Eastern’s annual Sapphire Ball scholarship fundraiser set for Feb. 28


WILBURTON, OK (Feb. 3, 2015) – Eastern Oklahoma State College will host its sixth annual Sapphire Ball on Saturday, Feb. 28 in the 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 employee’s, the event will feature dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions, and a performance by the Eastern Expressions. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Treva Kennedy, Eastern’s director of Institutional Advancement, said 100 percent of the event’s proceeds go directly to the Sapphire Scholarship Fund.

“The Sapphire Ball is not only a fun evening, but the funds raised during the event help Eastern students continue their education,” Kennedy said. “In the past three years, our supporters have raised nearly $31,000 for student scholarships during this event. We hope to continue that growth for the sake of our students.”

During the evening, Eastern President Dr. Stephen E Smith will honor four individuals and one organization that have been instrumental to the success of the college.

Dr. Marsha Gore (Class of 1974) and Dr. William Brewer (Class of 1958) will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to alumni who have distinguished themselves professionally and through service to the college.

A career educator and community volunteer, Gore has served as the superintendent of McAlester Public Schools since 2011. Throughout her career in education, she has either taught, led as an administrator or developed curriculum for high schools, community colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. She is also an active community volunteer, serving on the boards of the EOSC Foundation, McAlester Boys and Girls Club, and the Southeastern OK Interlocal Cooperative Board. Last year, Gore was one of two Oklahoma superintendents chosen as a “Future Ready Superintendent” and attended President Barack Obama’s Future Ready Summit at the White House. While there, she was one of six U.S. superintendents chosen to review the national technology plan.

Brewer, who lives in Yukon, has enjoyed a diverse and exciting career since graduating from Eastern in 1958. Brewer began his career as a speech teacher for Midwest City Public Schools before earning his doctor of dentistry in 1968. Brewer also served 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel and commanding the Dental Group Level Headquarters Unit. After 40 years of private practice, Brewer retired from dentistry and began a career as a voice and stage actor. He has appeared in several short films, television commercials and theater productions, as well as performed voiceovers for numerous television and radio commercials. He has also led more than 25 medical construction teams to all the countries in Central America as well as Vieques Islands, Puerto Rico and Alaska.

The Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad (A-OK Railroad) will receive the Community Spirit Award for outstanding support and service to Eastern and the Wilburton community. A-OK Railroad began operating in Wilburton in 1996 with six employees. The company has grown to 51 employees and operates 127 miles of railroad. Owners David and Patricia Donley have been long-time supporters of many community organizations, including Eastern, Wilburton Public Schools, the Wilburton Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, the Fire Department and local churches.

The President’s Excellence in Teaching Award will be presented to Marilynn Duncan, dean of Eastern’s behavioral and social sciences division. A Muskogee native, Duncan has taught at Eastern for 40 years and has been named “Teacher of the Year” on six occasions. She was in inducted into the Muskogee Service Leagues Hall of Fame and is an active member of the national service sororities, Delta Sigma Theta and Phi Delta Kappa. During her tenure at Eastern, Duncan has served on numerous academic and faculty committees, sponsored the student psychology/sociology club and NAACP student organization, and is a former board member for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), an organization that supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children.

Karen Darby of McAlester will receive the J.C. Hunt Award for staff excellence. A 1997 Eastern graduate, Darby joined Eastern during her final semester of college as the administrative assistant to the Nursing Department. In 2001, Darby became a recruiter for Eastern, working with high school students in search of higher education possibilities. She is also an advocate for nontraditional adult students who aspire to get a degree later in life, as she did. Darby currently serves on the Advisory Board for Adult Education and the Advisory Counsel for Eastern Student Success.

Tickets for the Sapphire Ball are $50 each and are available at eosc.edu/sapphireball. For more information, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 918-465-1759.

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