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Hurley Chosen For Higher Education Hall of Fame

September 8, 2003

The Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony will take place at the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City the evening of October 7, 2003, according to Linda Mason, Chair of the Hall of Fame Committee for the Society. Persons interested in obtaining reservations for the event are encouraged to telephone Ann Fuhrman at 405/522-5248 x222 for information.

Richard H. Mosier, president of the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society announced the honorees Monday. In addition to Hurley, the 2003 class includes Wanda L. Bass of McAlester, Dr. Hans Brisch of Edmond, Dr. George Henderson of Norman, Dr. Richard Leftwich of Bloomington, Ill., Dr. Larry W. Nutter of Waynoka, Dr. Lois L. Salmeron of Oklahoma City, and Dr. Helmer E. Sorenson of Elk Mound, Wisc. The list also includes posthumous honorees Dr. Anna Lewis, Dr. Eugene Swearingen and Dr. G. Rainey Williams.

For over 35 years, Hurley, who retired in 1998, was one of the most respected professors on the OBU campus and among educators across the nation. During his time on Bison Hill, hundreds of biology and pre-medical students won admission to medical school or to graduate studies, and an exceptionally high percentage of OBU students have had the opportunity to continue their studies and eventually enter the medical or scientific programs.

Hurley joined the OBU faculty in 1962 as an associate professor of biology and was promoted to professor of biology in 1968. He received the University's two highest honors: the Distinguished Teaching Award, presented to him at OBU's 1982 Commencement, and the Meritorious Service Award, presented at Commencement in 1984.

He is known by his students as the "What is Life?" professor, for encouraging his students to come to a personal and biological answer to that question.

In 1999, the James Hurley professorship of biology was established at OBU.

Bass is Chair of the Board of the First National Bank and Trust of McAlester. She has been cited for her generous support of Oklahoma higher education through philanthropy, leadership and vision. She will be inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame representing individuals and institutions that support higher education through efforts outside the colleges and universities.

Brisch served as the chief executive officer from 1987 to 2003 of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, consisting of 25 colleges, nine constituent agencies, two higher education centers and independent colleges and universities and universities. He consistently and aggressively implemented an agenda focused on student success, program quality, first-rate faculty, excellence and efficiency.

Henderson has served as a University of Oklahoma professor of Sociology, Education and Human Relations from 1967 to present. His leadership includes Dean of the College of Liberal Studies, presentations and authorship of 29 books dealing with race relations and cultural diversity.

Leftwich was Professor of Economics at Oklahoma State University from 1948 to 1985. Author of The Price System and Resource Allocation, an internationally known and used classic text, as well as numerous other books and articles, his leadership included Chair of the Department of Economics and Regents Professor of Economics.

Nutter's higher education career spanned 1967 to 2000, beginning as professor of English at Central State University and continuing to administrator and President of Rose State College. He began his career as a high school English teacher in Tascosa High School, Texas.

Salmeron served the nursing program at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City since its inception in 1970 to 2001. Her leadership included Professor and Dean of the Health Sciences Division. She was influential in developing the first nursing program offered in Oklahoma via distance learning.

Sorenson, Dean Emeritus of Oklahoma State University's College of Education, served OSU from 1949 to 1973. His leadership includes numerous publications and a pivotal role in OSU's international education status. His leadership included decades of growth and visionary curriculum change.

Lewis was a Professor of History at the Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha from 1917 to 1956. Her leadership included Chair of the Department of History and special study and writings in the areas of American History and History of the Southwest. In 1930 she was named as one of 24 prominent women of Oklahoma.

Swearingen served Oklahoma higher education from 1948 to 1968 and from 1982 to 2002. He first joined Oklahoma State University's faculty as Professor of Economics, was Dean of the College of Business 1957-1964, and was Vice President for Academic Affairs in 1964 and Vice President for Business and Finance in 1966. He was President of the University of Tulsa 1967-1968 and Chair of Entrepreneurship at Oral Roberts University in 1982 and Professor until his death in 2002.

Williams contributed to Oklahoma higher education as a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine from 1958 to 1997. He served as Chair and three times as Interim Dean. He was beloved as a teacher, administrator, researcher and surgeon.