News RSS Feed OC lands on U.S. News ‘Best Regional University’ and A+ lists OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oklahoma Christian University (OC) ranks among the top 40 regional universities in the western United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges 2015” guidebook.

Oklahoma Christian rose to No. 40 in this year’s 15-state western rankings and is the No. 2 Oklahoma school in the “Best Regional Universities” category.

In addition to having the most National Merit Finalists per capita of all Church of Christ universities, Oklahoma Christian earned recognition on the U.S. News & World Report list of “A+ Schools for B Students,” which identifies great colleges where scholars with high school GPAs in the B range can be accepted and thrive.

This is the 16th straight year U.S. News & World Report has honored Oklahoma Christian. 

“We are thrilled to be honored again as one of the best universities in the west,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “I’m also proud of this recognition of our A+ approach to B students. It speaks to the heart and quality of our professors, who work alongside our students to bring out their best and help them discover their gifts.”

The U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings assess seven broad categories: undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and graduation rates. The full rankings are available online at

Last month, The Princeton Review again recognized Oklahoma Christian on its “Best in the West” list. In addition, The Princeton Review and PC Gamer recently ranked OC’s game design program as the No. 14 undergraduate program in the nation

OC’s academic reputation is further seen in placement rates at or near 100 percent for accounting, communication design, history, interior design, language and literature, nursing, and political science graduates seeking jobs or acceptance into graduate school and law school.

OC biology graduates have a 95 percent medical and graduate school acceptance rate, and 100 percent of OC Honors Program graduates have been accepted to graduate school the past four years. OC’s chapter of the National History Honor Society has earned national top chapter honors for 17 straight years.

Oklahoma Christian is one of just two members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities with three undergraduate engineering programs accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

OC also boasts the second-highest state education certification exam pass rate in Oklahoma, and is on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Oklahoma Christian offers undergraduate programs in more than 60 fields of study, an undergraduate Honors Program and graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity, and theological studies.

The last decade has featured OC’s 10 highest enrollments ever, including a new school record this fall.


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Mon, 08 Sep 2014 23:01:00 CDT 34fc4b69-dcc1-4347-af8b-8bb0cfd2ad42
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.


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Tue, 06 May 2014 12:00:00 CDT 5fec644e-ca13-48e0-a380-acdde5ff2a9e
OC awards degrees at Spring Commencement OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oklahoma Christian University (OC) will present 198 undergraduate degrees and 39 graduate degrees at its spring commencement ceremonies on April 25-26.

The undergraduate ceremony starts at 10 a.m. Friday in OC’s Payne Athletic Center. The graduate ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in OC’s Hardeman Auditorium.

The undergraduate degree candidates, including 21 graduates from OC’s Honors Program, come from 28 states and 11 countries. They majored in a combined 38 academic disciplines at Oklahoma Christian. 

The master’s degree candidates come from six states and seven countries, and represent 13 graduate areas of study.

Mark Brewer, senior vice president and chief information officer for Seagate Technology, LLC, will deliver the undergraduate commencement address on Friday. William “Chip” Kooi, a professor of theology at Oklahoma Christian, will keynote Saturday’s graduate ceremony.

Brewer leads all of Seagate Technology’s information technology operations worldwide and is a member of the company’s Executive Council. 

His area consists of 1,600 IT professionals located in 20 different countries. His responsibilities include all business systems, factory information systems, electronic security, business continuity and collaboration services, as well as other traditional IT support services for Seagate’s 50,000 employees.

Brewer holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University. He serves as vice chairman of OC’s Board of Trustees and also is on the boards of the Oklahoma Regional Food Bank and the Missions Resource Network. He is a member of the Strategic Advisory Council for OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology.

Kooi graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 1981, then earned his master’s degree in New Testament from Abilene Christian University in 1990, and his doctorate in religion from Baylor University in 1999.

Kooi worked in education, pulpit ministry and inner-city ministry before returning to teach at Oklahoma Christian in 2001. An accomplished theological scholar, he has written for The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell MovementLeaven, and The Christian Chronicle.

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 accountancy, business administration, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity and theological studies.

The last nine years have featured the nine largest enrollments in OC history, including a record 2,424 students this year.


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Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:00:00 CDT 51c455fc-77cb-4437-9b4b-10860b728de5
OC nursing grads help with relief in the Philippines Oklahoma Christian University nursing graduates Reagan Hightower and Erin Downing traveled to the Philippines in December to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.

Haiyan is the deadliest typhoon on record: a category five super typhoon that ripped through Southeast Asia in early November.

“I just couldn’t stop thinking about it,” said Reagan, a nurse in the emergency department at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. “I really wanted to get over there, but I figured it would be restricted to Red Cross workers. Then, I found an organization online and submitted my application. They called me the next day and I bought my ticket.”

Reagan and Erin, an ER nurse with Integris Hospital, went to the Philippines with Heart to Heart International, an organization whose mission is to provide ongoing medical care and supplies to communities in need worldwide.

Read the full story about Reagan’s work in the Philippines on Mercy’s website. KWTV, Oklahoma City’s CBS affiliate, interviewed Reagan for a feature story that you can watch below.

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 13:36:00 CST a144d341-3d52-440e-b885-e6e6d4fb6fc3
Academic departments honor outstanding alumni Oklahoma Christian University’s three academic colleges honored distinguished alumni during Homecoming weekend.

OC’s College of Arts and Sciences, led by Dean David Lowry, recognized Dr. Randel Estep (’86) – Chemistry and Physics; Jason Leger (’00) – Art and Design; Matthew Loeber (’02) – Nursing; David Jones (’94) – Communication; Dr. Travis Montgomery (’02) – Language and Literature; Leah Ries (’83) – Music; Dr. Neil Roberts (’99) – Biological Sciences; Jay Tabor (’86) – History and Political Science; and Dr. Nick Wisdom (’05) – Psychology and Family Studies.

The College of Biblical Studies, represented by Dean Alan Martin, honored Taylor Cave (’89) – Missions; Bob Herndon (’79) – Preaching/Ministry; Ryan Russell (’06) – Youth Ministry; and Ben Glover (’86) – Alumnus of the Year.

The College of Professional Studies, with Phil Lewis as dean, honored Kevin Arledge (’92) – Mathematical, Computer, and Information Sciences; Ted Norton (’84) – Business Administration; Anthony Rose (’07) – Teacher Education; Bahvahnie Smith (’00) – Mechanical Engineering; and Jim Theisen (’97) – Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dr. Estep serves as the Medical Director of Occupational Medicine at the McBride Clinic. He also is a medical consultant for the OG&E Corporation and is Oklahoma’s Delegate to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine House of Delegates.

Leger has been involved in the recording industry, news media, banking, and healthcare. He recently accepted a position with GE’s Oil and Gas division, where he is responsible for Global IT Commercial Operations.

Loeber is a charge nurse, a new hire coach, a preceptor for nursing students, and a certified ECMO technician at OU Children’s Hospital.

Jones is the Manager of Broadcast Operations and Technical Services for the Oklahoma City Thunder, overseeing gameday television broadcasts and operations.

Montgomery recently left the University of Mississippi, where he received the Lawrence “Shaky” Yates Award for Teaching Freshman Composition, for a tenure track position at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

Ries teaches music in the public school system in Mankato, Minn., and serves as Artistic Director of the Mankato Children’s Chorus and director of the junior high and high school choirs.

Roberts has a private practice with the OSSO Healthcare Network as part of The Physicians Group in Oklahoma City and is Director of Endoscopy at Community Hospital in south Oklahoma City.

Tabor is a partner in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, one of the world’s largest international law firms. He has represented General Electric in many transactions, including its $20 billion joint venture with Comcast for the ownership of NBC Universal and in GE’s recent $3.3 billion acquisition of Lufkin Industries.

Dr. Wisdom is a licensed Staff Neuropsychologist in the Mental Health Care Line at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He also is an Assistant Professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine and serves as President-Elect of the Houston Neuropsychological Society.

Cave is the Outreach Minister at Del City Church of Christ, where he preaches on Sunday nights. Herndon is a minister at South Brooke Church of Christ in Tulsa and is involved as a docent with the Philbrook Museum of Art.

Russell works with Northwest Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. Glover is the senior minister with Oakcrest Church of Christ in south Oklahoma City.

Arledge is a Solutions Consultant with the Boston-based software company Kronos, Inc. Norton has worked in various roles for MidFirst Bank, including his current job managing the bank’s Commercial Sales and Marketing group.

Rose is an Assistant Principal at Cheyenne Middle School in Edmond, and also serves as the Youth Minister at Wilshire Church of Christ.

Smith is a Senior Engineering Manager at OG&E, overseeing three groups: Maintenance Engineering, Project Engineering, and Inspection.

Theisen is the lead engineer over the F-16 Power and Controls team for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, where he was recently promoted to the title of Electrical Engineer Staff, Senior.

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 accountancy, business administration, engineering, Christian ministry, divinity, and theological studies.

For the last three years, the cost of attendance for OC undergraduate students has stayed the same, making Oklahoma Christian the only university in the state and the only reporting member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities that did not raise its total price. More information is available at


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Mon, 11 Nov 2013 09:00:00 CST d9f57852-27af-46be-bcad-bcd139785d52
OC selects Elder as nursing chair OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oklahoma Christian University has chosen Kay Elder as chair of the university’s Department of Nursing.

“This is an exciting time of growth for OC and the nursing department. We are welcoming a record number of freshman nursing majors this fall,” said Elder, who previously served as an assistant professor in the department. “I’m honored to help lead the department, especially as we move toward offering a completion program for registered nurses seeking a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing.”

Another area Elder seeks to expand is the university’s community health partnerships.

“We are looking forward to creating new relationships and strengthening the existing partnerships we have with Mercy Medical Center and the Oklahoma City County Health Department, among others,” she said. “Just this fall, we are utilizing three more clinics for our public health focus.”

Elder noted that OC’s nursing enrollment increased by 21 percent this year. Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott LaMascus said Elder will help the department continue to grow.

“We are very pleased to have Kay as our nursing chair,” he said. “She has been an integral part of the growth of OC’s nursing department over the last eight years. We are looking forward to her leadership as she helps our students continue to excel in the classroom and in service to others.”

Elder is a 1978 Oklahoma Christian graduate with a degree in biology. She has two degrees in nursing from the University of Oklahoma and is completing a doctorate in nursing education at Oklahoma City University.

Oklahoma Christian began its nursing degree program in 2006 to help address Oklahoma’s nursing shortage. In 2007, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education fully accredited OC’s nursing program.

OC nursing graduates continue to score above state and national averages on the registered nursing exam, known as the National Council Licensure Examination. Elder said the pass rate for the 2013 graduating class is 87.5 percent, which is higher than the pass rate for the state and the nation.

Service is a hallmark of OC’s nursing department. Each year, students and faculty spend two weeks in May in a practicum experience working with Mission Predisan in Honduras or with underserved populations in the Oklahoma City area.

The HonduraServe group serves clinics in the mountains of Eastern Honduras. The domestic service group works with Lighthouse Medical Clinic in Oklahoma City, Luther Community Service Center, Edmond HeadStart, Luther Elementary School, the Wings special needs community in Edmond, Make Promises Happen Camp in Guthrie, and other underserved population groups.

Two large gifts strengthened OC’s nursing department earlier this year. A $10,000 gift from Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City helped meet the $50,000 fundraising goal for the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing, with a matching gift from an anonymous donor boosting the endowment to $100,000. Another gift of $100,000 funded the new Donna J. Eckhart Endowed Scholarship for Nursing.


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Wed, 28 Aug 2013 09:47:00 CDT ae2d4635-98d4-4293-b307-93ad9cc29ccd
OCAST grant funds OC science research Oklahoma Christian University (OC) was one of only two research universities approved for large grants from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology’s Intern Partnership program.

With the $60,000 OCAST grant, OC assistant professor of biology Eric Phelps will work with Charlesson LLC and principal investigator Rafal Farjo to develop new training resources for undergraduate educational programs.

Phelps’ proposal was based on the idea that faculty members need additional exposure to industry-based biotechnology research to prepare students adequately for future careers in the field.

Charlesson LLC, the pharmaceutical company Phelps works for, will match the OCAST grant to help fund the research.

“This grant will provide the groundwork for me to take some of our best science majors to the company to work,” Phelps said. “I hope this will enable more students to experience research from the perspective of a private pharmaceutical company in addition to the academic research they have experienced. It will also provide new areas for me to expand my teaching and the laboratory training perspective I provide to our students.”

Phelps noted that receiving the grant was a testament to teamwork at Oklahoma Christian.

“OCAST’s decision to award this grant speaks volumes about OC’s leadership,” Phelps said. “The grant would not have been possible without the support of Scott LaMascus, David Lowry and Tim VanWagoner.”

LaMascus is OC’s vice president for academic affairs, Lowry is dean of OC’s College of Arts and Sciences, and VanWagoner chairs OC’s Department of Biology.

“We are incredibly proud of Eric for his ambitious research and his dedication to students in the classroom. He is very deserving of this grant,” LaMascus said. “We are also inspired by OC alumnus Ken Parker, another grant recipient.”

OCAST awarded a $50,356 grant to NextThought, a technology company founded and run by Parker, a 1983 Oklahoma Christian graduate who also serves as a member of OC’s Board of Trustees.

RiskMetrics Group, co-founded by Parker, created 150 technology jobs in Oklahoma and sold for $1.55 billion in 2010.

Program goals for OCAST’s Intern Partnership program include developing collaborations among business owners, university professors and undergraduate students. Some of the students become full-time employees on completion of their internships.


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Mon, 22 Jul 2013 09:51:00 CDT f50a0e30-b34b-47b7-971a-cddd47e33072
Nursing endowment honors former student Oklahoma Christian University held a public reception Wednesday to honor Rebecca Stafford and celebrate the support for a nursing endowment in her name. 

Rebecca, a former OC student, lost her three-year battle with cancer on March 10, 2012 – two months shy of her 21st birthday.

The accompanying video includes comments from Rebecca's parents, Barry and Tonda Stafford, OC nursing student Tiffany Richey, and OC representatives Will Blanchard and Linda Fly.

Click here to read more about the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing.

The current fundraising total for the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing is $110,597. Oklahoma Christian will work to grow the endowment to provide scholarship funds for more nursing students. For more information, call (405) 425-5119 or email

Checks and pledges can be sent to:

Oklahoma Christian University
Office of Advancement
c/o Jo Griffin
P.O. Box 11000
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-1100
(Indicate “Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing” on the memo line)

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Thu, 28 Feb 2013 15:24:00 CST 442594a1-903f-4a59-b9a5-5d878daaacd6
OC holds undergraduate prices for second straight year Oklahoma Christian University (OC) officials announced today that undergraduate tuition will not increase for the 2013-14 academic year.

The cost of attendance for OC undergraduate students also stayed the same from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

“Affordability is a big deal to us because affordability is a big deal to students and their families,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “Holding our total price is the right thing to do again because we want students to get a first-rate higher education at the best value possible.”

OC’s undergraduate tuition will remain $18,800 for students taking up to 17 hours per semester. Average room and board costs also will stay the same for a total price of $24,975. Oklahoma Christian also is continuing its policy of not charging student fees.

According to the College Board, the average total price of private universities rose 4 percent last year to $39,518. OC was the only university in Oklahoma and the only reporting member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that did not raise its total price in 2012-13.

“With more students being priced out of higher education, Oklahoma Christian wants to provide an affordable college home where they can discover their passion and use their talents for good,” deSteiguer said. “As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, colleges need to do their part to keep costs down. Freezing our cost of attendance for two years running is a big part of our commitment to do that.”

Factoring in scholarships and grants, OC’s average net price actually decreased in the latest reporting period for the U.S. Department of Education. More than 90 percent of Oklahoma Christian students receive financial aid, including performance and athletic scholarships, need-based financial grants, and governmental assistance.

OC’s Presidential Academic Success Scholarship rewards academic achievement tied to student performance on ACT and SAT exams. Oklahoma Christian also offers large scholarships for National Merit Scholars. OC has seven National Merit Scholars in its freshman class and 30 National Merit Finalists overall, the most per capita of all Church of Christ universities.

OC’s “no fees” approach allows students and families to better assess costs in comparison to colleges and universities that charge course fees and other significant fees on top of their tuition “sticker price.” Differential tuition will continue for students participating in nursing clinicals or taking private music lessons.

OC students can shape their costs with technology, housing, dining and other choices that best fit their budgets and needs. They also can continue to supplement their meal plans with the optional purchase of “Eagle Bucks” for tax-free dining at Alfredo’s, Chick-Fil-A, Jimmy John’s and the OC Grill.

Graduate prices will range from $400 to $495 per credit hour, with slight increases for master’s students in business and engineering. More information is available at and

OC set school records with 361 graduate students and 2,271 total students enrolled this year. The last eight years have featured OC’s eight highest total enrollments ever.

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, engineering, ministry, and divinity.

In addition to its Oklahoma City residential campus, OC has study abroad opportunities in Europe, Honduras and the Pacific Rim. This year, Oklahoma Christian opened a Learning Support Center in Kigali, Rwanda, allowing Rwandan students to study in OC’s online MBA program.


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Mon, 18 Feb 2013 11:15:00 CST 5a45d6c7-7ce3-4876-a993-e293b1d012f6
Mercy opens clinic on OC campus Mercy Clinic has opened a permanent location, called Mercy Clinic at OC, on the Oklahoma Christian University campus.

“We remember what it’s like to live on campus,” said Mercy Clinic at OC Medical Director Dr. Melinda Cail (OC alumna and daughter of Dr. James Cail, beloved retired Oklahoma Christian University psychology professor who taught for more than 30 years at OC). “Students have enough to worry about, so we want to make health care as simple as it can be – and part of that is geography. We want to bring health care within walking distance for these students.”

Kendall Phillips, certified physician assistant, will be the primary provider for the clinic. The clinic will provide a convenient location for students to receive services such as sutures, flu shots, sports physicals, breathing treatments and general primary care for everyday conditions.

“We are thrilled to partner with Mercy to serve our students,” said John deSteiguer, president of Oklahoma Christian University. “Since OC is highly residential with 80 percent of our undergraduates living on campus, it is important that our students have convenient access to high-quality health care. We’re excited to have one of our outstanding alumni physicians, Dr. Melinda Cail, coming home to OC to direct the clinic.”

The clinic will partner closely with nearby Mercy Clinic Edmond Memorial, located at 1919 E. Memorial Rd., where students will be referred for x-rays and additional tests and treatments.

Mercy Clinic at OC is located at 2801 E. Memorial Rd., Suite 140. Appointments can be made by calling (405) 425-6100. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In December, Mercy gave $10,000 toward the $100,000 Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing. Graduates of OC’s nursing program, fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, frequently exceed the state and national averages on the National Council Licensure Examination. They earned a 92 percent pass rate in 2012.

Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit

Mercy Clinic is a physician-governed group of medical providers across the four states Mercy serves. In Oklahoma, Mercy Clinic has nearly 300 providers and 64 clinics statewide. With access to Mercy’s facilities, electronic health records, telemedicine and each other, Mercy Clinic providers can give their patients the best care available, regardless of the patient’s location. Patients of Mercy Clinic providers can connect to their own health records and health teams anywhere they connect to the Internet. For more information, visit

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Wed, 23 Jan 2013 13:44:00 CST 74f90a1a-d7b3-4d30-b5ad-eceadb2efc5b
OC announces nursing scholarship endowment Mercy donation, large matching gift help meet fundraising goal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma Christian University announced today the full endowment of the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing.

A $10,000 gift from Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City helped meet the $50,000 fundraising goal, with a matching gift from an anonymous donor boosting the endowment to $100,000.

Rebecca StaffordRebecca Stafford, a former Oklahoma Christian University student, lost her three-year battle with cancer in March. After enrolling at OC in 2010, she was able to complete a number of classes despite moving in and out of remission, having countless infections, and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Rebecca wanted to spend as much time as she could as a normal student. Students and people three or four times her age saw her and were inspired,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “The Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship at Oklahoma Christian University is a remarkable tribute to the donors, to the family, to Rebecca and to God. It shows how God can work, and we’re grateful Rebecca’s impact is going to go on long after this.”

OC’s nursing students and faculty rallied around Rebecca as she battled Ewing’s Sarcoma. After she passed away on March 10 – two months shy of her 21st birthday – her family wanted to honor her and help more students earn their nursing degrees at Oklahoma Christian.

“During Rebecca’s illness, nurses were family,” said Rebecca’s mother, Tonda Stafford. “This scholarship can work for the good after everything she went through. It’s what we see is needed because good Christian nurses are amazing.”

Rebecca’s treatment began at Mercy after Dr. Frank Davis, the Staffords’ longtime physican, diagnosed her cancer in 2009.

“We’re honored to be able to contribute to this scholarship, which is close to our hearts for many reasons,” said Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City president Jim Gebhart. “This scholarship keeps Rebecca’s giving and loving spirit alive, provides a student with an incredible education at OC, and serves the community by educating and training future nurses – members of a profession we deeply respect and admire.”

“God calls us to make a difference. Rebecca touched many lives with her beautiful spirit and her amazing heart full of grace, courage, kindness and faith. And we hope what we’re doing will make a tremendous difference in helping others learn how to provide competent, compassionate care,” said Rebecca’s father, Barry Stafford.

Oklahoma Christian began its nursing degree program in 2006 to help address Oklahoma’s nursing shortage. In 2007, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education fully accredited OC’s nursing program.

In addition to the classroom curriculum and nursing clinicals at Oklahoma City metro-area hospitals, OC’s nursing program helps prepare students with a four-hour course in health care missions and Christian service. Many students participate in OC’s HonduraServe mission, a four-day trip to Honduras to see patients in various villages, clinics and hospitals.

OC nursing graduates frequently exceed the state and national averages on the National Council Licensure Examination, earning a 92 percent pass rate in 2012.

“Rebecca’s courage throughout her battle with cancer reminded us all that all patients deserve to have someone there, by their side, as they face the medical challenges that come their way,” said Linda Fly, OC’s director of nursing. “This gift will allow OC’s nursing program to train more Christian nurses to do just that.”

Oklahoma Christian will work to grow the endowment to provide scholarship funds for more nursing students. For more information, call (405) 425-5119 or email

Checks and pledges can be sent to:

Oklahoma Christian University
Office of Advancement
c/o Jo Griffin
P.O. Box 11000
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-1100
(Indicate “Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing” on the memo line)


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Mon, 10 Dec 2012 14:55:00 CST 1e87e721-de42-470e-b141-6a134475ec9b
Academic colleges honor alumni at Homecoming Oklahoma Christian University’s three colleges honored distinguished alumni on Friday.

The special ceremonies were part of OC’s annual Homecoming weekend. The honorees were:

College of Arts and Sciences

Scott Filleman (05) - Music
Amanda Gauthier (11) - Nursing
Jennifer Hill (94) - Psychology and Family Studies
Russell Hill (93) - History and Political Science
Lisa Landrum (89) - Biological Sciences
Dana McMichael (83) - Language and Literature
Brian Simmons (87) - Communication
Roy Stevens (79) - Chemistry and Physics
Megan Wilkes (09) - Art and Design

College of Biblical Studies

Chris Stinnett (87) - Alumnus of the Year
Jeremie Beller (00) - Preaching/Ministry
David Duncan (88) - Missions
Josh Yaeger (04) - Youth Ministry 

College of Professional Studies

Jeff Dimick (83) - Mathematical, Computer, and Information Science
Jeremy Edwards (97) - Business Administration
Ben Knowles (00) - Mechanical Engineering
Tessa Tefertiller (95) - Teacher Education
Mitch Warren (05) - Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Sat, 03 Nov 2012 00:46:00 CDT 3cf2b8be-4c58-4482-8ee0-ce5ba103a9ae
Oklahoma Christian nursing program seeking continued CCNE accreditation Public Announcement
The Oklahoma Christian University nursing program is seeking continued nursing professional accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Oklahoma Christian University will host a site CCNE accreditation visit on October 1-3, 2012.

As an autonomous nursing professional accrediting agency, the CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate nursing programs. CCNE serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective education practices. 

As a voluntary, self-regulatory process, CCNE accreditation supports and encourages continuing self-assessment by nursing programs and supports continuing growth and improvement of collegiate professional education. 

Accreditation by CCNE in essence holds nursing programs accountable to the community of interest – the nursing profession, consumer, employers, higher education, students and their families – and to one another by ensuring the program curriculum is appropriate to prepare individuals to fulfill their expected roles within the nursing profession. 

The OC Nursing Program invites anyone who wishes to learn more about the nursing program and its mission, goals and curriculum objectives to contact Director of Nursing Linda Fly at (405) 425-1920 or at

As part of the procedural process, all affected parties (students, alumni, faculty and the community at interest) are encouraged to provide written input into the deliberations of an evaluation team. In October, the CCNE evaluators will be on OC campus to review the program and determine its eligibility for CCNE accreditation. 

Any specific written and signed third-party comments relating to the accreditation process will be accepted by CCNE. All third-party comments can be directed to the CCNE home office at the address listed below.

Ms. Lori Schroeder, Associate Director
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530
Washington, DC 20036-1120
(202) 887-6791
(202) 887-8476 (fax)

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Mon, 17 Sep 2012 09:00:00 CDT bcf6a66d-a2fe-475c-8791-38bbe94f71fe
OC Professor Brings Clean Water to Philippine Villages While many professors enjoy time off in the summer for fun and recreation, OC’s Al Mikell used two weeks to help change the future of some rural villages in the Philippines. According to Mikell, his trip was a simple example of how highly trained, spiritually motivated faculty used OC’s excellent science facilities to make a difference in the world.

Mikell, an associate professor of biology, has helped improve a bio-filter that can be used to create clean drinking water. OC professors Ryan Newberry, chair of the department of mechanical engineering and the graduate school of engineering, and Bill Ryan, professor of engineering sciences, have been an integral part of the research process behind the filter, which was first tested in labs on the OC campus.

“We want to produce filters that are safe, inexpensive and easy to maintain,” Mikell said.

While in the Philippines, Mikell worked with OC alumnus Bill Westerberg, a missionary in the city of Talisay in the Cebu province. Mikell’s home church in Luther, Okla., supports Westerberg.

“I was so blessed to have had this opportunity,” Mikell said. “The filter is what these people need. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the people there, and I can still see their faces every day.”

Mikell also worked in the Philippines with OC alumnus and Philipino native Sal Cariaga. According to Sal, Mikell’s bio-filter saves money and lives.

“Waterborne illness is one of the leading causes of child-death and loss of productivity among adults,” Cariaga said. “Al’s water filter is organic and does not use chemicals. It is low-maintenance and very low cost.” 

Mikell worked with Sal’s staff to set up and test a generic filter using local materials. He then taught them how to duplicate his system, which will hopefully expand across the country. His trip and instruments were funded by a grant from Partners for Christian Education, a nonprofit in Oklahoma City affiliated with members of the church of Christ that helps establish Christian schools.

“I really feel that due to the prayers of so many loving brothers and sisters, we were able to get our working prototype in place,” Mikell said. “This allowed me to work out the details for a new and improved model.”

Sal also mentioned that Mikell did not hesitate to help or get dirty. One night Mikell attended a Bible study and someone became ill. Mikell helped carry the patient to the hospital and then returned to the village of Arapal to test a bio-filter he had installed earlier.

Mikell wanted to identify with the people he was helping. Therefore, he chose to stay in a grass hut without electricity or plumbing, just as many of the people in that village do every day. Mikell helped conduct Bible studies and preached in house churches and schools. He also visited a number of goat raisers in Cebu that work with the nonprofit organization Give-A-Goat.

Sal’s son, OC alumnus Peter Cariaga, founded the Oklahoma City-based Give-A-Goat, which provides a solution to poverty by giving free goats and training to impoverished families in the Philippines. Sal helps distribute the goats, and he also helps run the Arapal Children’s Home, which now uses one of Mikell’s bio-filters.

“We no longer have to purchase purified water at the goat farm or children’s home,” Sal said. “We believe that Al’s system can reduce water-borne death and disease all over the country.”

When asked about his trip, Mikell said he received more than he gave.

“I love and really miss the great people in the Philippines, who are like my family now. They live unhurried lives and appreciate the good things that God gives them. I miss their smiling faces. I have never been treated as well as they treated me.”

According to OC president Mike O’Neal, Mikell represents the best of the OC community.

“I am so grateful to work with great people like Al, who took part of his summer to help the people of the Philippines,” said Mike O’Neal. “I commend him for his servant heart.”

The trip was even more touching for Mikell because his father was stationed in the Philippines during World War II. The GI Bill allowed Mikell’s dad to attend college, which paved the way for Mikell to attend himself, ultimately becoming a biology professor.

“This trip made my dad very happy, because it was great to see God bring us full circle to the Philippines and to give back to these great people,” Mikell said. “It is so rewarding to see God’s simple plan working so dramatically with in the Church of Christ. What a glory to be a small part of this great work.”

Micro-Biology Professor Slideshow: Dr.’s trip from Cebu, Visayas, Philippines to Cebu City was created by TripAdvisor. See another Cebu City slideshow. Create a free slideshow with music from your travel photos.
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Thu, 22 Sep 2011 03:09:00 CDT c70e7936-c09e-40e0-aa60-971c9a0b40a0
OC Named "A Best in The West" College by The Princeton Review Oklahoma Christian University is one of the best colleges in the West according to the nationally known education services company, The Princeton Review.  It is one of 121 institutions The Princeton Review recommends in its “Best in the West” section of its website feature, “2012 Best Colleges: Region by Region.”

“We are honored to be ranked among the best universities in the West region,” said Mike O’Neal, president of Oklahoma Christian. “This is a reflection of the hard work of our dedicated faculty, staff and students.”

For this project, The Princeton Review asked students attending the schools to rate their own colleges on several issues—from the accessibility of their professors to quality of the campus food—and answer questions about themselves, their fellow students and their campus life.

“We’re pleased to recommend Oklahoma Christian to users of our site as one of the best schools to earn their degree,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s publisher. “We chose it mainly for its excellent academic programs. From several hundred schools in each region, we winnowed our list based on institutional data we collected directly from the schools, our visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of our staff, plus college counselors and advisors whose recommendations we invite. 

The Princeton Review also takes into account what students at the schools reported about their campus experiences on an 80-question student survey for this project.  Only schools that permit the group to independently survey their students are eligible to be considered for the regional “Best” lists. 

The 121 colleges that The Princeton Review chose for its “Best in the West” list are located in 15 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Collectively, the 629 colleges named “regional best” constitute about 25 percent of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges.

Last year The Princeton Review also named Oklahoma Christian as one of the top 50 undergraduate gaming design programs in the nation. It was the only one in Oklahoma to make the list.

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Wed, 03 Aug 2011 03:08:00 CDT 723df8be-7e88-4126-b6c6-378660a1cf35
Wheelers say 'yes' to Oklahoma Christian Lauren Wheeler still gets a personalized tour when she walks around campus with her parents, OC grads Heather and Carl Wheeler.

“Well, Mom always takes a few minutes to point out the first place she saw Dad, where they first talked, first kissed, and where he proposed. The proposal story is definitely my favorite,” said Lauren, a senior biology major from Topeka, Kansas.

Indeed, that proposal story is legendary to alumni, circa 1984. It was during Homecoming, and Heather was starring as Laurie in the musical “Oklahoma.” Carl took a line from Curly, pulled Heather outside the Hardeman stage before the curtain opened, and popped the question.

Heather’s real-life answer, of course, was less reluctant than Laurie’s “Why would I wanna marry you?”

Heather said “yes” and the rest is OC history still in the making. Lauren and her brother Lane are current OC students; LaVon just graduated from Oklahoma Christian as a biology major with a music minor. She also was a member of OC’s Honors Program.

“If I had 1,000 re-dos of where to go to college, I’d choose OC every time. I love it here,” Lauren said. “OC has a very high acceptance rate into med school, an excellent music program, and I love being on a Christian campus. It’s close to home and feels like a second home since my family has gone through here.”

Heather, a music teacher, and Carl, an attorney, have been very intentional about exposing their kids (and all of the other kids they know) to Oklahoma Christian through summer camps, visits and hosting OC groups at their home congregation. 

“I didn’t grow up in a Christian household so I didn’t have that Christian family to rely on other than at church. Then, when I came to OC, and all of a sudden I had two or three thousand Christian folks that became my family,” said Carl, who specializes in child support enforcement for Young Williams Support Services. “Some of my closest friends that I met and made here at OC, I’m still very close with and still feel like family, and their kids feel like family.”

Heather has encouraged her children to get involved and make friends because that’s what she did.

“I’ve finally realized how wise my parents really are,” LaVon said. “They have always encouraged me to do my homework first, but to also go have fun with people in all my free time. Your college friends will be some of your best friends for the rest of your life.”  

That’s true for Heather and her friend Laura Earp, who met their first week on campus about 30 years ago. They ended up becoming roommates, being unofficially adopted as another daughter in each other’s families, and were in each other’s weddings when Heather married Carl and Laura married Philip Autrey.

They have stayed in touch, and they visit each other’s homes in Topeka and in Arlington, Texas, where Laura and Philip live with their three kids, including Victoria, a current OC student. 

Heather was there for Laura when she was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. As Laura battled the aggressive cancer that had advanced to her bones, Heather sprang into action to tend to Laura’s spirit. She set up a Facebook page for updates and prayer requests.

“She can get action out of people, big time,” said Laura, who said she is very grateful for Heather’s energy and for the power of prayer.

Heather also gave Laura a gift. After asking Laura’s friends for their favorite scriptures, Heather painstakingly highlighted them in a Bible she gave her. 

“She did this for me. And every time I open that Bible, I see something new and who sent it to me. It is the most precious gift,” Laura said.

Laura recently received good news about her health. Her tumor markers are lower than they’ve been, and although she remains on chemo, she is very optimistic and grateful.

“So many people prayed for me. That’s what did it,” she said. “That’s why I’m here today.”

That’s what friends are for.

By Dawn Shelton

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Mon, 01 Aug 2011 13:56:00 CDT a6492f7a-884f-47bd-97a2-d3f304d7a10a
Biology professor interviewed in Philippines Associate Professor of Biology, Al Mikell, was recently interviewed in Cebu, Philippines by Elmer Palacio, the President of the Arapal Livelihood Program. He was checking the quality of water with the program.

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Mon, 18 Jul 2011 10:07:00 CDT 2bc43b11-7a92-4291-8936-26e3bb8a8bbf
Oklahoma Christian Welcomes New Faculty Oklahoma Christian University is proud to announce the addition of two faculty members for the 2010-11 school year. Rebecca Briley has been hired as an associate professor of English and as coordinator of the composition/rhetoric program in the department of language and literature. Richard Trout has been hired as an associate professor of biology in the college of arts and sciences.

“Oklahoma Christian is excited to have such experienced and creative individuals to join our talented faculty,” said Allison Garrett, vice president of academic affairs. “Dr. Briley’s deep experience and Richard’s proven teaching abilities help enhance two of the strongest programs on our campus.”

Briley holds holds a doctorate in American literature and drama from the University of Kentucky, where she also earned a master’s degree in creative writing and British literature. She was awarded the English-Speaking Union Scholarship by the University of London in 1987, and was awarded the Fulbright Award to teach American literature at Wulfrun University in Wolverhampton, England from 1990-1991.

Briley was also awarded the Metroversity Instructional Award for a women’s prison project called “Piecing Together Our Mother’s Stories.” This writing/quilting project reconnected women prisoners with their mothers at the Pee Wee Valley Correctional Institute for Women in Kentucky from 1999-2000. Kentuckiana Metroversity, Inc., is a consortium of seven institutions of higher education in the Louisville metropolitan area. It offers annually awards to persons who present the best designs for instructional development in college teaching.

While most of Briley’s career has been spent at the University of Kentucky and the Jefferson County Community College, she has also taught at several other universities such as the University of Maryland in Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands; the Department of Defense American Schools in Bitburg, Germany; and Girne American University in the city of Girne, located in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

Briley has written and produced numerous plays such as Shakespeare’s Sisters, Oprah’s Book Club, Colors of Autumn, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, Somebody Like I Am: Eula Hall’s Story, The Spiral & Arch, Of the Mothers and Scars. In addition, she published a book of poetry entitled Inside Out: Poems from a Workshop.

“Rebecca’s accomplishments and skills will help her department to continue to receive national recognition,” Garrett said.

Oklahoma Christian’s student literary publication, Soundings, was named number one in the nation in 2008 by Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honors Society.

Richard Trout holds a masters degree in natural science from Oklahoma State University. He also did doctoral work in human ecology and environmental health at the OU Health Sciences Center. Trout recently retired from Oklahoma City Community College after 24 years as a professor of biology. He has also taught at Rose State College and the University of Central Oklahoma.

Trout has received numerous awards throughout his career such as the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Oklahoma City Community College in 2007. 

In addition, Trout has authored seven action novels for young adults published by Pelican Publishing. His latest book is to be released in January. Two of his novels were selected by National Geographic for the JASON Project curriculum. Trout was also selected as curriculum advisor the project’s “Resilient Planet” ecology section. While at OCCC, he participated in an Eisenhower Foundation grant to teach secondary science teachers new laboratory skills.

“Rick’s excellent teaching reputation and creativity will help our Biology Department continue to have one of the highest placement rates for medical school of any university in the state,” Garrett said.

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Thu, 26 Aug 2010 04:08:00 CDT 1238c8ab-7968-4de7-8f83-ff5de3ba0ab5
OC offers new forensic science major Oklahoma Christian University will begin offering a bachelor of science major in forensic science this fall.

According to Dr. Bill Luttrell, chair of the chemistry and physics department, OC is uniquely positioned to offer the forensic science major which is rapidly growing in popularity. The university is located near the state’s new forensic science facility in Edmond and has existing faculty with the necessary experience and expertise in the core courses. On-campus laboratories have been recently renovated and additional lab renovations will be completed this fall.

“The interest level among students has been rising since we began offering summer forensic science workshops several years ago,” Luttrell said. “This degree will prepare our students for entry-level positions in the forensic science profession or graduate school.

“Most of the courses are science based and will come from our existing curriculum, primarily in biochemistry,” he said. “As a result of some recent changes in the faculty, we found that we had all the additional requirements for a forensic science major already on staff – one instructor in fire science and arson investigation, one in law and one in toxicology. We will use our existing chemistry core curriculum, three current forensic science courses – introduction to forensic science, forensic analysis and practicum in forensic science – along with two new courses – forensic science and the law and forensic toxicology – to complete the major. OC has the capacity within the sciences and math to offer all the courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics required for accreditation by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Our graduates will meet the requirements for graduate programs at Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma.”

The faculty consists of Luttrell, a toxicologist who has written and edited a toxicology textbook and regularly publishes toxicology technical papers; Dr. Howard Vogel who has experience in arson investigation; Dr. Len Feuerhelm, a physicist with a law degree who once worked for the CIA; and Dr. Amanda Nichols, an inorganic chemist with interests in forensic science.

OC has an excellent relationship with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center just north of the campus and has three students currently interning there, Luttrell said. And with the new forensic science building at UCO, Edmond is rapidly becoming a center for forensic science. 

“We’re excited about this new major because it will ultimately bring more students to Oklahoma Christian, to our science courses and to the upper level biology and psychology courses,” he said. “OC has capacity for 20 to 30 more students in freshman chemistry and organic chemistry. We currently have more than 200 students majoring in the sciences and a good number of those have expressed interest in the forensic science major.”

Oklahoma Christian, named a “Best Western College” by The Princeton Review, and “America’s Best University—Masters” by U.S.News & World Report, is a private, four-year comprehensive university. OC offers degree programs in more than 60 fields of study in three colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Biblical Studies and the College of Professional Studies. The university also offers two graduate degree programs in Biblical studies, a master’s of science in engineering as well as one- and two-year master’s of business administration programs. In addition to its Oklahoma City campus, OC has study abroad opportunities in Vienna, Austria, Honduras, and throughout the western Pacific. For more information about Oklahoma Christian, visit

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Mon, 26 Apr 2010 11:04:00 CDT 61a22372-c3f3-4d08-8685-f1c8b38a52ba
Walk-a-thon raises funds and hope by Sierra Peterson, for The Talon

Not everyone receives a fairy tale ending, but Oklahoma Christian University and Oklahoma Christian Academy are coming together to celebrate life, survival and the continued hope for a cure.

The third annual Relay for Life in honor of Kim Gaither will be held Oct. 3 at Oklahoma Christian’s Vaughn Track. Numerous teams from Oklahoma Christian, Oklahoma Christian Academy and the surrounding community will conduct a 12-hour overnight walk-a-thon.

Relay for Life encourages comfort and lifts up hope to those who have been affected by cancer.

The program brings teams together to promote cancer research, remember those they have lost to the disease and celebrate those who are in remission.

“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a family member or friend who has been affected by cancer,” Student activities coordinator for student life Summer Lashley said.

“This is a time to honor them and do something to help the cause.”

The Oklahoma Christian Relay for Life started in conjunction with Oklahoma Christian Academy in order to honor beloved mother, professor, mentor and friend, Kim Gaither.

“The Oklahoma Christian Academy National Honor Society began this event three years ago after the passing of Kim Gaither,” Oklahoma Christian Academy science teacher Michelle Mallett said. “Brianna [Gaither] was hurting, and after much prayer, together we came up with contacting the American Cancer Society to see what we could do to honor her mom and help others in their fight with cancer.”

Oklahoma Christian and Oklahoma Christian Academy want to bring hope into the lives of those around them and do everything they can to help find a cure.

The more money raised, the more lives will be saved.

A great deal of the funds raised for the cause of a cure are very often done so as a direct result of events,  such as the relay, at universities and colleges.

“Relay money is a large part of the research money given to universities and private research facilities around the U.S.,” Mallett said. “Anything to stop cancer and not have another person hear the words, ‘You have cancer’ and be fearful of death.”

Approximately 300 people participated in the 2007 Relay for Life, and organizers expect the number to grow this year. Teams of eight to 16 people will take turns walking all night with a member on the track at all times.

Oklahoma Christian social service clubs, athletic teams and students have created their own teams who will participate and have also hosted events in order to raise more money for the fight against cancer, as well as remember those they have lost in the battle.

“I know one guy, at least in our club, had cancer, and we dealt with that,” Kappa Sigma Tau social service director Brice Oliver said. “[Relay for Life] is for everyone because cancer is something that everyone has had to deal with.”

The event not only raises money for the cause of creating a cure for cancer, but it also gives participants the opportunities to build new relationships and rekindle old ones.

“When I went I saw a lot of alumni that I haven’t seen in years, and I walked around the track with them,” Lashley said.  “We got to catch up on our lives.”

In addition to the walk, performances, food and activities will be part of the activities in the relay event.

“They had Summer Singers playing, a Wii going and they had food grilling [last year],” Hayley Jones, sophomore and 2007 Relay for Life participant, said. “We just kind of hung out, met new people and walked with other groups.”

Relay for Life can touch the hearts of all involved. A special candle-lighting is held each relay to honor those who have lost the battle with cancer.

The thoughtful way of remembering those who have fallen victim to the disease created a profound affect on those who attended the relay, as well as adding to the specific purpose of the event.

“The candle ceremony was really neat,” Jones said. “They put candles in bags with sand in them and kept them lit all night long. The bags had [the] people’s names on them who had died from cancer.”

Students are still able to sign up to donate or walk in the Relay for Life. A $10 fee, which goes to cancer research, is all it takes to become involved.  Students can form their own teams or come and support those participating.

For more information on joining or donating to Relay for Life, contact Summer Lashley at or Michelle Mallett at or by phone at 405-844-6478.

“It is a great way to stop and take some time to reflect on the people who you are walking for and especially Dr. Gaither,” Lashley said. “I think it brings unity to campus with a common purpose and a common goal. Anything that brings us together to serve for a greater good is definitely something we want to be a part of.”


To learn more about the Kim Gaither Memorial Endowment, click here.

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Fri, 03 Oct 2008 12:10:00 CDT ec80b252-b3da-4031-8564-81dd1b439e64
Nursing students in Honduras Nursing and Biology students from OC went to Honduras during their summer vacations to serve and use their skills to assist at the medical mission, Predisan. This clip is from a report on their work by a local TV news station, Telecab.

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Thu, 07 Aug 2008 07:08:00 CDT a4e36462-5496-4270-b135-6c14d82d5d7d
Two OC alumni featured among Forty Under 40 The following profiles were published in the “Forty Under 40” section of Oklahoma Magazine, featuring OC alumnae Darise Farris and Shannon Thompson

Darise Farris, Ph.D., 38
Click here to watch the video interview
Assistant Member Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Also Adjunct Assistant Professor, OU Health Sciences Center
Hometown: Lawton, OK
Education: B.S., biochemistry, Oklahoma Christian University; M.S., microbiology and immunology, and Ph.D., molecular immunology, OU Health Sciences Center


Most known for: Investigating aspects of a phenomenon known as immunologic tolerance. Tolerance is a process by which cells of the immune system learn not to react to self tissues.

Your true calling: I think that my true calling is to study T cells and how they work. I am still trying to understand why I am so attracted to this particular blood cell.

What brought you to this calling? I think this is an example of how seemingly random occurrences can change your life. When I was in college and still determining which profession I would enter, I changed my major from biochemistry to science education for one semester. About 10 minutes in a roomful of 7th graders was all it took to convince me to change my major back to biochemistry. I also found the core education courses boring. This misadventure (or, rather, valuable learning experience; I’ll never have to wonder if I should have taught children) was going to cost me an extra year of college, since I had missed a course that was only offered every second year. The chairman of our science department suggested that I substitute the missed course with a new course called Immunology. Although I had no idea what this science entailed, I enrolled. The instructor, Dr. Kim Gaither, was a fresh Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and had completed her graduate studies in the lab of John Harley at OMRF. Although I didn’t learn about T cells in that introductory course, I found immunology fascinating. Dr. Gaither introduced me to Dr. Harley, and I eventually ended up obtaining my Ph.D. in his lab. Sadly, Kim died of breast cancer just over a year ago.

Biggest achievement: My biggest achievement was to generate a T cell receptor transgenic mouse. This involved a series of difficult steps that were completed by several talented people from my lab.

Proudest moment: I think my proudest moment was when I learned that I was going to be awarded with my first R01 grant from the NIH. This is a real milestone in a scientist’s career.

Biggest hurdle you’ve overcome: I can’t single out just one… there are so many. The biggest challenge in the life of a scientist is to avoid getting discouraged when the experimental results are bad or when you have papers and grants get rejected. You just have to keep exploring and stay self-motivated. It’s a constant battle.

Something people should know about you that isn’t on your resume: I run better on espresso.

Life’s motto: Finish what you start. This was one from my mother that has stuck with me.

Your inspiration: One of my inspirations is Kim Gaither. She demonstrated excellence in all areas of her life: professional, family and spiritual.

Prefer teamwork or flying solo? Achievements and struggles are two things that are better shared.

Art person or business person: I have always been drawn to art more than business.

If you burned out tomorrow, what would you do? I would go back to being a post-doc. Post-docs get to do science full-time in a more focused way without having to deal with the headaches of fundraising and management.

Ways you plan to self-improve: I aspire to become more organized and to be more flexible in my thinking.

Advice for the next generation: Do at least one thing every day that will get you closer to your goal.

Yourself, in three words: Determined, understanding and stubborn (I’m working on it)


Charity/volunteer work: I help out at my church whenever I can.

How you spend downtime: Taking my daughter to baton twirling competitions, watching my son play T-ball or skateboard, and camping with my family. Time for myself is rare, but when I get it, I enjoy reading and watching movies.

Passions and diversions: Right now I am meeting with a small group of people on an irregular basis for the purpose of discussing science and religion. This has been really inspiring, since the group is incredibly diverse. It is made of “science people” with totally different backgrounds and beliefs, including people who do and do not believe in a higher being.

Stress relievers: Going to dinner or watching movies with my husband.


What’s next? There are two major types of immunity that are non-mutually exclusive: innate and antigen-specific. I have been studying antigen-specific immunity most of my career. Next, my laboratory will be working to understand how innate immunity impacts T cell function.

What you’re working for: I want to use my mouse models to learn something new about how T cells work and apply that knowledge to the human situation.

A dream you know will happen: I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before autoimmune diseases will be cured and prevented. My goal is to contribute to the knowledge base that will make this happen.

How you’ll make your mark: My mark will be made with a transgenic mouse model that we (the great people in my lab) have made in which all of the mouse’s T cells recognize a common self protein that is an autoimmune target in lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. This is something I have been working towards for seven years. This model will help us understand what biological pathways prevent most people from getting autoimmune diseases like these.


Shannon Thompson, 34
Click here for a video interview
Principal, Fairview Elementary, Moore Schools
Hometown: Oklahoma City
Education: B.A., elementary education, Oklahoma Christian University; M.A., elementary administration, University of Central Oklahoma


Most known for: I am most known for my positive and upbeat attitude, which I try to maintain in every situation.

Your true calling: I believe that my true calling is working with all types of children to ensure their safety, education, and overall well-being.

What brought you to this calling? My mother was a teacher and administrator and it has been what I wanted to since grade school.  I feel like God has opened many doors that have enabled me to fulfill my calling.

Biggest achievement: My biggest achievement is being a wife to my husband, Ken, and a mother to my two young daughters, Faith and Hope.

Proudest moment: My proudest moments are those involving my personal children and their accomplishments.  I also beam with pride when former students contact me with success stories of their own!

Biggest hurdle you’ve overcome: Invoking change through positive and trusting relationships and creating a shared vision of positive school climate and student achievement, which resulted in raised test scores from an API of 1172 to 1410 in two years. 

Something people should know about you that isn’t on your resume: My husband used to own an auto repossession company and I was known for a few years as “the repo chick.”

Life’s motto: You make your own weather!  In other words, don’t let other people or events control your mind set, emotions or attitudes.

Your inspiration: My inspirations change as my time of life evolves and unfolds into new directions.

Prefer teamwork or flying solo? In education, you accomplish more and work much more efficiently when collaborating with a team.

Art person or business person: I have NO creative abilities.  I am definitely a business person.

If you burned out tomorrow, what would you do? I would probably apply to law school.

Ways you plan to self-improve: I enjoy attending conferences that have to do with school leadership and learning styles.  I try to take advantage of as many professional development opportunities as possible and plan on continuing to be a part of professional organizations. 

Advice for the next generation:  Always look at trails in life as new learning opportunities.  Try to maintain balance in your life as you juggle family, church, self, career and civic responsibilities. 

Yourself, in three words:  Personable, balanced and reflective


Charity/volunteer work: I volunteer on a limited basis at my church and children’s school.  I would love to find time to do more active in an outside charitable group.

How you spend downtime: Most of my time is spent with my family and participating in all my daughters’ activities.  I do enjoy baking and reading when I find a few moments to myself.  I try to meet with groups of friends who are also mothers at least once a month for “sanity” time.

Passions and diversions: My passions are children, learning and spending time with my family.

Stress relievers: Time to myself for reflection and meditation.


What’s next?  I will eventually begin to work on a Ph.D.  However, career-wise, I am very content continuing to lead Fairview Elementary to bigger and better things! 

What you’re working for:  I want to be a positive role model for my personal children and the children I work with each day.

How you’ll make your mark:  I hope that when the thousands of children I have been responsible for throughout the years think back on me they will smile knowing I loved them and always had their best interests in mind with each decision I made.  I want them to remember me smiling, laughing, and living a full life.

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Tue, 22 Apr 2008 12:04:00 CDT 6fda7927-33cc-411a-a434-f69f3c002c7f
Arts and Sciences Dean's Award recipients Dr. David Lowry, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, announces the recipients of this year’s Dean’s Award.  The Dean’s Award is given at the end of the school year to recognize outstanding students from each department.  A small reception for faculty, family, and friends was held on Friday, April 11, at 4:00 p.m. to honor these students. 

Art & Design
The Art & Design Department has selected two recipients to receive the 2008 Dean’s Award.  The first recipient is Jacob Berkin.  Jacob is a senior ART BFA major.  He exemplifies strong leadership in the department, and students often seek and trust his fair and open-minded insights.  Jacob is always willing to lend a hand and help in order to get a project done.  He is a person of action who has started a company with some friends.  He maintains a positive outlook is a hard worker. 

The second recipient is Whitney Parker.  Whitney is a senior Graphic Design/Illustration major; she is a talented and gifted artist and designer. Aside from school and her participation in Pi Zeta Phi service club, Whitney has been instrumental in the creation and development of Wishing Well, a non profit organization that uses art and other creative means to raise money for clean water wells in Africa. She has a heart for helping others; she also is a leader in the department, an organizer, and motivator. She is always upbeat, has a positive outlook and is very hard-working.

The Biology Department is pleased to recognize Cassandra Tyler as the Dean’s Award winner.  Excellence is a rare commodity by definition and Cassie Tyler pursues excellence in both her academic and athletic endeavors.  She has been named an NAIA Scholar Athlete and placed on ESPN the Magazine’s Academic All-America College Division soccer team for 2006 and 2007.  Cassie was awarded the Perry Don McBroom Math and Science Scholarship and has been a member of the Alpha Chi honor society.  She has been a member of the Pi Zeta Phi social service club and studied abroad with the Vienna Studies Program in 2006.  In addition to her participation with the OC Soccer team, she has worked as a laboratory assistant in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center where she worked to crystallize trypanosomal RNA.  She will be starting medical school in the Fall of 2008.

Chemistry & Physics
Amelia Enix is receiving the Dean’s Award from the Chemistry and Physics Department.  Amelia is originally from the state of Florida, but more recently is from St. Louis, where she attended high school.  She will be graduating in December and hopes to attend graduate school to study physical chemistry beginning in the Fall of 2009.  She has particular interest in Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Oxford University in England.  Amelia is also interested in exploring pharmacy and will be working as a pharmacy technician after graduating from OC and before graduate school.  She has served as a Teaching Assistant in General Chemistry and has co-authored a toxicology informational article with Dr. Luttrell that will be published in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety.

The Dean’s Award for Communication goes to Dacia Dodson.  As a broadcast journalism major, Dacia served as a reporter and the assignment editor for the campus news station, Eagle Angle.  Outside the classroom, she participated in a number of activities including the service club Pi Zeta Phi and Relay for Life.  Dacia serves as The National Broadcast Society’s Vice President of Fundraising for the OC chapter.  In the summer of 2007, she was given the opportunity to intern at The Oklahoman in the Multi-Media Department and currently is employed as a full-time online editor.  Dacia is graduating Magna Cum Laude at the end of April and plans to continue her education, earning a masters degree in business or communication.

History & Political Science
The Dean’s Award for History and Political Science goes to Elaine Ekpo.  Elaine is one of the Honors students and a History/Pre-law major, who will graduate in December, 2008.  She spent the 2007 fall term at Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University as part of the CCCU Scholars’ Semester in Oxford.  During that very rigorous term, she researched and wrote a number of papers, earning excellent marks in the process.  A member of Phi Alpha Theta, she presented a paper at the Phi Alpha Theta Oklahoma Regional Conference last year and presented one of her Oxford papers at the same conference on Saturday, March 8.  She is planning on attending law school in her home state of California.

Language & Literature
Paul Mitchell is the recipient of the Dean’s Award for the Language and Literature Department and is a most deserving student.  He has been published twice this year, has been accepted to and attended the national Sigma Tau Delta Conference three years in a row.  Paul served as Writing Center Director this year, and has been a Writing Center tutor for 3 years.  He was an assistant editor for the Language and Literature Department’s publication, Soundings, for three years and for “Skinny Voice” for two years.  Paul has directed and acted in many theater productions while maintaining a high GPA.  We are proud to call him a graduate of the Language & Literature Department.

Adam Bruce is the recipient of the Music Award.  Adam has served as the Oklahoma Christian University Symphonic Band President from 2006-2008, as the Symphonic Band Chaplain during 2005-2006, and he was named the Outstanding Band Member from 2005-2007.  Adam is also a member of the OC Jazz Ensemble, the Sweat Band, and the Percussion Ensemble.  During 2006-07, he was Kappa Sigma Tau’s Rush Director, and he has also been selected as a Whose Who Among American College Students recipient.  Adam’s numerous other activities include serving as the Spring Sing Band Director in 2006, playing in the Oklahoma Community Orchestra, performing in the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps and performing with OMEA Collegiate Honor Band in 2006 and 2008.  He is also a Gateway World Percussion Adjunct Instructor and a Marching and Concert Band instructor/arranger for Edmond Memorial High School.  He received the Joni Rice Memorial Percussion Award in 2006 and is a member of the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society for Education Majors.  His honors in 2005 include being named as the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps Outstanding Percussionist, performing with the College Band Directors National Association Intercollegiate Small College Honor Band at Lincoln Center in NYC, being named the Redbud Jazz Festival Outstanding Soloist, and being selected as Oklahoma Christian University’s Outstanding Freshman Music Major in 2004-2005.  He is scheduled to graduate in December 2008.

Christy Hallock is a Senior Nursing major at Oklahoma Christian University and is the receiver of the Dean’s Award from Nursing.  This is Christy’s second degree at Oklahoma Christian.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Biology in 2005.  While earning her first degree at Oklahoma Christian, Christy was involved in the social service club of Gamma Rho, where she served as Rush director in 2004 and as Vice President in 2005.  After the 2005 fall semester, Christy made the decision to continue with Oklahoma Christian in their efforts to build their own Nursing Program, and she was accepted into Oklahoma Christian’s first nursing class in the summer of 2006.  She was voted Class President by her peers and serves her class and the faculty as a connection between the two.  She, along with other officers, have been raising money and planning for Oklahoma Christian’s Inaugural Pinning Ceremony for the past year and a half.  She is currently employed by OU Medical Center at The Children’s Hospital on the Surgical Unit as a Nurse Partner.  After graduation, Christy plans on working for The Children’s Hospital on the Surgical Unit.  Christy states that her decision to come back to Oklahoma Christian for Nursing School has definitely been guided and blessed by God. 

Psychology and Family Studies
Mikiko Imura’s home is in Sapporo, which is located in the northern island of Japan.  She first came to Oklahoma four years ago to study business at UCO, but she transferred to OC in the spring of 2006.  When Mikiko took Psychology to fulfill her general education requirement, she soon realized how interested she was in the subject.  She is a member of Psi Chi, the Psychology Club.  Mikiko reports none of her family members have had the experience of studying abroad; none of them even know what Psychology is, so it is a great wonder to her that she is at OC, majoring in psychology. Even though her family members don’t know about psychology, they are very supportive of Mikiko achieving an education, and she really appreciates their support.  After Mikiko graduates this summer, she plans to work for one year and then go to a graduate school to study environmental psychology.

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Tue, 15 Apr 2008 12:04:00 CDT 225ed5d9-61ae-4dc4-b8f8-dd8ae516d5cd