Oklahoma Christian honors outstanding faculty, staff

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – At its spring commencement ceremony, Oklahoma Christian University (OC) presented four faculty members with awards for their outstanding accomplishments, service and leadership.

Heath Jones and Jeff Simmons received OC’s Faculty Leadership Award; Jeff Price received the Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching Award; and Richard Wright received the Jack and Barbara Rowe Distinguished Scholar Award.

Jones is a professor of music at Oklahoma Christian, where he directs the OC Jazz Ensemble. He has served as president of the Oklahoma Jazz Educators Association and was named the 2008 University Jazz Educator of the Year. A professional saxophonist, he has performed with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Lesley Gore, Frankie Avalon, Jim Nabors, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Wayne Newton, and many more. His upcoming album features jazz notables Tony Monaco, Grant Goldstein and Willie Peterson.

Price leads OC’s Gaming and Animation program, which The Princeton Review and PC Gamer ranked 14th in the nation this year. OC is the state’s only university, and one of just two in the southwestern United States, to be honored on the undergraduate list. As principal of Price Media Group, he has won numerous industry awards in video, animation, interactive, and print design. His students have gone on to work at industry giants such as Dreamworks, Sony Imageworks, Midway Games, and Big Idea.

Simmons chairs the Department of Management and Marketing in OC’s School of Business Administration. He has led the university’s ethics team to two consecutive state championships, advancing to the regional and national competition for two years running. He teaches OC’s international business and global marketing courses; his expertise includes a stint with the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Wright is an associate professor of New Testament in OC’s College of Biblical Studies. His scholarship explores the intersection of the New Testament and the early church with Greco-Roman philosophies and religions. His recent research has explored philosophies about music’s role in moral formation and in Greco-Roman society. His upcoming book is tentatively titled, “Citizenship in Heaven: Paul’s Advice to a Status-Conscious Church.”

Oklahoma Christian also presented awards to outstanding staff and faculty at its annual Spring Dinner. The university named Judy Davis as the Staff Employee of the Year. Davis has served as OC’s director of residence life since 2000. She has worked at Oklahoma Christian for almost 30 years, previously serving as a hall director, housing director, and director of campus life.

The Second Mile Award, sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond, was presented to missionary-in-residence Kent Hartman and associate professor of biology Eric Phelps. Hartman teaches Bible classes and a popular class on personal and family finances at OC. Phelps recently received a $60,000 OCAST grant to develop new training resources for undergraduate educational programs.