Eastern’s 2018 Sapphire Ball scholarship fundraiser set for April 7


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 6, 2018) – Eastern Oklahoma State College will host its ninth annual Sapphire Ball on Saturday, April 7 in the Tourtellotte Student Center Ballroom in Wilburton. The annual black-tie event honors supporters of the college while raising funds for student scholarships.

In addition to the annual awards presentations for outstanding alumni, community supporters and employees, the event will feature dinner, silent and live auctions, and entertainment. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. The annual black-tie event is Eastern’s largest scholarship fundraiser with 100 percent of the event’s proceeds benefiting the Sapphire Scholarship Fund.

Four individuals and one organization that have been instrumental to the success of the college will be honored during the event.

Major General James Chambers (USA, Ret.) of Belton, Texas and Gary Reasnor of McCurtain will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally and through service to the college.

Following his 1973 graduation from Eastern, Chambers earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and his master’s degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology. He also attended the U.S. Army Command/General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. Chambers began his professional career teaching school in Marietta, Oklahoma for three years. In 1978, he enlisted in the Army and rose from the rank of private to major general during his 33-year distinguished military career. Chambers served two combat tours in Desert Storm/Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. He also conducted multiple missions to Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as served as the commanding general of Fort Lee, Virginia, and Fort Eustis, Virginia. In addition, Chambers served two tours in the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and an assignment in the U.S. Army Space Institute as the combat developer for GPS military receivers. After retiring from the U.S. Army in 2012, Chambers worked in the defense industry for four years as president and chief executive officer of two major defense industry companies before retiring in 2016. He currently serves as the head coach of Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s men’s golf team.

Reasnor attended Eastern from 1976-78 before transferring to the University of Oklahoma to complete his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1980. He received his professional engineer certification in 1989 and is also a graduate of the Depot and Arsenal Executive Leadership Program administered by the Institute for Defense and Business and taught in partnership with the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School. Reasnor began his professional career with Haliburton, one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. Facing a transfer in 1985, Reasnor sought a new opportunity to remain in his home of southeast Oklahoma and accepted a position as a supervisory civil engineer at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP). During his 33-year career at MCAAP, Reasnor has served in several leadership roles and as chief of multiple divisions. Prior to his current position, he served as the plant’s chief engineer where he directed and coordinated plant engineering and public work’s activities, including ammunition production and demilitarization, facility engineering, family housing, land management, real property and utilities construction, operations, maintenance and repair. In 2004, he became the civilian deputy, the highest ranking civilian at MCAAP. He is currently responsible for managing the mission programs, the safety, security, quality and reliability of the munitions stockpile, maintenance of the infrastructure and formulating long-range strategic plans and policies to efficiently and effectively accomplish MCAAP’s mission.

McAlester Regional Health Center (MRHC) will receive the Community Spirit Award for outstanding support and service to Eastern and the local community. Eastern and MRHC have a long-standing partnership for students and faculty in the college’s registered nursing program. MRHC serves as a primary clinical site, allowing students to receive hands-on guidance and training from employees who act in the capacity of clinical adjunct faculty. Numerous Eastern students are employed by MRHC as nurse externs, providing them opportunities to earn full-time positions upon graduation. MRHC has recently expanded services in McAlester, including opening a new geriatric psychiatric unit and hospice care service, adding state-of-the-art technologies with a newly added 128-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner and 3D mammography unit, as well as beginning construction of a new emergency center scheduled to open this summer. In addition, MRHC also expanded its services to Wilburton recently. The Southeast Clinic Urgent Care offers weekend services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in Wilburton. MRHC President and Chief Executive Officer David Keith will accept the award on behalf of the organization.

The President’s Excellence in Teaching Award will be presented to Brenda Bohanon Kennedy of Buffalo Valley. She has served as a professor of computer science at Eastern since 1986 and was named as the dean of the Business Division this year. She has served as a Faculty Council representative for 12 years during her tenure at Eastern. Kennedy has also served as adviser to Eastern’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society for 26 years. Under her leadership, PTK recently earned its eighth consecutive victory in Oklahoma Campus Compact’s statewide voter registration competition. Kennedy also created PTK’s annual Toys for Tots drive for the children and families of Eastern students. For the past 12 years, PTK members collected, wrapped and delivered toy donations to help make the holidays joyous for Eastern students’ families. Prior to joining Eastern, Kennedy taught math and computer science at Clayton Public Schools and Valliant Public Schools. A 1982 Eastern graduate, Kennedy also earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The J.C. Hunt Award for staff excellence will be presented to Lea Anne Dickson of Stigler. Dickson has worked at Eastern since 2006. She currently serves as the instructional design and institutional research assistant at Eastern. Dickson assists with state and federal reports, tracks enrollment numbers, manages classroom reservations, maintains faculty credentials, calculates adjunct and overload pay for faculty and maintains course syllabi. She also assists six academic division deans and three teaching site coordinators. Dickson previously served as the executive assistant to the vice president of Academic Affairs for nine years. In 2016, Dickson received the Creative Staff Innovation Award from the Oklahoma Association for Community Colleges for her work in developing a creative approach to making day-long assessment forum meetings more fun for faculty and staff. Prior to her work at Eastern, Dickson spent 13 years in the healthcare field as a registered medical assistant, office manager, payroll/data processing clerk, and administrative assistant. She is a graduate of the Southern Technical College.

Tickets for the Sapphire Ball are $60 each and are available by calling 918-465-1723. Corporate and table sponsorships are also available.

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