$1 million gift from Tourtellotte family creates endowed scholarships and faculty chair at Eastern Oklahoma State College


Gift made in honor of former president E.E. Tourtellotte

WILBURTON, OK (April 29, 2016) – Eastern Oklahoma State College announced today a $1 million gift from Pete Tourtellotte and his family in honor of their father, former president E.E. Tourtellotte. The gift will create the largest endowed scholarship in Eastern’s history and fund the college’s first endowed faculty chair.

Pete Tourtellotte, Betty Tourtellotte Murphy and Jim Tourtellotte, three of the late president’s children, gathered with 19 additional family members from across the country to help make the announcement during a special event in Wilburton. Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith, Oklahoma State System of Higher Education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, as well as more than 150 students, faculty, staff and community members were also in attendance at the gift announcement.

“This is a great day in the 107-year history of Eastern Oklahoma State College,” Smith said. “On behalf of the Eastern family, I want to sincerely thank Pete and the entire Tourtellotte family for their generosity. This historic gift will provide significant financial assistance to students and enable Eastern to continue its mission for generations to come, possibly reaching heights beyond where President Tourtellotte could have ever imagined.”

Smith said the majority of the gift will be endowed for student scholarships. Endowed scholarships are long-term, perpetual funds that generate annual income, a portion of which is awarded each year to deserving students. The remaining $250,000 will be matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Endowed Chair program to create a $500,000 endowed chair in arts education. An endowed chair, or endowed professorship, is a faculty position permanently paid for with the revenue from an endowment fund specifically set up for that purpose.

“With the state’s endowed chair program, this gift will result in a $1.25 million endowment for Eastern,” Smith said.

Edward Everett Tourtellotte was named the seventh president of the Oklahoma School of Mines and Metallurgy in March of 1924 at the age of 30. Smith said he took over leadership of the institution when it was still trying to recover from being closed due to World War I. E.E. Tourtellotte provided excellent leadership during this transition, addressing the challenges of funding and enrollment by leading an effort to rename the institution and move the college curriculum away from a miner training program to a state junior college. The college was renamed Eastern Oklahoma College in February 1927. During his 12-year tenure as president, Tourtellotte was instrumental in the growth of student enrollment, academic programs and campus facilities.

“President Tourtellotte raised the standards and gave new direction to the college and helped lay the foundation for what it has become in the 21st century,” Smith said. “In honor of his legacy and the generosity of the entire Tourtellotte family, the student center on Eastern’s campus will be dedicated as the E.E. Tourtellotte Student Center.”

In addition to the donation to Eastern, Pete Tourtellotte also commissioned a bronze bust of his father in the name of his mother, Beatrice Roll, and siblings Dorothy, Betty, Mary Ann, Richard and Jim. Five of the six Tourtellotte children were born in the original president’s home on Eastern’s campus during the tenure of their father.

Pete Tourtellotte said that if his father were here today, he would be grateful that people such as Chancellor Johnson, the Eastern Board of Regents and President Smith have continued with what his father hoped would be the result of the college in the 21st century.

Describing his father, Pete Tourtellotte said, “He was oriented toward the students, what they thought, what they wanted, and what he could do for them. While I was only eight when he passed on, I wanted to continue with that kind of thought for others and dedication to their success - because their success was his success. He would be grateful that you are here and that you’re doing what you’re doing to make your own lives and the lives of others better. That’s my Dad.”

Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith (far left) gathers with (left to right) Jim Tourtellotte, Betty Tourtellotte Murphy and Pete Tourtellotte following the announcement of a $1 million gift to Eastern in honor of former President E.E. Tourtellotte.

Jim Tourtellotte, Betty Tourtellotte Murphy and Pete Tourtellotte are pictured with a bronze bust of their father, former Eastern president E.E. Tourtellotte.

Pete Tourtellotte, Betty Tourtellotte Murphy and Jim Tourtellotte (seated left to right in the center of the photo) gathered with 19 additional family members from across the country to announce a $1 million gift during a special event in Wilburton.

Betty Tourtellotte Murphy and Pete Tourtellotte stand in front of the newly renamed E.E. Tourtellote Student Center. The building was dedicated on April 29 in honor of their father, Eastern’s seventh President.

Back to News Listing