Oklahoma Baptist University recognized outstanding alumni with special awards during its annual Harvest Dinner Friday, Oct. 20. The event took place during The Weekend, the University’s homecoming celebration at OBU’s campus in Shawnee.
Multiple awards were presented including the Alumni Achievement, Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) and Profile in Excellence (PIE) Awards.
The highest honor bestowed by the OBU Alumni Association, the Alumni Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding life service which has brought honor to the University.
Receiving this year’s Alumni Achievement Awards were F. Don Cooper, Ross Geyer and Laura Hillman.
Cooper, a physics graduate of OBU with honors in 1960, has been recognized for his remarkable contributions to science and technology. With a degree in physics and a minor in mathematics, Cooper embarked on a journey that led him to the forefront of innovation. He began his career at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, where he played a pivotal role in the design of a new missile for the Army, ultimately deployed to NATO. Notably, he was also a member of the Huntsville Alabama State Champion tennis team during his tenure there.
In 1961, Cooper transferred to NASA, where he served as a mathematician at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, contributing to the development of trans-lunar targeting equations for the manned Apollo missions. His publications in NASA archives stand as a testament to his significant contributions.
Continuing his commitment to space exploration, Cooper moved to Houston in 1965 to work on the Apollo program at the Johnson Space Center. In 1972, he assumed the role of Software Project Manager at TRW Controls, overseeing software and hardware installations for electric companies, including Pennsylvania Electric.
In 1993, Cooper founded F D Systems, focusing on inventory control software for wholesale businesses. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to excellence propelled the company to success, leading to its eventual sale.
Following this chapter, Cooper joined Professional Compounding Centers of America as the Chief Information Officer, contributing his expertise to further the organization's mission.
In retirement, Cooper has dedicated his time to inspiring young minds. He has volunteered to speak at schools, sharing the story of how practical applications of calculus played a crucial role in the Saturn V Apollo guidance equations. His goal is to motivate students to pursue careers in math and science. His commendations from the Army, NASA, TRW, PCCA, and the Profile in Excellence award from Oklahoma Baptist University in 2008 stand as testament to his extraordinary career.
In addition, Cooper received the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a member of the Apollo 13 operations team.
Geyer, who serves as the Pastor and Director of Obadiah’s House Ministries, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, embodies the mission to "reclaim God's treasures out of the darkness of sin."
Geyer’s career began as a social worker and parole officer for state agencies in Oklahoma and Texas. He investigated allegations of child abuse, working tirelessly to protect vulnerable children. For nearly two decades, he served as a Parole Officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, assisting parolees in reintegration and rehabilitation.
Ordained in 1974, Geyer served as a pastor for five churches across multiple states, amassing over sixteen years of service. His impactful preaching has touched lives not only in the United States but also in international revival crusades in Australia, the Philippines, Madagascar and India.
Geyer's educational foundation was established at OBU, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Speech in 1970. This academic achievement laid the groundwork for his influential career.
Geyer is not only a dedicated professional but also a devoted family man, a father of three adult children, and a loving grandfather to five grandchildren. He and his wife, Jorja, actively volunteer, bringing hope and healing to men through their work with Obadiah's House Ministries.
Hillman earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1990, marking the beginning of a remarkable career dedicated to nurturing young musical talents.
As the vocal music director at Cheyenne Public Schools in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, Hillman's passion for teaching and unwavering commitment to her students have left an indelible mark on countless lives. Beyond her initial degree, she earned a Doctor of Education, specializing in leadership and organizational change from Baylor University in 2021, equipping her with the knowledge and skills to inspire not only her students but also her colleagues and the wider educational community.
Hillman's accolades include being named the Teacher of the Year at Denison High School in 2002 and at Cheyenne High School in 2022. Additionally, she was honored as the Director of Distinction by the Western Oklahoma Choral Directors Association in 2022 and selected as a featured presenter at the Oklahoma Music Education Association Winter Conference in 2023.
Her impact extends beyond the classroom, as she actively contributes to her community through various clubs and organizations, including the General Federation of Women's Clubs and the Sorosis Club. Hillman's involvement in the restoration and renovation of the historic Rook Movie Theater and the Cheyenne Start newspaper office has transformed them into venues for community events.
Hillman's dedication to her alma mater is evident through her involvement with the OBU Alumni Association Board, where she has held various leadership positions, including president.
The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award is presented to a young alumnus or alumna, not necessarily a graduate, who in his or her life and career has demonstrated outstanding achievement and brought pride and honor to the University.
Jordan Bowles Kirby is the 2023 Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award recipient. Jordan, an enthusiastic sports aficionado and a communications alumna of OBU's Class of 2014, has transformed her lifelong passion for sports into a remarkable career, making significant contributions to both the athletic world and her local communities.
Currently residing in New York City with her husband Steven Kirby, Jordan serves as the Chief of Staff and Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Initiatives at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY. In this pivotal role, she has played a vital part in shaping the future of Fordham's athletic programs, fostering a culture of excellence, and driving strategic initiatives. Her commitment, innovative thinking, and leadership qualities have earned her the respect and admiration of her peers and colleagues.
Beyond her professional achievements, Jordan is deeply committed to community service. Her involvement as a volunteer with organizations such as Advent Food Pantry, Redeemer Presbyterian Church Children's Ministry, Women's Bible Study Leader at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, and Part of the Solution (POTS) in the Bronx, New York, exemplifies her dedication to making a positive impact on those in need.
Jordan's remarkable journey from an OBU graduate to a successful career in collegiate athletics and community service in the heart of New York City is a testament to her unwavering dedication, leadership, and compassion.
The Profile in Excellence Award (PIE) 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 Matthew Clough, a 2005 family psychology graduate; Hollie Fuller, a 2005 elementary education graduate; Amanda Teape Johnson, a 2010 strategic communication graduate; Todd Lambert, a 2001 religion and Bible graduate; Lucas Simmons, a 2012 art graduate; Brad West, a 1987 management administration graduate; and Noah Wickham, a 2003 graduate in religion – youth ministry and 2019 graduate in Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Following graduation from OBU, Clough pursued a master’s degree in theological studies to deepen his ministry understanding. Along with serving as lead pastor at Fellowship West, he is actively engaged in community initiatives and serves as a Bonner Springs Police Chaplain. His commitment to church planting and to his family, including his wife Meghan and two children, showcases a role model deserving of the Profile in Excellence award, leaving a lasting impact on others.
Fuller, an award-winning educator, teaches at Byng Public School. Her passion for teaching math and science, innovative methods, and civic involvement earned her numerous accolades, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching State Finalist. Beyond the classroom, she actively supports her community and fosters a love for innovation as the head robotics coach.
Johnson currently serves as the Spend Life Wisely Ambassador for First United Bank of Shawnee, where she utilizes her skills and expertise to promote First United’s four pillars: faith, health and wellness, personal growth and financial well-being, spreading love and impact across Pottawatomie County. Her dedication to community service and leadership has earned her numerous awards.
Lambert’s dedication to serving others has profoundly impacted his community and beyond. A passionate believer, he spent more than a decade overseas learning multiple languages and helping people in very remote areas. He continues to use innovative approaches to enrich the lives of people from cultures all over the world as well as among refugees in his hometown.
Simmons, a distinguished artist and community advocate, has left an indelible mark on Shawnee and beyond. With impressive achievements and accolades, his captivating artwork showcases a unique style. As a devoted husband and father, he finds support in his loving family. His involvement in mural projects and civic engagement reflects his commitment to merging art and history, fostering a sense of community, and inspiring others.
With over three decades of trial experience, West relentlessly pursues optimal outcomes for clients at The West Law Firm in Shawnee. His accolades, include being an Oklahoma Super Lawyer. Beyond law, West's philanthropy shines as he spearheads the area Coat Donation Program, donating over 3,400 coats to those in need. His community service stretches to multiple organizations, including board membership with The Salvation Army of Shawnee.
Wickham exemplifies excellence in every aspect of life. With a passion for serving others, he worked as a children’s and family pastor for churches in Oklahoma and Texas. His life call to equip, encourage, and enrich families has led him into the mental health field where he is currently working as an LMFT and clinical director at Rogers County Youth Services.
The evening began with an invocation led by Tim Rasnic, vice president for advancement. Following this, Lea Ann Quirk, an OBU alumna from the class of 2002 and director of the OBU Alumni Association, delivered a warm welcome to all attendees.
The program included a State of the Association Address by Chuck Lawrence, who is an alumnus from the class of 1982 and serves as the president of the OBU Alumni Board.
OBU President Dr. Heath A. Thomas, delivered a presidential address.
Lawrence conducted the award presentations, followed by closing remarks by Quirk.
The evening concluded with a benediction, "The Hymn to the Alma Mater," performed by Emily Day, a vocal music education major.