Oklahoma Baptist University presented its highest faculty and staff honors during the university’s 104th Spring Commencement May 18. OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock presented the awards before an overflow audience of more than 1,800 in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium on OBU’s campus in Shawnee.
Each year, during Spring Commencement, OBU presents three important awards to recognize quality teaching and faithful, productive service: the Distinguished Teaching Award, the Promising Teacher Award and the Meritorious Service Award. Nominations for the awards are made by alumni, current students, faculty and administration. In addition to public recognition and a token of the university’s appreciation, the recipients receive cash awards provided by OBU graduates John and Janet Hudson of Edmond, Oklahoma.
Dr. Bret Roark, professor of psychology and Ralph and Marie Barby Chair, received OBU’s Distinguished Teaching Award. The highest honor for OBU faculty members, this award is presented to a faculty member who has taught at OBU for five consecutive years or more. This faculty member has exemplified in his or her teaching career those characteristics of superior instruction delineated in the “Commitment to Excellence,” a statement of teaching expectations and objectives adopted by OBU’s faculty, administration and Board of Trustees.
Roark joined the OBU faculty in 1992. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from OBU, before earning both his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in experimental psychology with an emphasis on cognition from Texas Tech University. His graduate training is in cognitive psychology, and he currently teaches a variety of courses related to the science of psychology.
Only two years after earning his doctorate, Roark was selected by his fellow faculty and staff members as the Promising Teacher Award recipient. Each year, Roark proudly takes several of his students to psychological conferences to present the various research they have conducted under his supervision.
In making the presentation, Whitlock referred to a comment by one of his nominators.
“He is one of the most influential people in my career. As a student at OBU, I was challenged by him to pursue academic excellence and to dream big. As with all of his students, he unapologetically set the bar high for me, believing that I was capable of accomplishing great things.”
Ford Mastin, track coach and assistant professor of physical education and health and human performance, received OBU’s Meritorious Service Award. This award is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has made a substantial commitment of years and service, and who has been a loyal and faithful faculty or staff member.
Mastin joined OBU in 1996 as an assistant professor. A third generation Bison, he earned his bachelor’s degree from OBU in 1977. He earned his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Master of Education from East Central University.
Mastin has won numerous awards during his time at OBU for his commitment to the OBU track team. He is a seven-time recipient of the NAIA Regional Coach of the Year award and in 1998 he was named NAIA National Men’s Track Coach of the Year. He has been named both men’s and women’s Sooner Athletic Conference Coach of the Year multiple times. In 2001, Mastin was awarded the Promising Teacher Award.
Whitlock commented on Mastin’s commitment to the OBU community.
“While leading the OBU track teams to great victories, he has kept a servant heart and has been a role model for our students, daily reflecting OBU’s mission statement of living worthy of the high calling of God in Christ both on and off the field,” he said.
Dr. Cherith Tucker, assistant professor of mathematics, received OBU’s Promising Teacher Award. This award is presented to a junior faculty member who has taught at OBU less than six years, has demonstrated outstanding potential as a teacher and has exhibited the characteristics of one who may be a future recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Tucker joined the OBU faculty in the fall of 2013. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Southern Nazarene University in 2007, before earning both her master’s degree and doctorate in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma. Before arriving at OBU, she served as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma and as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Mathematics at Southern Nazarene University.
Tucker’s main research interests are in the area of low-dimensional topology. Her dissertation is entitled “Geodesic Fibrations of Elliptic 3-Manifolds.” She enjoys learning, researching, and teaching about areas of topology, such as knot theory, graph theory and the topology of manifolds.
Referring to a comment from one of her students, Whitlock said, “She loves the subject more than anyone I know, and that love cannot help but transfer to her students. Outside the classroom, she is a role model with the biggest heart and is someone who is seen as more than a teacher, a mentor.”
View a video of the commencement ceremony, including the award presentations.