focus magazine fall 2015

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Oklahoma City University's Alumni Magazine



    MINISTRY PROPSThe Rev. Charles Neff sheds light

    on his mysterious collections.

    HOME ADVANTAGEAlumni employ Broadway, touring experience

    to create professional theatre in Oklahoma City.

    No. 1,458Softball coach Phil McSpadden claims

    record wins to lead four-year schools.

    Legendary professor celebrates two Tony Award-winning alumnae


    Bird Lady

  • Robert Henry, President Kent Buchanan, Interim Provost

    and Vice President of Academic Affairs

    ADMINISTRATIVE CABINETJim Abbott, Assistant Vice President

    of Intercollegiate AthleticsAmy Ayres, Vice President for Student Affairs

    and Dean of StudentsLeslie Berger, BA 02,

    Senior Director of University CommunicationsJoey Croslin, Chief Human Resources Officer

    Jason Foreman, Acting Assistant ProvostGerry Hunt, Chief Information OfficerDonna Nance, Chief Financial Officer

    Charles Neff, BA 99, MBA 11, Vice President for University-Church Relations

    Marty OGwynn, Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations

    Casey Ross-Petherick, BSB 00, JD 03, MBA/JD 03, General Counsel

    Elizabeth Sheppard, Assistant Vice President for DevelopmentKevin Windholz, Vice President for Enrollment Management

    ALUMNI RELATIONSCary Pirrong, BS 87, JD 90, Director of Alumni Relations

    Mike Slack, BA 07, MA 12, President, Alumni Board

    EDITORIAL STAFFLeslie Berger, BA 02, Editor of FOCUS

    and Senior Director of University CommunicationsApril Marciszewski, Art Director of FOCUS and Graphic Designer

    Rod Jones, MBA 12, Assistant Director of Media Relations

    WRITERSTerry Phelps, Professor of English

    Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications

    PHOTOGRAPHERJosh Robinson, Web Content Coordinator

    FOCUS A L U M N I M A G A Z I N E 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73106-1493

    (405) 208-7000Story Ideas:

    Alumni News:

    FOCUS is produced semiannually by the Communications and Alumni departments for alumni, parents, and friends of Oklahoma City University.

    Oklahoma City University pledges to recruit, select and promote diversity by providing equality of opportunity in higher education for all persons, including faculty and employees with respect to hiring, continuation, promotion and tenure, applicants for admission, enrolled students, and graduates, without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, handicap or disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

    The Chief Human Resources Officer, located in Room 108 of the Clara E. Jones Administration Building, telephone (405) 208-5075, coordinates the universitys compliance with titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

    Printed on recycled paper.

    CON T E N TS

    FEATURESSummer Camp in Taiwan 3

    Alumni Rack Up Accolades 12 with Regional Theatre Company

    Dance Alumnus Wields Stage Skills 15 for Retail, Residential Business

    Reverend Returns Home to OCU 18

    School of Theatre Ushers in 40a Golden Age

    DEPARTMENTSPresident's Message 1

    Letters 2

    University Update 3

    Alumni 12

    Athletics 16

    Class Notes 19

    In Memory 23

    Honor Roll of Donors 25

    Calendar 41

    O N T H E CO V E R

    TEACHING THE LEADING LADIESLegendary voice professor Florence Birdwell recently visited her students Kelli O'Hara and Kristin Chenoweth on Broadway leading up to the Tony Awards. Both stars were nominated this year for best leading actress in a musical.

    PA G E 6

    Stay Up-To-Date Between Issues: // Read the Archives:

    Cover: Professor Birdwell revels in New York City outside American Airlines Theatre. Photo by Josh Robinson. Above: Alumna Kelli O'Hara and Birdwell on the OCU campus. Photo by M.J. Alexander.



    A Culture of CreativityFall is an exciting time at Oklaho-ma City University. A promising academic year is well underway and some of our best community-wide events are just around the corner.

    Oklahoma City University is a hub of creativity. On this campus, we nurture visionary minds and passionate performers, and we encourage our students to grow into successful servant leaders.

    Creativity in the SciencesOur newly renovated chemistry labs are giving science students enhanced learning opportunities and opening new doors for incoming students. We continue to lead the way in sending science graduates to their professional schools of choice.

    Creativity in the Liberal ArtsInterim Dean Amy Cataldi is spearheading a promising initiative to pair arts and sciences students with area nonprofit agencies. Our students will gain valuable professional experience while living out the OCU mission of servant leadership.

    Creativity in the Performing ArtsThis issue is chock full of the amazing accomplishments of our music, theater, and dance alumni. Our alumni are at the top of their fields and proudly represent OCU around the globe. You can catch the Stars of tomorrow during our popular Christmas performances. Tickets are available now at

    Creativity in NursingOCUs Kramer School of Nursing is on the forefront of continuing education initiatives and provides valuable opportunities for health care professionals in the surrounding community. The nursing school recently hosted its annual Caring Across Cultures Conference with keynote speaker Paula Davis Scimeca, a registered nurse who wrote Unbecoming a Nurse and detailed the problems of addiction in the healthcare industry.

    Creativity in BusinessInnovations are always underway at the Meinders School of

    Business. Dean Steve Agee, who is one of just a handful of deans anywhere who teaches an academic course, has brought in guest lecturers from many of Oklahoma Citys leading energy companies to speak to his masters-level students. These include GE Global Research Centers Manager C. Michael Ming, Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler, Sandridge Energy CEO James Bennett, OG&E CEO Sean Trauschke, and Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy.

    Creativity in LawIt has been a banner year for OCU Law with our move to the historic Central High School building in downtown Oklahoma City. Our school is bucking the national trend in declining law enrollment by posting increases, and that is directly related to the personal learning scenarios and professional opportunities that come with an OCU Law education.

    Creativity in AthleticsOur athletics program continues to hold more national championship wins than any school in the NAIA. OCU has 59 national championships and was recently recognized as a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution by the NAIA. Our program was selected for our commitment to character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition, and character promotion.

    I am also proud to report the university jumped ahead two spots to No. 23 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of masters-level universities in the West. We are the top school in Oklahoma in this category and a leading university nationwide.

    This is a tremendous testament to the creative culture that pervades our campus, and we invite you to take part in these exciting times!

    Best regards,


    President Robert and Dr. Jan Henry Photo by M.J. Alexander

  • 2 // FOCUS Fall 2015

    Mounting ThanksThank you very much for visiting Mount St. Mary High School. We appreciate that you came and spoke to us, sharing your knowledge and insight on politics and the economy. We enjoyed your visit immensely, and we hope you come again!


    Supremely WrittenThe Sandra Day OConnor letter opener is a fine reminder of Wednesdays celebration. Your comments about Sandra were as witty as they were wise. I so enjoyed listening to you.

    With appreciation for a gift to treasure,

    JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURGSupreme Court of the United States

    Chartered ChatThank you for taking time to share your thoughts with us about the Magna Carta. I really enjoyed your comments, and I had others comment as well. I appreciate your service to our state.


    CHRIS BENGEOklahoma Secretary of State

    Legal BriefingThank you for coming to speak at the Holloway Inn of Court Wednesday night. The discussion was very entertaining and informative. We are grateful for the instrumental role you played in our new law school.

    STUDENTS OF THE HOLLOWAY INN OF COURTOklahoma City University School of Law

    Moment of HonorI was pleasantly surprised yesterday in returning to my office to find a handsomely framed remembrance of my commencement experience on your campus. This is a special treat and I will cherish this memento for years to come.

    But well-framed paper pales in comparison to the swell of honor that I experienced in the receiving of a doctorate from Oklahoma City University and the moment of addressing the graduates of your bastion of learning. It was a day that I will never forget and I only wish that my lifes experiences were of greater impact on a larger host so that I might feel deserving of such recognition.

    I am humbled and appreciative for what the Cherokee would describe as oo le he la ste (an honored welcome).

    JAY HANNAH, PH.D. (HONORARY)Executive Vice President of Financial Services BancFirst