Chief Justice Tom Colbert to be inducted into OACC Hall of Fame


WILBURTON, OK (Sept. 30, 2013) – Tom Colbert, Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, will be inducted into the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges (OACC) Hall of Fame at the association’s annual conference in Midwest City on Oct. 4.

"As an alumnus of Eastern Oklahoma State College, we are very proud that Chief Justice Colbert is receiving this honor,” said Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith. “As the first African-American Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Tom Colbert is now a part of Oklahoma history."

Colbert is a 1970 graduate of Eastern. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Kentucky State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. He earned a juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 1982.

In January 2013, Colbert was sworn in as the first ever African-American chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He has spent most of his career in public service. Before his ascension to the state’s highest court, Colbert served on the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and as an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma county.

Early in his career, he was the assistant dean at the Marquette University School of Law. He also maintained a private law practice in Oklahoma City from 1986 to 2000. Colbert is a frequent speaker and supporter to all levels of education. He participates in a summer reading program for children and a mentoring program for young men.

Other 2013 OACC Hall of Fame inductees include musician Edgar Cruz, Dr. Jo Lynn Digranes, executive vice president at Connors State College, and the late Dr. Edwin Vineyard Sr. Vineyard, who was born in Alikchi in southeastern Oklahoma, graduated from Wilburton and attended Eastern from 1946-1947. He retired as president of Northern Oklahoma College in 1990 after 25 years of service.

Last year, former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh was inducted into the OACC Hall of Fame. A McAlester native, Nigh graduated from Eastern in 1948. He is the only community college graduate to serve as governor of Oklahoma.

The OACC is made up of 14 community colleges that serve the needs of more than 100,000 Oklahoma students each year. The OACC supports Oklahoma’s community colleges by providing professional development opportunities, advocacy and connections with key stakeholders to improve higher education in the state.

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