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Three Grads To Be Honored at Homecoming

October 23, 2007

Three outstanding alumni of Oklahoma Baptist University will be honored during the university's annual Homecoming Harvest Dinner at 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, in OBU's Geiger Center.

Two graduates will receive the OBU Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award. Lawrence Harris, a 1941 graduate and a retired oil businessman from Roswell, N.M., and Joel Hefley, a 1957 graduate and a retired U.S. Congressman from Colorado Springs, Colo., were elected by the association's board of directors for the association's top honor.

Carrie Phillips Underwood, a 2001 graduate, will receive the Graduate Of the Last Decade (GOLD) Alum of the Year Award. She serves as deputy director of policy and projects for U.S. First Lady Laura Bush.

The OBU Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award is given "in recognition of outstanding life service which has brought honor to the individual's alma mater."

The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Alum of the Year Award is presented annually to a young alum of OBU who, in his or her life and career, "has demonstrated outstanding achievement and brought pride and honor to the university."

Harris began working in the oil and gas industry in 1952. He helped develop the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, a trade organization for the independent segment of the oil and gas industry.

An active member of the Roswell community, Harris served 10 years on the local board of education. He served on the board of directors of the National School Boards Association and Executive Committee for five years. In that role, he represented an 11-state region.

He was instrumental in the development of Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell. Harris also served in a leadership role in developing public support for bond issues for educational institutions.

Harris and his late wife, Marian, have three children.

Hefley served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years, representing Colorado's 5th District. He was assistant minority whip from 1989-94, and chairman of the House Committee on Standards for Official Conduct, commonly known as the House Ethics Committee, from 2001-05.

Hefley was a member of the House Armed Services Committee for 18 years. He chaired the subcommittee on readiness and the subcommittee on military installations and facilities during his tenure.

His political career also includes serving in the Colorado State House of Representatives from 1977-79 and the Colorado State Senate from 1979-86.

A native of Ardmore, Okla., Hefley earned a master of science degree from Oklahoma State University. He also was a Gates fellow at Harvard University. He and his wife, Lynn, have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Underwood has served Mrs. Bush's office since May 2007. She was offered the position after working with TRI Leadership Resources (TeamTRI), a nationwide leadership development, event planning and management company founded by her husband, Ryan.

TeamTRI was selected to run conferences for President Bush's Helping America's Youth initiative. The company also managed the Preserve America Summit and the White House Summit on Malaria.

A native of Owasso, Underwood earned a master's degree in occupational and adult education, with an emphasis in human resource development, from Oklahoma State University in 2003.

The Harvest Dinner, part of OBU's Homecoming celebration, will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $13.50 per person and may be purchased through OBU's alumni office by calling 405-878-2706.