Eastern alumni honored during 2015 Homecoming Awards Dinner
WILBURTON, OK (Nov. 22, 2015) – Each year during Homecoming, Eastern Oklahoma State College recognizes individuals and organizations for their success, service or impact on the college’s history. The 2015 Homecoming Awards recipients are all alumni of Eastern, making this year’s dinner a special celebration.
Bill White, a 1966 graduate of Eastern, was inducted as the 32nd member of the EOSC Alumni Association Hall of Fame. White, of Oklahoma City, is retired from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission where he spent 31 years as a public utility complaint investigator, manager of technical services and agency liaison to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
During the event, White described his time at Eastern and told several stories about getting involved in various student organizations and activities on campus that enhanced his college experience.
“I came from a large Oklahoma City high school and I didn’t know a person on campus. I got involved in a lot of different things and in a short amount of time I felt like I knew the majority of the instructors and most of the students,” White said. “Wherever I go, I try to establish families. I’m part of the Eastern family.”
Wilburton Mayor Stephen Brinlee, a two-time Eastern graduate, was honored with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. A lifelong resident of Wilburton, Brinlee earned two associate degrees from Eastern, including a degree in music education in 2005 and criminal justice in 2010. He was elected mayor of Wilburton in 2007 at the age 22, making him the youngest mayor in the state of Oklahoma at that time. Brinlee said people at Eastern and in the Wilburton community helped prepare him for success in his career.
“I’m not one of these people, with the successes that I have had, that will tell you that I was born in a log cabin I built myself. There are a lot of people in my profession that would have you believe that,” Brinlee said. “I have a strong family and support behind me. Growing up in this community, from Head Start through Eastern twice, I had great educators, mentors and inspirations for me to be all that I can be.”
Byron Bohanon of Tuskahoma was presented the Distinguished Former Faculty Award. A 1959 Eastern graduate, he taught mathematics and computer science programming during his 21-year career at Eastern. During the event, Bohanon spoke about the valuable role community colleges play in higher education.
“Community colleges today still bridge an important gap. They provide community, as well as a necessary educational milestone; class experiences where you are a person, not a student ID number; where you are held accountable, but expertly advised; where teachers are there for student success, not failure. Community colleges provide accessibility and I would not be standing here today if it weren’t for this community college,” Bohanon said. “I’m honored and grateful to be recognized for teaching people, not just subject matter, and for teaching students who made a difference beyond the classroom. That was my goal.”
The Heritage Award was presented to the family of the late E.T. Dunlap for the significant role he played in shaping and molding the history of Eastern. A native of Red Oak and graduate of Eastern, Dunlap dedicated his life to education in Oklahoma. He served as president of Eastern from 1951-1961 before serving as chancellor of higher education for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for 20 years until his retirement.
Dunlap’s son, Tom, and granddaughter, Stephanie, accepted the award in honor of his legacy.
“This is truly a homecoming in that I had the pleasure of growing up on this campus, so it’s fun to come back here and relive so many memories that not only affected me, but family in its entirety,” Tom Dunlap said. “Regardless of the fact that he had gone on to be chancellor for a great number of years, Eastern was always his heart. His roots are here. So it’s fun to think about while you have great success and you go on to do significant things in the community, the state and the nation, you have those roots. Eastern defined my Dad.”
Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith (far left) gathers with the 2015 EOSC Homecoming Award honorees including (left to right) Stephen Brinlee, Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; Byron Bohanon, the Distinguished Former Faculty Award; Bill White, the 32nd member of the EOSC Alumni Hall of Fame; and Stephanie and Tom Dunlap, representing the family of the late E.T. Dunlap.