Jill and Cary Brown of Midland, Texas, have given Oklahoma Christian University $1 million to fund student scholarships and renovate OC’s historic Benson Hall, President John deSteiguer announced Tuesday.
The renovation will include the Terry and Marty Johnson Administrative Suite. It will be named in honor of Jill’s parents, Terry and Marty Johnson, who served as Oklahoma Christian’s president and first lady from 1974 to 1996.
Benson Hall, named for former Oklahoma Christian chancellor George Benson, was one of the four original academic facilities built when the college relocated to Oklahoma City from Bartlesville in 1958.
President deSteiguer made Tuesday’s gift announcement at OC’s daily Chapel service, which featured President Johnson as the keynote speaker.
“We wanted to honor my parents and we were thrilled that the university decided to move the administration to Benson Hall, where my father served during his presidency,” said Jill Brown, who serves on Oklahoma Christian’s Board of Development. “The gift for scholarships came from where our heart is. We want to help students pursue their education here. We love hearing stories about students getting to come to OC, developing and growing in their relationship to Christ.”
Cary Brown is president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for Legacy Reserves, LP. He has 22 years of experience in the oil and natural gas industry, co-founding Moriah Resources, Inc., and Petroleum Strategies, Inc., before joining Legacy Reserves in 2005.
Brown previously served as an auditor for Grant Thornton in Midland and Touche Ross in Houston. In 1995, he partnered with Dale Brown to found the Executive Oil Conference, which draws more than 300 oil and natural gas industry professionals each year.
The Browns are members at Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland, where they are actively involved in missions and other ministries. They have four children: Mitchell, Emily, Ashley and Joshua.
“Terry and Marty have been such big influences in my life,” Cary Brown said. “Honoring them and partnering with them in their mission to help students grow and work out their faith … that is Terry’s and Marty’s passion, and that’s the joy we get out of this gift.”
Johnson’s presidency included more than $100 million raised for construction, endowment and operations, the construction of the Bible building (now known as the Williams-Branch Center for Biblical Studies), the Garvey Center, the Thelma Gaylord Forum and Enterprise Square USA.
It also included the expansion of the Mabee Learning Center and the Payne Athletic Center, the establishment of the engineering program and Prince Engineering Center, the start of the Vienna Studies program and the master’s degree in ministry, and OC’s move to university status in 1990.
Campus visits by iconic figures and leaders like Bob Hope and Sam Walton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush also highlighted Johnson’s tenure. The elder Bush was the President of the United States when he came to OC’s campus in 1992.
Marty, an accomplished teacher and businesswoman, is a legendary hostess and conversationalist. She welcomed countless world, civic and church leaders into the Johnson home as the consummate first lady.
“The legacy of Terry’s and Marty’s leadership continues to make a profound impact on OC today. They made people from all over the world feel at home here, and their service helped Oklahoma Christian grow by leaps and bounds,” said deSteiguer, who became OC’s seventh president in May. “They are committed to Christian education, they love OC, and we are grateful that Cary and Jill share that love and commitment. We are humbled by their desire to help more students pursue a first-rate Christian education, and we are thrilled that this gift will celebrate our history as we educate and innovate for years to come.”
This is the third seven-figure gift Oklahoma Christian has received in the past three months. In June, Mo and Richard Anderson of Austin, Texas, presented a $1 million gift to fund what will be known as the Anderson Endowment for Academic Excellence in Athletics. In July, 1992 OC alumnus Ricky Lawson and his wife Kelly provided the anchor gift for a new softball stadium, Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza.
Oklahoma Christian, recognized as one of the best universities in the western United States by U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review, offers undergraduate programs in more than 60 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors Program, and graduate programs in business administration, engineering, ministry and divinity.
The university is nationally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has discipline-specific accreditations from ABET (computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering programs), the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
In addition to its Oklahoma City campus, OC has study abroad opportunities in Europe, Honduras and the Pacific Rim.