OBU honored nine outstanding alumni during the annual Harvest Dinner Friday, Oct. 25. The event took place as part of the University’s Homecoming weekend festivities.
The Harvest Dinner is a time-honored tradition on Bison Hill, where alumni, faculty and staff gather to celebrate the memories they have made at OBU. Each year during the event, the University presents several awards, including the Alumni Achievement Award, Graduate of the Last Decade and Profile in Excellence.
The Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the OBU Alumni Association and is given in recognition of outstanding life service which has brought honor to the individual's alma mater. This year, the Alumni Achievement Award was presented to Jim Adams and Dr. J. Michael “Hawkeye” Pierce.
Adams graduated from OBU in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. After college, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Korea and Alabama. He was honorably discharged in 1974 and was then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. He served as a clinical lab officer in Vicenza, Italy, from 1978 to 1981. He went on to earn a Master of Science in clinical lab sciences from the Medical College of Virginia in 1984 and continued his career as a clinical lab officer. He retired from the service as a lieutenant colonel in 1992. He then worked in clinical laboratories at six health systems until retirement in 2017. He currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Pierce graduated from OBU in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University department of biology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, department of biochemistry. He taught at the University of Miami Medical School, where he was appointed an assistant professor in the department of cell biology. In 1988, he received the five-year Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society. In 1991, he began teaching at the University of Georgia, where he currently serves as the endowed Mudter Professor of Cancer Research, as well as the director of the University of Georgia Cancer Center.
The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) is presented annually during the Harvest Dinner 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. This year’s GOLD recipient was Peter Wilson.
Wilson graduated from OBU in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and marketing. He currently serves as president of PTLA Real Estate Group in Walnut Creek, California. He has been with PTLA for seven years, serving previously as vice president as well as chief operating officer. During that time, he has helped double annual transaction volume and led the acquisition of a management company, more than doubling their number of units. Wilson returned to OBU in spring 2019 as the guest speaker for the Paul Dickinson College of Business’s spring business forum.
The Profile in Excellence Award is given to a former student, not necessarily a graduate, who has demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University.
This year’s Profile in Excellence Award recipients include Jarrod Frie; Dr. Reverend Lawrence Kirk; Shelley Sanders; Dr. H. Eugene Soulsby, D.C.; Bryan Wilks; and Dr. Susan Willis.
Frie graduated from OBU in 2000. He is the founder of Biomaterials of Oklahoma, now called Corsair Medical, an independent spine and biologic distributorship in Tulsa. He is also the CEO/ owner of Shield Screening, an employment background check company. Frie serves as a board member of the Payor Relations Management group (PRMG) and has served as an OBU board member in years past.
Kirk graduated from OBU in 1988 Bachelor of Arts in religion. He later earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently serves as the director of Christian education for the St. John Missionary Baptist church in Oklahoma City, where he oversees the educational needs of the church. He is often sought after to do Sunday School teacher training and marriage ministry workshops for local churches.
Sanders graduated from OBU in 1992. She is the senior vice president-investment officer with Wells Fargo in Oklahoma City. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City University and OBU in addition to the being an instructor at the Graduate School of Banking and Texas Bankers Association Trust School. Sanders volunteers with many organizations, including serving on the Board of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and the education committee of Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
Soulsby graduated from OBU in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in music. He then earned master’s degrees both at Louisville and Yale. Soulsby has done oratorio and recital work throughout Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, Connecticut and New York as a leading baritone in multiple operatic roles. He also has extensive conducting and music ministry experience. Following his formal music education, he studied chiropractic and spent many years working as a chiropractor.
Wilks graduated from OBU in 2000. He is the CEO of FreeForm Agency, an Inc 500 company and the second fastest growing company in Oklahoma. Before Freeform, Wilks graduated from the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. He then earned a Master of Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Silicon Valley inspired him to focus on furthering his technology education. He then earned a master’s degree in information technology with honors from Harvard University.Willis graduated from OBU in 1983. She is the dean for the School of Professional Studies at Rodgers State University. After graduating from OBU, she was a research assistant at the University of Wyoming while earning her master’s degree. She then continued her research at the doctoral level at Texas Women’s University. She taught for 20 years at East Central University and has been at Rogers State University for 11 years. While a student at OBU, she was the recipient of the Rosalee Mills Appleby award.