nigh

Gov. George Nigh, the 18th president of Central (1991-97) served as the governor of Oklahoma from 1979-87. He doubled the size of UCO's campus and the Nigh University Center is named in his honor.

Francis Oakes

Francis Coram Oakes, acting president of Central in the summer of 1918, was a professor of English and taught at Central for five decades. He served as head of the Department of English and the Department of Foreign Language, editor of The Vista and organized the school’s first athletic department.

Cliff Otto

Cliff Otto served as head of the Department of Science for 15 years. Otto was the acting president (1935) of Central for two months after President Malcom A. Beeson stepped down.

Ronald Paddack

Ronald Paddack is the founder and former director of Central’s Office of International Student Services.

Virginia Peters

Virginia Peters, an alumna, was a standout athlete at Central prior to joining the faculty. She served as director of the Women's Athletic Program, a coach and as chair of the Kinesiology and Health Science Studies Department during her 34-year career at Central.

Emma Plunkett

Emma Willment Plunkett, a 38-year member of Central’s faculty, served as the chair of the Department of Health and Women's Physical Education. Along with her sister Josephine, she donated $1 million to the university. Plunkett Park is named in both her and her sister’s honor.

Josephine Plunkett

Josephine Plunkett was an alumna and an award-winning mathematics teacher. Along with her sister Emma, she donated $1 million to the university. Plunkett Park is named in both her and her sister’s honor.

Bill Radke

William J. Radke joined Central's faculty as a professor in 1975 and served in a variety of roles including eight years as provost. He spearheaded Central's commitment to transformative learning and undergraduate research and helped create the Centre for Global Competency.

Guy Rankin

Guy Malear Rankin, a faculty member from 1924-41, helped lead the fundraising for Central’s field house and stadium, assisted in establishing the campus radio station, served as the university's representative to the Oklahoma Higher Education Alumni Council and was the founder of Edmond YMCA and Edmond Library.

Jessie Ray

Jessie Newby Ray was a professor of foreign languages from 1930-56 and chair of the Latin Department. She led the fundraising effort for Central’s Y-Chapel of Song.

Milton Reynolds

Milton Reynolds, founder and editor of The Edmond Sun, was an advocate for Edmond as the site of the Territorial Normal School.

Chad Richison

Chad Richison, an alumnus, is the founder, president and CEO of Oklahoma City-based Paycom.

Charles Richmond

Charles Richmond served as dean of men in the 1940s and as an adviser to Central’s Student Senate.

Randy Ross

Randall Ross, an alumnus, has been a UCO Foundation Board Member for nearly 30 years. He is the mayor of Choctaw, a member of the Oklahoma Accounting Hall of Fame and a 2012 UCO Distinguished Alumnus.

Kaye Sears

Kaye Sears has been a professor, mentor and adviser at Central for 40 years, winning the Vanderford Teaching Award in 2007. She currently serves as the chair of the department of Human Environmental Sciences.

Katrina Shaklee

Katrina Shaklee started the Endeavor Games at UCO in 2000 and supported the initiative to make UCO a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site.

Suzanne Silvester

Suzanne Silvester donated the Melton Legacy Collection to UCO’s College of Fine Arts and Design.

Wendell Simmons

John Wendell Simmons was a sports announcer for Central and chairman of the school’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Coleman Smith

Coleman Smith, professor of music at Central for 26 years, organized the Men’s Glee Club, the Old North Belles Sextet, and the Central Tunesmiths, a song and dance troupe. He taught undergraduate and graduate courses including vocal music methods, choral arranging and conducting, and choir.

Troy Smith

Troy Smith is the founder of Sonic Corporation. He gave Central its largest unrestricted gift in history.

CH Spearman Jr.

C.H. Spearman, Jr. won a national debate championship while at Central and served as president of the student council. He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for six years and introduced the bills to transform Central State College to Central State University.

Marilyn Harris Springer

Marilyn Harris Springer, an award-winning writer and best-selling author, served as Central State University artist-in-residence. She is a member of both the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Writer’s Hall of Fame. 

Randall Stephenson

Randall Stephenson is a UCO alumnus and CEO of AT&T.

Richard Thatcher

Richard Thatcher, a Civil War veteran, was the first principal and teacher of the Territorial Normal School (1891-93). He created the school’s curriculum, taught its first classes and following his tenure as principal served as Head of Mathematics.

Elizabeth Hilton Threatt

Elizabeth Hilton Threatt was one of the first African-American graduate students at Central and the first to graduate. She enrolled in 1954 to pursue a master’s in teaching and received her degree in 1959. 

Skip Wagnon

John "Skip" Wagnon served as a student athletic trainer at Central in the late 1960s and became head athletic trainer for Central in 1971. He became executive director of the Alumni Association in 1979 until being named athletic director and men’s golf coach in 1986. Wagnon spent 18 years during his stint as golf coach, leading the Bronchos to eight national tournaments.

Agnes Wantland

Agnes Wantland, wife of then-football coach Charles Wantland, named the UCO Letterman’s Club the "Bronchos," giving Central its "H," then the common spelling.

Charles Wantland

Charles Wantland was Central’s athletic director and first dean of men. He led the school’s football team to conference championships in 1923, 1924 and 1929.

Clifton Warren

Clifton Warren created the Department of Creative Studies, believed to be one of two in the country at the time, and served as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of English. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2001.

Chris Watson

Chris Watson, an alumnus, holds the 2015 NCAA Division II 165-pound national championship in wrestling. He is a three-time All-American, the 2015 NCAA Division II Wrestler of the Year and the winner of the MIAA’s 2014-15 Ken B. Jones Award for the male student-athlete of the year.

Edgar Wax

Edgar Wax was a mathematics professor and head of Central’s Mathematics Department from 1920-48.

Roger Webb

Roger Webb, the 19th president of UCO (1997-2011), oversaw great growth at Central during his 14 years at the helm, including the opening of the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO (ACM@UCO), the W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute, the UCO Jazz Lab, the UCO Wellness Center, a newly renovated Wantland Stadium, the Center for Transformative Learning, as well as the College of Fine Arts and Design, the UCO School of Music, and the School of Criminal Justice.

Elizabeth Wiebe

Elizabeth Wiebe served as chairperson for the Department of Nursing and oversaw the development of Central’s nursing curriculum.