A Publication of Connors State College
V O L U M E
Connors State Commencement
N U M B E R
C O N N O R S S TAT E C O L L E G E W ARNER CAMPUS 700 College Road Warner, OK 74469
Inside this issue V O L U M E
N U M B E R
T H R E E R IV E R S PORT CAMPUS 2501 N 41st St E Muskogee, OK 74403
A D M I N I S T R AT I O N PRESID ENT Dr. Ronald S. Ramming I N T E R IM V IC E PRESID ENT FOR ACADEMIC AFFAIRS Dr. Julie Dinger V IC E PRESID ENT FOR FISCAL SERVICES Mike Lewis
CONNECTION LA Y OUT & D ESIGN Jonathan Dallis C ONT RIBUT ORS Cindy Anderson Dr. Ryan Blanton Wayne Bunch Jonathan Dallis Lori Palmer Stacy Pearce
3 COMMUNITY 8 C O W B OY FA M I LY 10 E D U C AT I O N 13 AT H L E T I C S 16 C A M P U S L I F E 18 F E AT U R E
R am m i ng N am ed 17t h P res ident of C onnors S t at e C ol lege • C om m enc ement • O gdon Fam ily M us eum O pens P LC R ec ognizes Law E nforc em ent • H am r i c & W hit lock I nduc t ed t o A l umni H al l of Fam e Meet Anderson, Harr is, & Whitlock • S ec ond C hanc e Pel l P rogram • E m pl oyee R ec ogni t ion Awards • K i m ber ly P hillips R ec ei ves S c hol ar s hip Connors Pins 31 New Nurses • A g Leaders hip P rogram • S t udent s V is it C api t ol for O H LA P A nni vers ar y • S t udy A broad Travels t o I t al y Aver y Signs with Loyola • H ar t nes s S igns w i t h U C O • Keit h F inds S uc c es s wit h D i vers e R os t er
Sexual Assault Awareness Month • Dennis Keit h R em em bered • C ow boy M usic Fes t
Connors State College, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, crime statistics for both the Warner and Muskogee campuses may be reviewed at http://connorsstate.edu/asr. This publication was printed and issued by Connors State College as authorized by the Director of College and Community Relations. The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination or endorsement is intended by Connors State College.
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Dr. Ron Ramming Named 17th President of Connors State College
he A&M Board of Regents selected Dr. Ron Ramming as the President of Connors State College. He will serve as CSC’s 17th president. Ramming has served as the Interim President of CSC since last summer. The regents voted unanimously to select Ramming as the next leader for CSC. “Dr. Ramming has enjoyed a distinguished career at Connors for over 26 years,” said Lou Watkins, Chair of the A&M Board. “Dr. Ramming is committed to Connors and his breadth of experience gives us high confidence in his ability to lead Connors State College. He is student focused and dedicated to student success. We look forward to working with Dr. Ramming in our mutual desire to see Connors continue to excel.” The appointment follows a six-month search conducted by a 19-member Presidential Search Committee comprised of key CSC constituents. The search committee unanimously recommended Ramming for consideration by the Board of Regents. A&M Regent Calvin Anthony, Chair of the CSC Presidential Search Committee, shared his thoughts on the search process, “We had several quality applicants for the position, but Ron stood out as the best person to lead Connors. He laid out interesting and insightful ideas for the future of the college. His admiration for Connors and his desire to make it even better came through in his interview. We are very pleased with his selection.” “I am humbled by the confidence
the board has placed in me,” said Dr. Ramming. “I am excited to continue serving the great faculty, staff and students at Connors State College.” Dr. Ramming has served in a variety of positions at CSC since coming to campus as an Agriculture Instructor and Assistant Livestock Judging Team Coach in 1990. Since that initial appointment, he has served as Interim President, Senior
Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services, Dean of Enrollment Services, and Director of Distance and Extended Education. Dr. Ramming obtained his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University, an M.S. from the University of Tennessee, a B.S. from Oklahoma State University, and an A.S. from Connors State College. CONNORS CONNECTION
Connors State Graduates More Than 350 During Spring Commencement Ceremony
onnors State College recently celebrated its 108th graduating class awarding more than 350 certificates and degrees. “We are very proud of our students,” said Registrar Kwanna King. “They have worked hard and have met all of the requirements for graduation.” The Commencement Ceremony was held May 5, 2017, at the Muskogee Civic Center. Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, chief executive officer for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, was the keynote speaker and imparted excellent words of wisdom to the graduates. Johnson spoke of the memories he has
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in Muskogee, graduating in the Civic Center in 1972 from Muskogee High School, and the importance of how “good choices” can drastically impact your future and career. “More than 55 percent of the graduates here tonight are first generation graduates, so you have already made a wonderful choice, because you chose to pursue higher education and attend Connors State College,” said Johnson. “As graduates this evening you are beginning your life as a professional, and you have been provided a solid foundation upon which you can build a lifetime of learning.” Lori Palmer, the 2017 Faculty of the Year, proudly led the procession carrying
the college mace, which is embedded with CSC history. Connors President Dr. Ron Ramming was Master of Ceremonies for the evening, in his first official commencement ceremony as President, while Brady Womack, SGA President, and Regent Trudy Milner of the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents both welcomed the crowd and offered congratulations to graduates. Also representing the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents were Regent Rick Davis, and Jason Ramsey, chief executive officer for the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents. To watch the commencement ceremony in its entirety, or to learn about the many degree options, please visit www.connorsstate.edu.
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Ogdon Family Connors State College Museum Opens
he official opening of the Ogdon Family Connors State College Museum in the north wing of Russell Hall was held on Saturday, April 29, 2017. The museum, curated by Dr. Ryan Blanton and Stacy Pearce, through the generosity of the Ogdon family, features historical displays of Connors State throughout the past 109 years. Together with his family, Ogdon identified a need for a museum dedicated to the history of Connors State College, and donated the necessary funding to accomplish the task. Once Russell Hall – an offline dormitory on the Warner Campus – renovations were complete, the wheels began to turn for the
museum’s development. Because the square footage was limited to one wing of Russell Hall, but the history was broad, one objective of the museum was to incorporate free standing kiosks for visitors to browse a plethora of information and photos at their leisure. The kiosks access a new website, connorsgiving.com, which also link three separate campus Halls of Fame and historical displays, and allow visitors to read inductee bios and history, view photos, and more. Another objective of the museum was to be a new home for the Alumni & Friends Association Hall of Fame inductee plaques,
which were all-but-forgotten on the wall of a library entrance. The museum also incorporates a display for recognition of employees who had provided 10 or more years of service to the college. These individuals had been honored with plaques after their retirement, which, again, went unseen in the hallway of an administration building. The museum displays historical artifacts and photographs directly linked to the history of the college, to include influential faculty and staff, letterman jackets and athletic jerseys, trophies, farm implements, campus newspapers, and more.
Connors State President’s Leadership Class Recognizes Muskogee County Law Enforcement
he President’s Leadership Class of Connors State College recognized Muskogee County law enforcement officers on Thursday, April 13, 2017, in the Nursing and Allied Health Auditorium on the Muskogee Three Rivers Port Campus. Bobby Ramming, PLC President, said the students wanted to host the law enforcement appreciation reception to show local and state officers that the staff and students at Connors State truly appreciate them and the incredible work they do. The recognized men and women included: Kermit Thomas III, Haskell Police Department;
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Jimmy Moore, Muskogee Police Department; Lincoln Anderson, Muskogee Police Department; Tiffany Yarbrough, Fort Gibson Police Department; Josh Lawson, Oklahoma Highway Patrol; James Mendenhall, Connors State College Police Chief, Warner Police Department; Joe Poffel, Muskogee Police Department; James Poffel, Muskogee Police Department. The students of PLC took time to reach out to the recognized officer’s superiors and asked them to provide a biography of the officer, a photo and any and all warm-wishes they would like to give the officers.
The students then read aloud the biography of the officers being recognized and handed them a certificate of appreciation and posed for a photo. Mike Jackson, Dean of Students, expressed his appreciation for the students and the event. “These law enforcement professionals are who make our communities safe and prosperous,” said Jackson. “Our PLC students made a genuine effort to recognize these officers and the PLC wants to do this event annually and grow it for surrounding counties.” Jamie Trennepohl is the PLC sponsor.
Hamric and Whitlock Inducted Into Alumni Hall of Fame
n Saturday, April 29, 2017, Connors State College hosted its annual Alumni and Friends Banquet and Reunion. More than 75 alumni, friends, staff and students attended the event in the A.D. Stone Student Union on the Warner Campus. “The reunion is a time to share memories, see new developments on campus, and to honor exceptional alumni,” said Dr. Ryan Blanton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs. Each year at the Banquet and Reunion, extraordinary alumni are inducted into the Connors State College Alumni Hall of Fame. Jim Hamric and Jerry Whitlock were the 2017 honorees. Jim Hamric, a football recruit of coach Harold Cagle, attended Connors State College in 1965-1967 and was selected to the All-Conference Team after the 1966 season. Hamric, a native of Spencer, West Virginia, graduated from Northeastern State University in 1969 with a degree in education. In college, Hamric was a student of Oklahoma high school and college athletics, beginning with observations of
the interaction and camaraderie of his Connors’ coaches. Ater graduation, Hamric returned to West Virginia and immediately entered the high school coaching arena. During a 29-year-career, Hamric coached football, wrestling, track, cross country, basketball, baseball and served as Athletic Director. In 1992, he was selected as West Virginia High School Coach of the Year. Early in Hamric’s career, he led a movement to improve the West Virginia High School Coaches’ Association as well as the West Virginia High School Athletic Director’s Association, to mirror the programs he observed while in Oklahoma. Inspired by the Oklahoma programs, Hamric’s leadership changed the West Virginia programs into noted national programs. Jerry Whitlock founded Whitlock Packaging after acquiring a closed and insolvent juice manufacturer in 1979. Through creative strategic partnering, Whitlock become the largest contract manufacturer of branded non-carbonated beverages in North America. Whitlock Packaging Corporation was twice the size
of its nearest competitor. Being a true believer in “giving back to the community,” Whitlock donated the Whitlock Sports Complex in Fort Gibson. At the grand opening, 1,200 children took the field. Other land donations were made to three Oklahoma towns, including monetary donations to numerous organizations such as civic clubs, churches, school educational programs and disaster relief assistance. Whitlock also donated the Whitlock Guest House in Muskogee, OK to Women in Safe Home (WISH), a non-profit organization. Whitlock Wishhouse today is used as a fundraising vehicle. All money collected supports the WISH shelters to house and support battered women, children and their recovery. Other prominent alumni and friends also attended to support the inductees, catch up with old acquaintances, and to meet with faculty and students. Students from the President’s Leadership Class provided tours of campus and reminded alumni of one of the most important reasons for their organization – to raise money for the Alumni and Friends Scholarship Fund.
Cindy Anderson, Staff
indy Anderson, Executive Assistant to the President, has been part of the Connors State family for five years. Anderson worked at NEO as Administrative Assistant for Dr. Tim Faltyn, who at the time, was Vice President for Academic Affairs. After Dr. Faltyn became president of Connors State College an open position for his Executive Assistant became available, and he encouraged Anderson to consider working with him in Warner. “Dr. Faltyn and I had a very successful working relationship and I was ready for a life
change, so I took the leap and moved from the only town I had ever lived in to Warner,” said Anderson. Anderson attended public school in the very small town of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, a town of nearly 335, so moving to Warner was a lot like going back to her roots. “I love being able to look outside my window and see the historic barn and livestock and although I live in Muskogee now, it is a beautiful 30 minute commute through the rolling hills and valleys,” said Anderson. Anderson said working at Connors has given her the opportunity to do what she loves most, helping people. “My careers have all been in a support role and I really do find enjoyment in giving a helping hand,” said Anderson. “I enjoy being a support and resource for the faculty and staff as well as the students that I come in contact with.” Anderson said one aspect of the college she truly admires is just about every single faculty and staff member tries to support the students through the good and the not so good as they navigate their way through
young adulthood. “Connors faculty and staff care about the students and work tirelessly to provide a quality learning experience for them,” said Anderson. “They believe learning happens everywhere and some of the students are launching out on their own for the first time and have many life lessons to learn. “ What many may not know, Anderson’s first career was as a dental assistant, where she worked in dental offices either assisting or in the front office for the first 20 years of her working career. Now, Anderson and her husband are very active in their church and both work in the children’s department and she sings in the choir. “We went on a mission trip to Ecuador in 2015 and are planning another mission trip to Africa this August,” said Anderson. “I work with the medical mission team helping provide dental care at a free health clinic. “I am looking forward to becoming a grandmother for the first time in about two weeks and plan to make a lot of trips to Joplin, Missouri for plenty of snuggle time,” said Anderson.
Raychel Harris, Student
aychel Harris is entering her second year at Connors State College with a clear career-path in mind, she plans to work in Business Administration and the college is helping her in more ways than one. Harris is currently enrolled as a Business Administration major, which is helping her learn the fundamentals of the business world, but after class she works in the admissions office on the Warner campus, where she is gaining real-world, first-hand experience. In her senior year at Webbers Falls high school, Harris graduated as salutatorian and began thinking about her future and chose Connors State College for a number of good reasons. The college is close to her home in Porum, Oklahoma, and offers a wide variety of courses for her to broaden her mind, 10
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including business courses, which will help her start and eventually further her career. But more importantly than simply the location of the college, Connors State has deep roots in her family’s lives. Her father and sister both attended Connors State and she will be the third in her household to proudly earn a degree as a Cowboy. “I’ve worked hard to achieve my goal of graduating early from Connors State with my Business Administration degree,” said Harris. “It’s been challenging, but I successfully have maintained a full-time job along with being a full-time student. My plan for life after Connors is to continue working in admissions and further my degree in business administration. This college has offered me with a job without already having a degree, so I’m getting an
early start on future savings, said Harris.” In high school, Harris was active in the Ag world and showed heifers and received her State FFA Farmers Degree. Now, she has started to raise her own herd of Charolais, and lives on a farm with horses, cattle, goats and chickens.
Jerry Whitlock, Alumnus
n 1979, Jerry Whitlock founded Whitlock Packaging after acquiring a closed and insolvent juice manufacturer. Through creative strategic partnering, Whitlock become the largest contract manufacturer of branded non-carbonated beverages in North America. Whitlock Packaging Corporation was twice
the size of its nearest competitor. Under his leadership, the company achieved significant growth through acquisitions, production facility expansion, product innovation and increased volume from major clients such as PepsiCo, Coke, Nestle, Arizona Tea, Campbell Soup, Ocean Spray, Lipton, Jumex, Goya, Apple & Eve, Monster, Rockstar, Gold Peak Tea, Pure Leaf Tea and Vitamin Water. Whitlock Packaging Corporation received a coveted Oklahoma “Industrial Development Award” along with others such as “The Minute Maid Company Award of Excellence” and the “PepsiCo Strategic Partner Award.” In 1987 and 1991, he was a member of the American People Ambassador program which was founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Whitlock represented the delegation in the category of Food and Packaging Technology. In 2004, he acquired Juice Bowl, a trusted 50-year-old brand serving schools and government feeding programs. In 2007 he created Cutting Edge Beverages, and in 2016,
he sold Whitlock Packaging to Refresco, the leading European bottler of soft drinks and fruit juices. Being a true believer in “giving back to the community,” Whitlock donated the Whitlock Sports Complex in Fort Gibson. At the grand opening, 1,200 children took the field. Other land donations were made to three Oklahoma towns, including monetary donations to numerous organizations such as civic clubs, churches, school educational programs and disaster relief assistance. Whitlock also donated the Whitlock Guest House in Muskogee, OK to Women in Safe Home (WISH), a non-profit organization. Whitlock Wishhouse today is used as a fundraising vehicle. All money collected supports the WISH shelters to house and support battered women, children and their recovery. To date, he has travelled to and explored 117 countries with the desire to visit all 197 undisputed countries in the world. Jerry Whitlock’s philosophy is, “Success is the ability to overcome disappointment.”
Second Chance Pell Program
uring the summer of 2016, the Department of Education announced Connors State College was selected to participate in the new Second Chance Pell pilot program, an experiment to test whether participation in high quality education programs increases after expanding access to financial aid for incarcerated individuals. The pilot program allowed eligible incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants and pursue postsecondary education with the goal of helping them get jobs and support their families when they are released. Connors State has partnered with local correctional centers since the late 1990’s offering Business Administration and General Studies degrees to the men and women
incarcerated at Jess Dunn and Eddie Warrior Correctional Centers in Taft, Oklahoma. Dr. Ryan Blanton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs, Jody Butler, Muskogee Campus Administrator and Coordinator of Students with Disabilities, Mattie English, Director of Financial Aid, and Beverly Wilcoxon, Financial Aid Counselor, have worked extensively with the partner facilities to make the new pilot program available to those interested in pursuing higher education. Enrollment numbers for incarcerated students increased substantially and contributed to an increase in Connors State’s overall enrollment for fall 2016 and spring 2017. Challenges remain for the young pilot program, but early indicators would seem to
predict a rewarding experience for students and the institutions participating in the program. Connors State is one of 67 college across the U.S. selected to participate in the pilot program. “This is a program that will truly change lives for the better,” said Dr. Ron Ramming, President of Connors State College. Ramming was instrumental in starting the partnership with the correctional facilities nearly two decades ago. The Second Chance Pell Program was named the 2016-17 Distinguished Recognition Award winner during the employee recognition ceremony, held on the Warner campus.
Outstanding Employees Recognized During Ceremony
n Wednesday, April 26, 2017, Connors State recognized the valuable employees who make the college. Nate Walker, Director of Human Resources, served as emcee for the event held in the LLC auditorium on the Warner campus. “These are trying times for the college,” said Walker. “Nevertheless, our work is vitally important not only for the state, but for the individual lives that we touch. Our work really does ‘build futures one at a time’ and we cannot say thank you loud enough, or often enough to our people for being a part of this institution and the difference you make to the college.” The event began with Walker having
everyone in the audience stand in correspondence with the number of years served with the college, ranging from less than one to more than 35. Followed by a recognition ceremony where employees were invited on stage to shake hands with Dr. Ron Ramming, Connors State College President, and receive a commemorative pin, certificate of achievement, or a payroll stipend. Mike Lewis, Vice President of Fiscal Services, then approached the stage to assist with the presentation, speaking on the career of Dr. Ramming, having served 25 years at Connors State College. Ramming was presented with a framed photo of himself and Connor, the Cowboys mascot.
The event then transitioned to an Impact awards ceremony, where Walker and a committee worked diligently to collect nominees and award departments and staff for their hard work within the institution. Sandy Gandy, Institutional Research Programmer and Analyst, won the Impact award for Classified Employee; Heath Hodges, Director of Information Technology and Institutional Research, won for Professional Employee; the Second Chance Pell Program, Dr. Ryan Blanton, Jody Butler, Mattie English and Beverly Wilcoxon, won the Distinguished Recognition Award; and Lori Palmer was named as the 2017 Faculty of the Year.
Kimberly Phillips Receives Alida W. Parker Scholarship
imberly Phillips, Title III Native American Serving Non Tribal Institution Grant Project Director, received The Alida W. Parker Scholarship from The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. The honor Society for women educators promotes excellence in education and personal and
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professional growth of women educators, leading in the field of graduate scholarships given to members and emphasizing leadership development for its more than 70,000 members in 17 countries. A member of the Society’s Epsilon Chapter in Oklahoma, Phillips is attending the University of Oklahoma, where she is majoring in Instructional Leadership/Academic Curriculum. Riitta-Liisa Arpiainen of Finland, International Scholarship Committee Chairman, announced the recipients following the committee’s recent meeting at Society Headquarters in Austin, Texas. “We granted nine Scholarships of $10,000 each for the 2017-2018 academic year,” said Arpiainen. Recipients must have earned a Bachelor’s Degree, be enrolled in a recognized graduate program and have been a Society member for at least three years to qualify for scholarship consideration. Since its scholarship program
began in 1940, The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International has given 1109 women educators $4 million in scholarships. In addition to the international scholarships, many state organizations and local chapters have scholarship funds to assist members pursuing graduate study. In 2016 all three levels of the Society provided approximately $454,544.02 in scholarships for members. The honor organization of key women educators was formed in Austin, Texas, on May 11, 1929, by Dr. Annie Webb Blanton from a nucleus of 12 founders representing all levels of education, kindergarten through university, from various parts of Texas. Professor of rural education at the University of Texas, Dr. Blanton was elected president of the Texas State Teachers’ Association in 1916, the first woman to hold the office. Blanton was also the first woman to serve Texas as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, having been elected to that post in 1918.
Connors State Pins 31 New Nursing Graduates
onnors State College celebrated the graduation of 31 new nurses in a pinning and candle lighting ceremony held May 5, 2017, in the Fine Arts Auditorium on the Warner Campus. Graduates were pinned by a faculty member or friend of their choice, and provided with a Bible courtesy of the Gideon’s International Auxiliary. “The ceremony signifies the student’s official initiation into the brotherhood and sisterhood of nurses,” said Joyce Johnson, Division Chair for Nursing & Allied Health. “The ceremony is rich with symbolism. It is the right of passage which can be traced all the way back to the twelfth century.” The modern ceremony dates back to the 1860’s, when Florence Nightingale was
awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition for her diligent service to the injured during the Crimean War. To share the honor, she in turn presented a medal of excellence to her brightest graduate. By 1916, the practice of pinning new graduates was standard throughout the United States. Johnson began the ceremony by welcoming the audience, made of dedicated family, staff members, and peers of the nursing graduates. Followed by a memorial resolution in the memory of June Cope, given on behalf of the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents to her family by Connors State College President Dr. Ron Ramming. John Baker gave the invocation, while student speakers Whitney Ousley and
Amanda Elfezzazi gave prepared remarks about the classes’ journey together, followed by the benediction from Alta Hayes. Spring 2017 Graduates: John Baker, Amy Campbell, Lee M. Coleman, Amanda Elfezzazi, Kelsey Griffith, Alta Hayes, Adam Hine, Francis Ray Hofschulte, Amanda Hopkins, Tabitha Kidd, Kendra R. Leigh, Veronica Lleverino, Mikaela McGrew, Ariel D. McIntosh, Brittany Mazey, Luis Navarro, Heather Whitney Ousley, Amanda Pack, Lorrie Patty, Amanda Resecker, Melanie Risenhoover, Kay Rogers, Star Sapulpa, Gwen Smith, Sandra Staton, Petra Martinez Tapia, De Anna Thomas, Makala Tillery, Chloie Ward, Shelby C. Winters, Nicole Workman.
OSU partners with two-year colleges to offer Agricultural Leadership Degree Completion Program
ometimes life gets in the way of finishing through on certain goals and aspirations. This is true, too, for academic achievements. A bachelor’s degree completion program in Agricultural Leadership offered through Oklahoma State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is hoping to help remedy this and address some of the more pressing upcoming issues for the workforce in our state. The Agricultural Leadership Degree Completion Program is a partnership between OSU and three Oklahoma two-year colleges; Connors State College, Warner; Murray State College, Tishomingo; and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Miami. “By 2020, 59 percent of jobs in Oklahoma will require a career certificate or college degree, however, only 30 percent of Oklahoma adults have an associate degree or higher,” said Penny Weeks, project director and professor in OSU’s Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership. “The resulting skills gap of 29 percent, as reported by Complete College
America, requires college and universities to address the problem of degree completion.” While the need to fill the skills gap is addressed through this program, there also is a certain level of importance put on developing the agricultural workforce. The project is designed to improve fouryear degree completion rates for place-bound students wanting a B.S. in agricultural leadership from OSU. There will be a mix of online, satellite, short and blended courses, offered to students enrolled in the program. “Place-bound could be any number of things. ‘I have a fulltime job and I don’t want to lose it, but I want to finish my degree. I’m married with kids and can’t move to Stillwater,’” said Bill Weeks, primary advisor for the students in the program and professor in AECL. “We think we will have some parttime students, some full-time students, others who are taking courses concurrently, so we’re trying to accommodate a variety of situations.” Students must complete 60 hours of coursework through their two-year school, be on track to earn their associates degree and complete 60 hours of coursework at OSU.
“The Agricultural Leadership program already offers many of its required courses in an online or short course format and is positioned to move to a program serving students throughout the region in collaboration with two-year colleges,” said Cynda Clary, CASNR associate dean. “This new and innovative degree completion program will provide a valuable service in the food and agricultural sciences to citizens across the state of Oklahoma and beyond.” A $270,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grant funds the program, which embodies the land-grant mission of improving the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and Extension. The grant was awarded in 2016 and will continue through 2019. “Our students will now have the capability to finish what they started at CSC,” said Debby Golden, Connors State College Agriculture Division Chair. “Sometimes life interrupts our plans. This is a new opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree without a move to Stillwater.”
CSC Students and Staff Visit Capitol for OHLAP Anniversary
ore than 200 students, faculty, representatives from Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities, and other supporters gathered at the state Capitol on April 18, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program, to show appreciation for the Governor and Legislature’s ongoing support of the program, and to encourage legislators to continue to fund the program. Formerly known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), Oklahoma’s Promise was created in 1992 by the state Legislature to help more Oklahoma families send their children to college.
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Students and Staff Study Abroad in Italy
onnors State students, faculty, and staff traveled to Italy as part of the study abroad program during the second week of May. The travelers visited Rome, Florence, and Venice interacting with the culture and observing the rich history on the tours. Lori Palmer, Humanities Instructor, is on the Global Education Committee and was instrumental in the organization of the trip. “In Rome we group toured, Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Trajan’s Column, the Jewish Quarter, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Vatican museum, St. Peter’s
Basilica, and the ancient Roman Forum, among many other wonderful places,” said Palmer. “There were many highlights and tours of locations from these cities, and enough free time that the students and I could go to any particular locations that interested us.” Palmer said 15 in total attended the trip with Connors State. Eight students took the Humanities course for credit, while many simply went for the once in a lifetime experience. Along with the Connors State tour group, Francesco Restuccia, a local Roman and PhD. Student acted as their guide. “In Florence we toured the Galleria
dell’Accademia and the Uffizi Gallery,” said Palmer. “There were several who climbed inside of Brunelleschi’s famous Dome of the Florence Cathedral. In Venice, we enjoyed time at Piazza San Marco often known in English as St Mark’s Square, while many did individual tours and gondola rides.” “The study abroad program is such a wonderful way to immerse yourself in another culture while learning about the history, art, architecture and people from the very locations where they happened,” said Palmer. “Students will reflect on this experience all their lives and many expressed that it was absolutely life changing.”
Athletics Adarius Avery signs to Loyola University
onnors State sophomore Adarius Avery has signed a NCAA D-1 National Letter of Intent with Loyola University Chicago it was announced by Cowboys head coach Bill Muse. Avery will be joining Ramblers head coach Porter Moser of the Missouri Valley Conference this fall for the 2017-18 season. During the 2016-17 season, Avery ranked second in the nation with 24.1 points per game, while leading the Cowboys to a 26-7 record, Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference and Region II Championship, advancing to the NJCAA National Tournament and a Sweet 16 appearance. “Adarius is a dynamic athlete who brings a ton of versatility both offensively and defensively,” Moser said. He has an extremely quick first step and has a knack to get by you and finish plays at or above the rim. In addition, he averaged double-figure rebounds (18 times), which is a need we have addressed in this recruiting class. Adarius
led the nation in getting to the foul line with 282 attempts this season and comes from a winning program at Connors State, where he led his team to the national tournament.” Avery blossomed into one of the top scorers in the nation this season at Connors State College, averaging 24.1 ppg, to go with 10.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. The 6-foot-5 guard shot 49 percent from the field and 71 percent from the foul line this season, scoring in double figures in all 34 games. Avery netted 30 or more points on eight occasions in 2016-17, and scored 40 points twice. He poured in a career-best 42 points against Eastern Oklahoma State College on March 2, and dropped 41 points on Seminole State College earlier in the season. He was named to the NJCAA Division I All-Tournament Team in 2016-17 and also collected First Team Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference, First Team All-Region II and NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American honors.
Megan Hartness Signs to UCO
onnors State sophomore Megan Hartness has signed an NCAA Division II National Letter of Intent with the University of Central Oklahoma, announced Cowgirls head coach Jamie Fisher. Hartness will be joining Broncho’s head coach Guy Hardaker this fall for the 2017-18 basketball season. Hartness said she chose UCO because she feels this is where she is supposed to go, and that she has always been drawn towards Edmond. “I’m really proud of her, she’s overcome a lot this past year,” said Fisher. “She transferred in from Henderson State, and now she’s
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headed to one of the best D-2’s in the country. I think it’s a great fit.” Hartness was an All-Region first team selection and All-Conference pick and in the running for newcomer of the year. Hartness averaged 11-points and fourassists per game, and was one of the leaders, who will be greatly missed at Connors State. “She was a cornerstone to the foundation of Cowgirls basketball,” said Fisher. With Hartness, the Cowgirls finished with a 19-9 mark, their best record in six seasons under head coach Jamie Fisher. The Cowgirls also qualified for the Region II Tournament for the first time in six years.
Keith Finds Success with Cowboys Diverse Roster
hey come on long flights, two-day drives, southbound Amtraks and short trips across the interstate. Some come with expensive pickup trucks, others with only a pair or two of jeans. They come to chase their dreams, to do what kids all over the world dream of doing – to play baseball. In the small town of Warner, Perry Keith Park is as diverse as it gets. “It’s a magical place,” says Head Coach Perry Keith, who has run the program 31 years and entered the season with a career record of 1,516-435. “I tell that to people all the time. They think I’m nuts. But it’s true.” Keith has built his program on big words such as Faith and Trust. His connections started years ago, when former Oklahoma State coach Gary Ward helped Keith make a contact in the Youth Service League in New York City. The same league produced players such as Manny Ramirez. The first prominent Latin player to come to Connors was named Benny Castillo. He went on to play at OSU, made Triple-A with the Detroit Tigers organization, then spent years managing in the Minor Leagues. Now he runs an academy in Florida, and he still helps young players get to Connors State.
“I have a lot of respect for these kids,” said Keith. “All of a sudden you go somewhere you know nothing about, and these guys are trusting some old white dude they’ve only talked to on the phone.” Players are willing to come to Connors because the name speaks for itself. Keith has coached five teams to the Junior College World Series, and his clubs are always in the running. He says he’s coached 11 big-leaguers and 120 draft picks — the biggest name is Julio Lugo. “We’ve been able to go back to the same place,” said Keith. “We can go in New York, and our name means something.” For the players, Connors provides a scholarship and a home. It gives them the opportunity to keep playing baseball, and for some, that’s all that matters. It’s a game that grips you that way. During the first meeting of every year, Keith makes sure to set the tone: You can learn a lot more from talking to your teammates than you will in a history book. On many mornings and evenings, Keith will lead what he calls Champions Class, where the players will go through books or talk about history. More than anything, it’s a way of learning about life, and
the discussions usually lead to learning about each other. Slowly, the players help each other learn their respective languages. Keith himself says he’s learned Spanish poco a poco, little by little. Keith also preaches a common message: No matter where you come from, there are good people and bad people, smart people and stupid people. Nothing brings people together quite like a common purpose, and there’s no common purpose quite like trying to win a ball game. Keith’s players are quick to admit he’s a hard-nosed coach. But it seems he also coaches in a way worthy of respect. “Everybody just thinks he’s baseball, baseball, baseball,” said Jake Northern. “He’s kind of like a father to us – He’s gonna have a thumb on you and not gonna let off, it shows we win 46 games a year.” A normal day at Connors is class, practice, gym, study hall, and then sleep. Baseball is a game of structure and routines, where progress, like trust, grows gradually. “We have guys who go on to play in $30 million stadiums,” said Keith. “But they’ll tell you these were the best two years of their lives.” CONNORS CONNECTION
Campus Life Connors State Takes Stand Against Sexual Assault
pril is Sexual Assault Awareness month and Connors State College took to new heights the way they promote awareness on each of the campuses in 2017. Throughout the month Dr. Julie Dinger, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, printed colorful teal signs which displayed facts of sexual assault on one side and a safety number to contact on the other. Signs were prominently displayed in common areas of the college. During the final week of April, Connors State College held a week filled with activism on the subject. On Monday, April 24, activists were encouraged to post on social media statistics and photos of themselves in protest in an event titled “This is What Activism Looks Like”, using the custom hashtag “#CSC1is2Many”, utilizing the popularity of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On Tuesday, April 25, both campuses held
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an event titled “Chalk Talk”, where all were encouraged to use sidewalk chalk to write positive and uplifting messages in defiance of sexual assault in the common areas. Chalk messages were written in the front of the Stone Student Union on the Warner campus and throughout all of the sidewalks of the Muskogee Three Rivers Port Campus. On Wednesday, April 26, Connors State faculty, staff, and students were invited to rally against sexual assault during “Take Back the Night”. On the Warner campus, activists made signs, banged drums, and marched around campus in defiance of the subject. The event began in the Warner Fine Arts Auditorium where Dr. Dinger addressed the crowd and “pumped them up” using a megaphone instead of a microphone telling all in attendance the truth of sexual assault. She walked through the crowds reading their custom signs. Following Dinger, a number of students took to the stage to tell their fellow
classmates to “man up” and to “know your surroundings”, shedding light on a sensitive subject with some humor, but mostly heart during the rally. The audience was then shown a heartfelt video of real college rape statistics using Connors State students, staff, and administration as the subjects. The video begins with students holding signs in a number of locations throughout both campuses with hard-hitting facts written on them, followed by CSC administration holding signs of positivity. The positive signs read “You’re Not Alone”, “You Can Trust Me”, and “I’ll Believe You”, sending shivers down the spines of the in attendance. Connors State administration wanted the community to know that even one act of sexual violence is too many and they will stand in defiance of the lewd act. On Thursday, April 27, the Muskogee Three Rivers Port Campus was home of the “Know More” celebration. Dr. Dinger spoke to the students and staff in Muskogee during their lunch break and released hundreds of teal balloons into the sky chanting “No More”. “At the core of events like these, it’s about teaching us all how to address the problem proactively, we experienced a shift in focus among students, faculty, and staff toward looking out for one another and feeling empowered to speak up when something is wrong,” said Dinger.
DENNIS KEITH REMEMBERED On Saturday, May 6, 2017, Perry Keith Cowboys head baseball coach, was presented with a marble plaque in honor of his father, and a founding member of the Orange Nation by Dr. Ron Ramming, Connors State College President and Dr. Ryan Blanton, Associate Vice President for External Affairs. Steve and Deb Salmon, and Mike Trimble were the masterminds behind the plaque. The ceremony was held on the Biff Thompson Field at Perry Keith Park after the Cowboys swept Arkansas Baptist in a double-header, clinching the OCAC Championship. The Cowboys ended the season with a 48-12 record.
COWBOY MUSIC FESTIVAL On Wednesday, April 26, Connors State College Student Activities held the Cowboy Music Festival inside the indoor arena on the Warner campus. Performers: Holly Beth, Bobby Ramming, and Tiger McElhaney, played country music, sang and entertained the crowds late into the night. Along with the music at the festival, Student Activities brought in Archery Tag, fresh cooked hotdogs, and corn hole, while the Oklahoma National Guard set up adult inflatables and gave out info and prizes to those in attendance. CONNORS CONNECTION
C O N N O R S S TAT E C O L L E G E 700 College Road | Warner, OK 74469
Connors State College recently celebrated its 108th graduating class awarding more than 350 certificates and degrees on Friday, May 5, 2017. 20
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A publication of Connors State College in Warner and Muskogee, Oklahoma -- the Connection: Volume 7, Number 4.