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Urban Central UCO COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS ALUMNI MAGAZINE

FALL/WINTER 2019

Into the Storm

Michael Brown’s journey through Edmond politics, Hurricane Katrina, and life over the air.

Leading the Change Dr. Lance Janda and the end of a 200-year military tradition.

Future Bronchos

A glimpse at the future of our growing campus.


Keep up with the College of Liberal Arts at UCO. www.issuu.com/urban.central.18


Urban Central


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Urban Central

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Contents

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Letter from the Dean

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For the Love of Wisdom

Provoking thought at an annual symposium.

12 CSI: Edmond

Sixth annual Criminal Justice Day brings out the regalia.

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Jillian and the King

Jillian Whitaker is breaking the narrative and living her message.

Leading the Change

Dr. Lance Janda and a history of change.

Diversity in Language

Passing on the importance of connection.

22 Becoming Dean

An 8,000+ mile journey that brought Dean Catherine Webster to the College of Liberal Arts at UCO.

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TADCA

Tomorrow’s Alcohol & Drug Counselors of America educationg UCO’s campus today.

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What Time Will Tell

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Future ‘Chos

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Into the Storm

A present-day look into CLA’s Lab of History Museum.

The future of UCO’s campus.

Michael Brown’s journey through Edmond politics, Hurricane Katrina, and life over the air.

Fall 2019

URBAN CENTRAL MAGAZINE is a publication dedicated to the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Liberal Arts alumni.

A special thanks to Dean Catherine Webster, Dr. Rozilyn Miller, and all of the Liberal Arts administration who made this alumni publication possible. Graphic Designer + Layout Cara Johnson Lani Jones

Copy Editor + Feature Writer Emily Entwistle M. Kevin Blair

Feature Writer Emily Entwistle Evelyn Stewart Jacy Bledsoe Jeff Elkins M. Kevin Blair Nancy Reyes Teddy Burch Xunhong Zhou

Photography Cara Johnson Jaclyn Jacobs James Jackson Sunny Weddle Tanner Laws

Social Media Sunny Weddle

JOIN THE CONVERSATION Urban.Central.UCO Urban.Central_

For advertising inquiries, sponsorship, comments, or suggestions, please conctact us at Urban.Central.18@gmail.com

Urban.Central_ Photo by Cara Johnson/Urban Central


LETTER FROM THE DEAN Dear friends and alumni, Welcome to our third edition of Urban Central! I am compelled, once again, to note with pride and pleasure that this publication is created and produced by our students in the Mass Communication department of the UCO College of Liberal Arts. Under the expert guidance of Teddy Burch, a stalwart group of writers, photographers, designers, and editors devoted themselves during the Fall 2019 semester to the production of this magazine. Once again, it is a beautiful piece, chock full of stories and information that center on the College itself, but also extend into the Oklahoma City Metro and beyond. You’ll find material that covers events and traditions here on campus, from the Symposium of Philosophy to the Laboratory of History Museum, as well as an emphasis on local journalism and crime investigation. Moving further afield, I invite you to learn about our alumni who have made their mark across the state and the country, including at West Point and in Washington, DC. Plus, you can learn a bit more about my own circuitous path to the College, which includes several stops along the East Coast and a memorable overseas stint.. All this to say, the UCO College of Liberal Arts has, for generations, provided opportunities for students to develop skills and expertise that launch them into opportunities near and far. I encourage you to be in touch with us to share your story or that of a friend or colleague who studied here. We would love to hear your thoughts about this issue as well. Happy reading,

Catherine Webster, Ph.D. Dean, College of Liberal Arts

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Photo by Sunny Weddle/Urban Central


What is Urban Central?

OUR MISSION: To bring forth the true essence of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Central Oklahoma, telling the stories of those who came before us, while inspiring the stories of our future.

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FOR THE LOVE OF

WISDOM THE PROVOCATION OF THOUGHT AT UCO

By M. Kevin Blair, Professsional Media, anticipated graduation: spring 2022

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ocrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He, of course, would know, as he suffered a severe fate due to seeking wisdom through the probing and examination of knowledge and claims of others. Times have changed, and the process of learning and seeking wisdom by inquiry will not get one arrested, but rather, with luck, result

in scholarly recognition. Philosophy, deriving of the Greek “philosophia,” translates as “loving wisdom.” Some may question the need for this loving wisdom. And they should. Philosophy seeks out wisdom and truth, which is at the core of every question. In this search for wisdom and truth, students across the country are given

Dr. Jerry Green (Jaclyn Jacobs/Urban Central) 8

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From left: Socrates, Antosthenes, Chrysippos, and Epicurus. Some of the great philosophical minds helped give birth to the idea of Symposium. (Provided/Pixabay)

the chance to submit papers for collegial examination during the Annual Southwestern Conference for Undergraduate Philosophers each spring. Dr. Jerry Green, assistant professor of Humanities and Philosophy, describes the conference as a modern Symposium, featuring a keynote speaker as well as students presenting papers. It acts as an homage to the ancient Greek Symposium; a vital part

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of the culture in the seventh century B.C., where men came together to discuss philosophy, politics, poetry, and more. April 11, 2020 will see the 24th year of this conference, with keynote speaker Sebastian Purcell, an expert on Aztec philosophy from the State University of New York - Cortand. According to Green, the conference is one of very few in this part of


Dr. Jerry Green stands on the Liberal Arts South Sing Lecture Hall stage. (Jaclyn Jacobs/Urban Central)

the country. This particular event is unique in that undergraduates from across the U.S. are invited to attend and present their papers on philosophy. Post-presentation, UCO students often offer philosophical responses. Many questions can be debated at the conference, such as, “What is the best way for a person to attain happiness?” or, “is there a meaning to life?” What cannot be debated, however, is the impact this conference has on its presenters. It helps presenters improve their confidence, Green said, and allows students to observe each other’s work, giving viewers the chance at an inside view of the discipline of philosophy and its cutting edge research. The conference not only promotes the research of these young philosophers, but provides them with a chance to practice professional skills and gain, “the confidence and poise to be able to stand up and deliver” outside of the classroom. Members of the Philosophy Club at UCO, a student group which officially sponsors the event, get experience in organizing a professional conference under the direction of Green. And thus, the pursuit of knowledge and truth remains in good hands.

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CSI: EDMOND by Nancy Reyes, Strategic Communications, anticipated graduation: spring 2020 and Xunhong Zhou, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: spring 2020

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aw enforcement is more than a career for some. It is a calling, and the UCO College of Liberal Arts’ School of Criminal Justice offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for those who feel compelled to participate in the important role of law enforcement agencies in America. Criminal Justice Day is the premier recruiting event for the school. It occurs each fall at UCO, with this year being the sixth and largest so far.

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Director of Criminal Justice Dr. Elizabeth Maier says “the hope for the event is for students and potential students to learn about UCO and about the school of Criminal Justice because in my opinion we have the best Criminal Justice program in the State of Oklahoma.” This year, the event featured helicopters, K-9s, tactical vehicles, police cars and police officers from various jurisdictions across the state. Students meet and interact with pro-

Members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection prep a set up for UCO’s sixth annual Criminal Justice Day event. (Sunny Weddle/Urban Central)


An officer from Oklahoma Highway Patrol discusses the Bomb Disposal Unit with students at the 2019 Criminal Justice Day at the University of Central Oklahoma. (Sunny Weddle/Urban Central)

fessionals from these local, state, and federal agencies to learn what it takes to be a law enforcement officer, how they operate, and more. Since there is a diverse number of specialized fields in law enforcement, Criminal Justice students have options. Some may be drawn to community policing, while others strive for tactical operations, or even forensics. Maier suggested new students who are unsure of the area in which to specialize enroll in a general criminal justice degree program before deciding. Unlike previous years, students last year were able to participate in breakout sessions and small groups to learn

from professionals in the field and to meet faculty members. Maier’s hope for the Criminal Justice Program is for the school and its experienced faculty members to reach more students to learn more about the School of Criminal Justice and to learn more about UCO, all while giving them an outstanding opportunity to have an amazing education. So if helicopters, K-9 units, and badges are for you, stop by Criminal Justice Day in the fall, and help balance the scales of the justice system.

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Jillian Whitaker poses with a microphone for Better Black News.. (Provided/Jillian Whitaker)

Jillian & the King By Emily Entwistle, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: fall 2019

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JILLAN WHITAKER MAJOR: Broadcasting MINORS: Public Relations, Journalism GRADUATED: 2013

or Jillian Whitaker it’s simple, “nobody is over anybody else. I cut you, you bleed. You cut me, I bleed.” This is not a quote of the day; these are the words she lives by. However, somewhere in between watching racial inequalities, and the false perception she witnessed on television that the African American male was either a criminal or an athlete, Jillian had seen enough. She knew she needed to do something. Driven by her principle that all men and women are created equally, Jillian saw a better

way to represent her community. The result was Better Black News and the purpose is fairness and equality. “I rarely saw anything that was positive in regards to a black person, and I got tired of looking at that. It didn’t represent the community that I grew up in.” Her goal with Better Black News is to inform the audience about what’s really happening within her community and being a positive influence on her viewers. “It’s about breaking the narrative, and hopefully influence someone who might not have a role-model in their life.”

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Above: Jillian Whitaker reports live for Better Black News. Below: Jillian Whitaker holds son, Janori, for a photo.(Provided/Jillian Whitaker)

Jillian traces her quest for diversity and equality to her time spent at UCO. A 2013 Liberal Arts graduate, Jillian thrived in Central’s range of cultures. “Growing up, I went to all black schools. Coming to UCO was completely different. I loved that I can be in class with another, completely different culture.” However, life has a way of quickly changing after graduation, and for Jillian there was no exception. Her journey in life changed before giving birth to Janori. “I wanted him to know that while he was growing in me, that I was molding him to be the king that I know he can be one day.” Janori Blair Johns is the depiction of diversity. Borrowed from African and

"I was molding him to be the king I know he can be one day." Japanese culture, the name Janori means magnetic purpose, with the idea that

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whatever his purpose is, people will be drawn to him. Jillian isn’t blind to the obstacles Janori will face in life. His voyage could be littered with many of the same disparities Jillian has witnessed. Giving him strength, knowledge, and encouragement is her objective. “We are going to be raising this baby, who is going to be a black man with many odds against him. But he is going to grow-up to be strong.” Armed with an infectious smile, and a personality that exudes confidence, it would be next to impossible to spend any length of time with Jillian and not be positively impacted by her disposition. She is a resolute woman comfortable in her own skin. “I’m very passionate about being a black woman. When I pray, I tell God that I would be mad if I was anything other than a black woman.” Driven by her faith, her strength, and motherhood, Jillian has some advice for us all; a suggestion that could go a long way in breaking down barriers and overcoming discriminations. “Go out, get out of your bubble and spend time with people that don’t look like you.” This is not a quote of the day, but rather words we can all live by.

Jillian Whitaker reports live inside an Oklahoma barber shop for Better Black News. (Provided/Jillian Whitaker)

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G N I D A E E G L N A H C E H T How Ending a 200-year West Point Tradition Changed the Military LANCE JANDA, Ph.D MAJOR: History GRADUATED: 1989 By M. Kevin Blair, Professional Media major, anticipated graduation: spring 2022

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emale soldiers serve the nation honorably, with a proud history as enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers. For two-hundred years after the Army’s founding, however, female soldiers could not attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1975 Congress passed, and then President Gerald R. Ford signed legislation opening military academies to women. Dr. Lance Janda teaches military history at Cameron University in Lawton. He earned Bachelor and Masters Degrees in History from UCO, and a Doctorate at the University of Oklahoma. Janda’s Doctoral dissertation later became a book titled “Stronger than Custom: West Point and the Admission of Women,” describing the struggles of the first class of female

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cadets appointed to West Point in 1976. The odds and traditions were against those young women who braved that first cauldron known as “Beast Barracks” in the Fall of 1976. “A hundred and nineteen women admitted in 1976 with a class of 1980. Sixty-two of them graduated,” said Janda. Institutional resistance was certainly a factor, but Janda said even well-intentioned leaders did not know what to do. “The good ones who were trying to do the right thing and trying to do the best they could, they just made all kinds of mistakes because if they didn’t, there was no one at West Point who could tell them differently.” Results are affected by leadership. Females in the West Point Class of 1980 experienced


Dr. Lance Janda stands beside the 75mm howitzer artillery piece outside Thatcher Hall for a photograph.. (James Jackson/The Vista)

both good leadership and bad. Janda explained that West Point was a transformative experience for those assigned to cadet companies with good leaders who wouldn’t tolerate harassment and hazing, but those under bad leadership fared much worse. “What they went through varied completely based on the quality of leadership and their particular unit,” said Janda. The West Point Class of 1980 went on to serve the nation in many assignments and capacities, including combat. Each new class includes several females. The Army now takes strong measures against all forms of sexual harassment and discrimination. Soldiers of every rank and classification must regularly

undergo training on the subject, and reporting systems have greatly improved. While the change may have been slow, Janda praises the military for how it has adapted. “They [military] would never choose to be on the forefront socially, but they usually are. If you think about integration [the] military does it way before mainstream society does the

same thing with the integration of women; not because they want to but because the government can order them to do it, and God bless them, they’ll do what you tell them.” Janda acknowledges that gender equality in the military is a work in progress, but he is optimistic. “It’s by no means perfect. There’s still a lot of harassment and assault and discrimination, but it’s not nearly the way it was when I started teaching, and it’s not nearly where it was in ‘76 when those first women showed up to West Point.”

Female West Point graduates line up amongst their fellow graduates during the USMA Class of 2017 commencement ceremony. (Provided/Army.mil)

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Diversity in Language PASSING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTION AT UCO By Jacy Bledsoe, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: spring 2020

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anguage makes simple that most important touchstone between people; the ability to express one’s thoughts, emotions and desires, and to understand those of another. Language arises from emotion and gives birth to logic, companionship, and even love. Used erroneously, it can start wars. Used decorously, it can stop them. Today, one can hear diversity in languages and dialects spoken in the halls of the Liberal Arts building, and throughout the UCO campus. The Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Culture Studies promotes the awareness and competencies involved with the greater cultures that make up campus culture. Dr. Karen Manna, assistant professor amd

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coordinator of non-major languages in the department, says that the primary focus is to “expose and educate students to cultural diversity within the United States and around the world.” The department of modern languages offers major programs in Spanish, French, and German languages, but they also provide options for Arabic, Biblical Greek, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Sanskrit, and Turkish. The list is expected to grow in accordance with demand and popularity of other languages. Dr. Manna says the name of the department is a misnomer in two ways; one, that they offer dead and ancient languages such as Latin and Biblical Greek, but clarifies


(Provided/Pixabay)

that the name reflects the awareness and the roots of languages spoken today. The other way is that the department isn’t limited to education on just the languages, but the literature and history surrounding the languages so that the students can comprehensively involve themselves in other cultures. One language everyone speaks is the language of food. One of the newer, yet biggest events which unifies all of these cultures is the International Potluck held in fall semesters. People from all cultures can bring foods to one big feast in the Liberal Arts building so guests can (literally) break bread with each other and learn about their differences, as well as their likenesses.

The potluck could be perceived as the encompassing symbolism of the focus of the department, which is to bring people together in harmony through learning and experience. Not to mention college students react feverishly to proposals of food. As the campus continues to recruit students from all over the globe, the need for a central unit such as the Department of Modern Languages will continue to increase. Though the department identifies different cultures and peoples, they also bring them together and closer, despite differences in backgrounds, languages, or beliefs. Afterall, at UCO we are all Bronchos.

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Becoming Dean

By Teddy Burch, Photographic Arts, spring 2007

It’s eight thousand, seven hundred and nine miles from Queens, New York to Paris, France, to Asheville, North Carolina, to Edmond, Okla. CATHERINE WEBSTER, Ph.D MAJOR: French GRADUATED: 1987, Columbia

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Upper left: Todd, Russell, Barbara, and Catharine Webster pose for a family photo in 1974. The red sweaters were made by Catharine’s grandmother, Dolly Webster. (Provided/Catherine Webster)

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hile today she can gaze out of a second story window in the newly constructed South Wing of the Liberal Arts Building with serenity, uncertainty has always been a companion during her life’s voyage. Yet this is the route for Dean Catherine Webster.

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Growing up in Westport, Connecticut, overlooking Long Island Sound, her childhood was filled with images of great memories: family trips with her brother to the beach in the summer, spending time with her mother in dance studios, and growing up close to her dad, an engineer with the cosmetic manufacturer Clairol. Life resembled the message portrayed by an impressionist painter. However, life has a way of throwing us curveballs. Her father, who suffered from type 1 diabetes from an early age, being dependent on insulin had become a way of life. At age 39, he suffered kidney failure and dialysis became the new normal. He lived four more years before he passed when Webster was 10 years-old. Life for Webster detoured that afternoon. “My mom managed to keep us in our house,” Webster says. “In our lifestyle as we knew it.” With her mother’s exceedingly entrepreneurial intelligence and Webster’s life lesson of complaining little and helping out lots, her mother, brother, and herself traveled into uncertainty together. It was during this time Webster embraced the excitement of opportunity. She would seize the chance of being on the radio, work for a local newspaper, and learn of the finer provisions while working at Hay Day Country Market; a Wholefoods before there was a Wholefoods. However, it was just after high school graduation, during a two-week tour of Spain, her love of travel began to blossom. Coupled with her mother’s message that academic excellence will be the vessel to carry you in life, Webster set off for Columbia University and whatever might await. “I’ve always taken the harder route. In the seventh grade I took French because it was


Catherine Webster stands in front of the band bus in uniform at a football game at Yale University in 1986. Webster was a member of the Columbia marching band throughout her undergraduate career. (Provided/Catherine Webster)

harder than Spanish, ‘Who does this anyway?’” she asks. “This is totally my life.” Part of taking the harder route meant being part of the first co-ed class at Columbia. It was an ad in the school newspaper that caught her eye. Summer staff was needed at the women’s college affiliated with Columbia; Barnard College in Manhattan, New York. Replying to the ad meant the sails for academia were set. That summer job developed into working full-time while chipping away at a Masters in Student Personnel Administration. After finishing her Masters at Columbia, and reaching new heights of intellectual realization, she went in the direction that made sense to her. She went to Kansas, taught at KU, and bought her first car. “I loved KU. I was in a hundred percent,” she says. “Classic Cathy, you know, all in. I learned the fight song, learned the history of the institution, even the history of Lawrence. I’m ex-

Catherine Webster, sans raincoat, boards the school bus for Bayberry Kindergarten in Westport, Connecticut in 1970. (Provided/Catherine Webster)

Catherine Webster stands in her cap and gown during Class Day at Columbia College on May 12, 1987. (Provided/CatherineWebster)

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“Classic Cathy, you know, all in.”

Catherine Webster stands with husband Bill Dycus on their wedding day, June 15, 1997, in Westport, Connecticut. (Provided/Catherine Webster)

pecting to be there for some stretch of time.” However, it didn’t take long, less than one year, and an opportunity one simply doesn’t pass up came along. New York was on the phone, asking her back. Webster found herself selling her car, and moving her cat and aspirations of professorship back to New York. Things happened fast with her new position. She met her future husband Bill and began her doctoral program in French at New York University. Before long, she was spending summers in France taking courses. After moving to Queens, experiencing 9/11 at arm’s length, and surviving the battles of Ph.D. coursework, it would only make sense to take the next step, in a way that only Webster could do. “One day my husband said ‘Why don’t we move to France?’”

Dean Catherine stands at the Chenonceau Chateau in the Loire Valley of France during a year-long sojourn throughout the country. (Provided/Catherine Webster)


From left: Bill Dycus, Catherine Webster, Thayer and Meredith Dycus pose for a photo in the Sandridge Santa Run SNL booth in December 2015. The family took part in the 5K and 1 mile walk as part of the Oklahoma City Downtown in December events. (Provided/Catherine Webster)

With the help of a French sponsored fellowship, the family made their way to Paris and begin to set their flag in the ground. Bill began to learn French and Webster went to work finding tenure track positions. As it happens, more curve balls materialized, and the possibility of full-time, permanent work didn’t. At the crossroads of one’s life working out the way they planned, and doing what’s right for your family and career, there was only one, clear choice; Ashville, North Carolina. “My husband is from Asheville, so we moved back there,” she says. “His parents were in the area, and having that family support was just what we needed.” After successfully defending her dissertation, teaching at UNC Asheville, and getting nowhere with the dozens of applications for tenure-track positions across the country, fate had yet another twist to the road of Webster’s journey. It was a meeting with Diana Pardo in

Washington D.C. that began paving the path to UCO. “I really felt like I connected with her,” Webster says. “It was that first conversation with [Pardo] that really made a huge difference.” The hard work paid off and Webster received two offers simultaneously. One for UCO and one from the University of Nebraska Kearney. Her decision to choose UCO has helped shape the minds of faculty, staff, and students of UCO Liberal Arts since. Webster’s quick ascension in the Department of Modern Languages, to the office of the Dean of Liberal Arts, isn’t a surprise. She’s been preparing for this role her entire life. After all, one doesn’t gaze out the second story window in the newly constructed South Wing of the Liberal Arts Building without having first covered a lot of miles.

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TADCA Tomorrow’s Alcohol & Drug Counselors of America Educating UCO’s Campus Today

By Jeff Elkins, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: spring 2020

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e rushes into the bedroom and locks the door behind him. Waiting to make sure no one is headed his way, he glances longingly with anticipation toward the bed. Once he’s sure the coast is clear, he hurries over and kneels, reaching as far as he can underneath, and pulls out an old coffee tin. Opening it, he lets out a frustrated sigh. Empty. Furious, he slams the tin to the ground. He hangs his head in his hands for a

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moment to think, but is interrupted by a knock at the door. “Honey,” his wife calls. “Everything okay?” He quickly stands and grabs his coat. “Fine,” he snaps back. “I’m fine.” He unlocks the door and pushes past her with a mumbled “going out”, and leaves. His wife muddles into their bedroom, and with tears in her eyes, lands on the empty tin on the floor.


Addiction may not always come without notice, but it always comes with a price. It can take the best things in life, and while it may make you feel complete, those moments flee. Eventually, it’ll take everything. National numbers are staggering. More than one in three adults are battling illicit drug disorder, and when factoring in alcohol abuse the number skyrockets. Something must be done. UCO faculty and staff members Dr. Elizabeth Berger, Art Christie, Dr. Robert Jones and Dr. John Bourdette knew they could help, and Tomorrow’s Alcohol and Drug Counselors of America (TADCA) was their answer. The positive impact is contagious, and for UCO associate professor LaDonna McCune and TADCA president Amanda Ohse, making a difference on campus and in the community grew into a priority. “TADCA is a community service organization with the purpose of educating the campus and the community about alcohol, other

drugs, general substance abuse and the problems that come from that,” McCune said. Former sociology professor Dr. Elizabeth Berger instituted the Bachelors’ degree in Sociology with an option in chemical dependency in the late 1980’s and the first class graduated in the summer of 1990. Sometime later, the degree was eventually changed to a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a major in Substance Abuse Studies. TADCA received the Organization of the Year Honors from Student Affairs in 2002, as well as the Outstanding Service Award in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2013. One of the many ways TADCA serves the community is through treatment center assistance. Addicted mothers face the challenge of overcoming this disease, as well as trying to be present in their children’s lives. The role of family in the process of addiction recovery is important. For many, the support of family is paramount to them achieving and maintaining sobriety.

“TADCA visits treatment centers like Jordan’s Crossing and Eagle Ridge that have children and mothers. We do Christmas parties and Halloween parties in these centers to help normalize what they have going on,” McCune said. TADCA also works with PIVOT, an Oklahoma City nonprofit organization that advocates, intervenes and counsels youth and families, to help the less fortunate youth with education tools. Many of these children need the help of organizations like this to make an early impact, as the child of an addict is eight times more likely to develop an addiction. TADCA hosts speaking events where UCO alumni are often featured or come out to help. “This is neat because I have worked with these people as students, and then for them to come back as professionals and see them share what they are doing now, that is always exciting to experience,” McCune said.

(Provided/Pixabay)


What Time Will Tell by Evelyn Stewart, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: fall 2019

THROUGH THE DOORS AND UP A NARROW STAIRCASE IN EVANS HALL, YOU’RE TAKEN TO A PLACE WHERE TIME STANDS STILL, AND THE VOICES OF YESTERYEAR RING OUT.

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A 1911 Oliver typewriter sits on what once was principal Richard Thatcher’s desk at the Laboratory of History Museum. (Tanner Laws/Urban Central)

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t’ll take you to the College of Liberal Arts Laboratory of History Museum. Imagine, a morning bell rings, and new shoes scuffle in to hallways, new students ready to learn new things. They chatter excitedly; finding their seats, dropping their textbooks onto desks, bags onto floors. The echo of soft laughter that bounced from the ceiling, the sound of chairs scraping across the ground, even the scratch and squeak of chalk on clean, green boards. We can’t know exactly if that’s how it all

happened. Sure, we can walk across campus, find a nearby bench, and gaze up at the towering building, newly renovated and full of life, and imagine. Territorial Normal School has come a long way since 1893. Growing building by building, name by name to form Central State University, and finally what we know today as the University of Central Oklahoma. Even as we read this we are participating in the university’s history. Once the pages are closed, it will be another document added to

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Graduate student Josie Sneed examines a late 19th century ceramic bowl from the collection. (Tanner Laws/Urban Central)

the those that make up the Laboratory of History Museum. The museum was founded in 1915 by UCO History professor Lucy Jeston Hampton (1910-58). Originally, it was stowed away in Hampton’s classroom located in the basement of Evans Hall. There, she accepted donations of all things historically interesting, especially if it related to Oklahoma or Central, often using those items in her lectures. Since then, the museum has had its ups and downs, literally. After a brief stint of being located in Old North, it was moved to the top floor of Evans, and then to the ground floor,

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into storage during a remodel, and back to the top floor again where it is today. In that time, the collection has grown to over 6,000 items, not including documents. Heidi Vaughn, Director of the Laboratory of History Museum, along with graduate assistants, have been working diligently to process nearly 2,000 of those items for easier management, assigning them each an item number and description. “We have completed many projects and brought more exposure to the museum. but there is still much to do,” Vaughn says. With that kind of dedication comes a


mission: to tell the story of UCO, its name changes, and the events of Oklahoma and the nation that affected the campus in one way or another. From the first organ that ever rang out at Central, to the original pigskin signed by UCO’s first football team, and even Adolf Hitler’s personal copy of Mein Kampf are just a few of the items you’ll find in the museum. However, Vaughn and her colleagues are constantly turning over new stones and finding more treasures buried in our university’s past. A current intern of Vaughn’s is working on a display detailing the Women’s Suffrage

Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. “There are many subtleties found in yearbooks that indicate changes in women’s attitudes during the years leading up to and after the 19th amendment.” Though space is getting tight, students and guests can still experience the ages of Central. As the Old North Clock Tower bell rings, take a minute to scuffle in to the old hallways and up the stairs. If you listen closely, you may hear the echoes of laughter, the scratch and squeak of chalk on clean, green boards.

Textbooks from the collection are displayed atop a mid-19th century dresser in the boarding house section of the Territorial Normal School exhibit. (Tanner Laws/Urban Central) UCO COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS

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Cori Phelan

daughter of Tawni Phelan

k c i n n a r B e ll ris and h E C f o : r e t t daug h ick Rig h Cori Brann Parents of these future Bronchos are graduates, faculty, or staff of the College of Liberal Arts. Submit your own Future Broncho photos to Urban.Central.18@ gmail.com for a chance to be featured in the next issue!


INTO THE STORM A QUEST FOR TRUTH

by Teddy Burch, Photographic Arts, spring 2007 and Jeff Elkins, Professional Media, anticipated graduation: spring 2020

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MICHAEL BROWN MAJOR: Political Science GRADUATED: spring 1980

Guymon to Edmond

I

t’s a summer morning in Guymon, Oklahoma. Most high school students are using their time off from school to sleep and hang out in the Oklahoma heat with friends. Michael Brown spent his mornings in the Guymon Courthouse with a stack of documents. His time was focused absorbing everything he could about the legal system, his corridor through life would require it. Brown grew up on a secure foundation of close family ties, a broad education, and the freedom to explore curiosities. His father was a small business owner, his mother, a homemaker and Avon salesperson. Through the tutelage of his parents and influential teachers, Brown cultivated a permanent state of inquisitiveness. He knew challenging the norms would be his energy, and the pursuit of opportunity his objective. So, how does a young man from the panhandle make his way to Edmond? The debate team. After a brief stay at Southeastern University, Brown made his way to Central State, joined the debate team, and began laying the groundwork for his next chapter in life as he pursued his B.A in Public Administration and Political Science. While attending school, he worked as the assistant to the Edmond city manager. For Brown, this was his foot in the door to the world of policy. Combine this with the discipline of looking at both sides of issues, and you have a strong foundation for law and policy. “I cannot speak for OU or OSU, or any other school in Oklahoma, but I know having gone to Central State, that taught me, that served me well. In law

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school … in politics, it served me well.” Brown’s career trajectory continued after UCO. He was accepted into law school at Oklahoma City University, and during his time in law school, longtime UCO professor Alvin Alcorn encouraged Brown to run for city council. With a mixture of zealousness and ingenuousness he ran for city council, and won. “I got elected,” he said. “Like holy cow, what am I going to do now?” What Brown did was work with the city of Edmond, local fire and police, and commerce to help Edmond boom into one of the fastest growing cities in America during the 1990’s. After unprecedented city growth, Brown was hired as Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) general counsel to the deputy director. He learned many things as a city council member, the most important lesson came on his last day at a reception for his departure. “We were trying to do the growth in a way that we could sustain. This one lady walks up to me, probably in her mid to late 70’s, shook my hand and said, ‘You son of a bitch, you can’t get out of town soon enough as far as I’m concerned.’ ” The point stuck, and Brown realized no matter how great a job you think you’re doing, someone out there is not going to like what it is you’re doing. This lesson would serve Brown well as the clouds just over the horizon began to thicken up, and turn an ominous shade of gray.


Former FEMA director Michael Brown walks the wreckage of a California wildfire. Brown served as director from April 2003 to September 2005. (Provided/Michael Brown)

The Approaching Storm On August 26th, 2005, Katrina churned in the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm crossed the southern edge of Florida the day before, leaving four people dead and flooding the coastline with almost two feet of rain. For the gulf coastal states, a state of emergency was declared. It was that day Brown knew coordination efforts needed to be in place soon. Louisiana, particularly New Orleans, was always one of the main concerns

according to Brown. Two years earlier, in January 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Brown to Director of FEMA, and now it was Brown who needed to take charge, to put into action the leadership skills that were rooted into the halls of UCO College of Liberal Arts. “You have to remember, Katrina hit the Florida Keys, it hit Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and we

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thought it was going to hit parts of Texas,” he said. “So, with that, we put [together] the largest civilian buildup of resources in the history of the United States.” Those resources included the National Guard, First Responders, private sector utilities, rescue personnel and vehicles, even localized air traffic control. Yet, all anyone could do was wait. “But here’s what you don’t do, you don’t put [rescue personnel] in the eye of the storm,” he said. “What you do is build up all these resources, so after the storm is going to do what it’s going to do, you then move in to start responding and helping people.”

Brown would initiate civic calls, which were essentially secure conference calls between Federal and State Governments. In these calls he would explain Katrina looked to be one of the largest, slowest moving storms to ever hit and urge mandatory evacuations no later than 72 hours before the anticipated landfall. While these evacuations were ordered in parts of the Florida Panhandle and parts of Mississippi, they were not ordered in New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin until around 20 hours before the storm hit. As a last resort, the Mayor of New Orleans told him the Superdome would be a shelter for those who couldn’t

In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, leaving devastation in its wake. (Provided/NationalGuard.mil) 40

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leave the city. An engineering report about the Superdome revealed that the facility was not fit to withstand a category 3 hurricane. Upon receiving this news, Brown erupted into an outcry of reconsideration to the Mayor. He held in his hand the engineering report of the stadium stating certain devastation. “So, I’m screaming at the mayor on this conference call. I try to get Director of the Hurricane Center Max Mayfield to paint the bleakest picture possible,” Brown said. “We’re actually trying to scare them into taking action and the action they took was to tell their citizens to move into the Superdome. That led to the entire media narrative that we had failed when in fact it was the local government that had failed the minute it was safe to start trying to get people out.” Despite Brown’s palpable sense of trepidation, the cries fell on deaf ears. At noon on Sunday, August 28 2005, the doors of the Superdome were open to those seeking shelter from the ensuing storm as the skies darkened and the smell of the ocean filled the air. Thousands trudged in throughout the afternoon with food, clothes and belongings. By 7 p.m., around 17,000 people were inside the unsafe structure as the storm bearing 125 mph winds knocked on their door. When Katrina made landfall, chaos and disaster ensued. The engineering report proved completely accurate; the roof blew off exposing thousands of sheltered victims to risk. By 8:00 a.m. on Monday, the Superdome was surrounded by 12 feet of water and the lights, one of the only things working off the generator were flickering. There was no refrigeration for food rations and the air conditioning had stopped working. Levees in the Lower Ninth Ward were breached, the same occurred in the Industrial Canal, and the 17th Street Canal. Most of the city was underwater, in some cases, 20 feet underwater. The rescue of thousands of stranded civilians was now limited to air, and amphibious vehicles, and the narrative of a worst-case scenario was about to be set. News stories start to come out showing people being interviewed inside looking scared, some with

children, even babies. This would fuel the narrative that nobody’s taking care of the city. The Parish Government was trapped in a building south of New Orleans. Brown and a few other officials took a Black Hawk Helicopter to the building with supplies. A man in a Panama hat and white suit approached Brown as he entered the building. “Boy, where the hell have you been,” asked the Parish President. Brown tells him they could not make it until then because of the storm. The man’s attitude goes away after a more thorough explanation of the situation. The next interactions would serve as a defining moment for Brown.

"'...are the bad things happening in New Orleans your fault?'" “I walked down the staircase, and there’s a Fox News reporter who stuck a microphone in my face and said, ‘are the bad things happening in New Orleans your fault?’ …It was at this very moment I knew somebody’s going to be a fall guy and I am the low man on the totem pole. The president is not going to be the fall guy.” On a plane from one disaster area to another, Brown received a phone call; it was the Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. His message was clear, Brown was no longer responsible for managing the crisis on the ground, and was to return to Washington D.C. Within a week, he handed the President of the United States his resignation.

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U.S. President George W. Bush and Michael Brown aboard Air Force One. Brown was named FEMA director in January 2003 by President Bush. (Provided/Michael Brown)

The Calm after the Storm After his resignation, the White House asked him to stay on as a consultant to aid in conducting after-action reports that studied what did and did not work. Congressional members played politics to use the subsequent Congressional hearings for the betterment of their parties. Democrats suddenly sided with Brown in hopes for his attacking of President Bush. Republicans needed a fall guy to protect their sitting president, and attacking was their approach. The result was an opportunity to tell congress and the country the unaltered truth. Undeniably, Brown faced a dark moment, and the result would play out in front of the world.

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Brown feels those Congressional hearings turned out to be highlights in his life because he wasn’t going to play the game. This is a man of character who was rendered as the face of blame for a catastrophic failure in design, infrastructure and cohesiveness; now he is chomping at the bit for his opportunity to alleviate some liability. Brown’s wife Tamara told him to stay calm and the time would come when he could talk about his conversations with the president, the chief of staff, Secretary Chertoff, the mayor, the governors, and this was that time. “...This guy’s testifying and holy crap, he is deliv-


"...I make no bones about it... that was one of the high points of my life." ering the truth to Chertoff, the president, the White House, to the media, to everybody. Here’s what happened and I make no bones about it...and that was one of the high points of my life,” Brown said. The passage of time has brought healing to New Orleans. The levees are repaired, jazz and zydeco once again echo through the French Quarter. Street performers dance, sing, and dazzle happy onlookers with magic and music in return for tips. Chicory coffee, beignets, and red beans and rice are still consumed in copious quantities. Cycles of weather come and go, bringing with them the won-

der and worry at the awesome power of nature. The city emerged, battered and scarred, from the ravages of the hurricane season of 2005, shook off the pain of it all, and proved that the “Big Easy” may have been down, but it wasn’t out. It weathered the storm, and it moved on. Brown would tell you there is no single person to blame for Katrina. Everyone involved would do things differently given the chance. Policies and preparations for disasters have forever been altered, and it took Katrina and Brown to make that happen.

On the Air Today, Brown hosts a radio show on 630 KHOW in Denver, where he and his wife Tamara now live. His purpose is to get listeners to challenge what they read and what they hear, to question the norm, and seek knowledge. He hosts a podcast, is writing his second book, and gives talks around the country openly discussing his successes and failures. His path in life can be traced back to a fundamental his parents instilled in him at an early age. They

taught a young Brown to embrace your dreams and chase your visions. His dreams lead him to great highs, lows, and flights on Air Force One. Just a small result of pursuing opportunities. “I have more fun than a barrel of monkeys because I get to tell stories and help people understand the world around them based on my experiences. I get to use my perspective and my life experiences; the good and the bad,” Brown said.

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Front & Back Cover Photos by Tanner Laws/Urban Central

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Profile for Urban Central

Urban Central - Fall/Winter 2019  

The University of Central Oklahoma's College of Liberal Arts alumni magazine.

Urban Central - Fall/Winter 2019  

The University of Central Oklahoma's College of Liberal Arts alumni magazine.

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