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Oklahoma State University

The official magazine of Oklahoma State University

Hall of Fame Honorees Pave The Way

National Diversity Award Presented 

Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of "INSIGHT Into Diversity" magazine, presented the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award to OSU's Jason Kirksey, left, and Burns Hargis. (PHOTO / GARY LAWSON)

Oklahoma State University was recognized nationally for its commitment to diversity and inclusion with the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.


“OSU has exhibited a significant and sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion that is being recognized as a model for institutions around the state and across the nation to emulate,” says Jason F. Kirksey, vice president for institutional diversity and chief diversity officer at OSU. “As one of the few five-year recipients of the HEED Award, OSU continues to earn national distinction for our pursuit of inclusive excellence. We are passionate about ensuring that every member of the university community is provided an opportunity to achieve their educational goals.”


Minority students represent 30 percent of the 2016 freshman class. More than 70 diversity-related student organizations at OSU empower students to promote their heritage and become leaders. The university also supports K-12 programs that facilitate students’ ability to successfully transition to college.


At the 2016 Diversity Hall of Fame banquet, Kirksey recognized OSU President Burns Hargis for his level of commitment and dedication to inclusion. Five new inductees and a rising star were recognized at the sold-out event in the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center during Homecoming week.


Hall of Fame honorees include William E. Hogan II, Sam Howard, and L. Patrice Latimer. Melvin B. Tolson Jr. and Phail Wynn Sr. were inducted posthumously. Tambra Raye Stevenson is the 2016 Rising Star.


“Because of many alumni and friends of OSU who fought for faculty, staff and students of color to have access to higher education, students like ourselves are afforded opportunities that we have on campus today,” says Tiffany Thurman, an OSU marketing senior from Oklahoma City.


On May 29, 1950, Melvin B. Tolson Jr. became one of first two African-American students to earn a degree from Oklahoma A&M College. He later became the first full-time African-American faculty member at the University of Oklahoma, where he taught French for 31 years. The OU Henderson-Tolson Center is named in his honor. Tolson died in 2011. 


Phail Wynn Sr. attended Langston University before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he became a pilot and rose to the rank of cadet captain in flight training. He was one of the first two African-Americans to graduate from OSU in 1950. Soon after, he started a career in civil service that took him to Texas, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Vietnam. He was the first African-American to be elected to the Board of Education in Lawton, Oklahoma. Wynn died in 1973.


Sam Howard serves as chairman of Phoenix Holdings Inc., an investment holding company in health care and real estate. Howard served as a vice president in various capacities for Meharry Medical College, Hospital Affiliates International Inc, and Hospital Corporation of America. He graduated with degrees from OSU and Stanford and served as a White House fellow.


Since 1993, Dr. William E. Hogan II has served as founder, chairman and CEO of The Hogan Group, a management consultant firm. He graduated from OSU in 1965 with a degree in electrical engineering. In 1969, he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University.  Hogan returned to OSU and completed a doctoral degree in electrical engineering in 1973. He became a full tenured professor and administrator at the University of Kansas before working for Honeywell and Medtronic Company. Hogan has served on White House task forces for education.


In 1975, L. Patrice Latimer became the first African-American student at OSU to be elected president of the Student Government Association. Following graduation, she worked for Cargill Inc. as a commodity merchant before earning her law degree at the University of Oklahoma. Her legal career ranged from criminal prosecution in Oklahoma to civil, employment and labor litigation in Washington, D.C.


Rising Star recipient Tambra Raye Stevenson graduated from OSU in 2002 with a degree in nutritional sciences and a minor in Spanish. She taught community health abroad before initiating the first Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives, the first Women and Girls Wellness Conference, and the first D.C. Victims Assistance Academy. She recently launched an organization in Nigeria to transform the food system.


Watch a video of the 2016 Diversity Hall of Fame at



More stories like this are available for members of the OSU Alumni Association. STATE magazine is a benefit of membership in the OSU Alumni Association. To join or update your membership go to or call 405-744-5368.


Published by STATE Magazine Editor Elizabeth Keys, Winter 2016, Volume 12, Number 2

Uploaded on December 1, 2016
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