Dr. Tony Yates
Features Spring 2024

Celebrating Excellence in Education: Dr. Tony Yates and Dr. Lyda Murillo Wilbur

With intramural sports and other activities, the Recreation and Wellness Center has been filled with plenty of sounds through the years. However, now that Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium is being repaired due to damage caused by the April tornado, the RAWC is being filled with new sounds coming from large student gatherings, such as chapel services.

During the fall 2023 convocation chapel service held in the RAWC, the sound of applause from students, staff and fellow faculty actually spoke volumes as Dr. Tony Yates received the Distinguished Teaching Award, and Dr. Lyda Murillo Wilbur was honored with the Promising Teacher Award. It was a testament to those who tirelessly and unselfishly invest in the future shapers on Bison Hill.

OBU has long been a beacon of excellence in education. As we navigate the corridors of this esteemed institution, we encounter two exceptional educators who have left an indelible mark on the university’s academic landscape. Yates and Wilbur embody the university’s commitment to excellence in education.

Dr. Tony Yates: Nurturing Scientific Minds

Yates, OBU professor of science, stands as a paragon of dedication to education and scientific exploration. His journey at OBU spans over five years, during which he has consistently demonstrated qualities that align with the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching.

Yates’ educational journey is a testament to his passion for science. He holds a range of degrees, from an A.A. in Biology to a Ph.D. in Science Education. His extensive academic background equips him to teach courses that delve into the intricacies of the biological world, including Human Anatomy, Human Physiology and Microbiology.

Beyond the classroom, his commitment to advancing science education extends to his research endeavors. He has been at the forefront of investigating misconceptions about biological evolution among high school students. His co-authored papers with Dr. Edmund A. Marek, retired director of the John W. Renner Science Education Center in the OU College of Education, have shed light on these misconceptions, highlighting the significance of science education in dispelling misunderstandings and fostering critical thinking.

Yates is not content with merely educating students at OBU; he actively shares his insights as a guest speaker at the University of Oklahoma, where he emphasizes research strategies and methodologies. His dedication and hard work were recognized when he received the University’s Provost’s Ph.D. Dissertation Prize for his work on students’ acquisition of biological evolution-related misconceptions.

His commitment to the field of science education is further evident in his active involvement in professional circles, including memberships in the National Association for Health Advisors, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the Oklahoma Academy of Science. Yates is not just an educator but also a tireless advocate for the advancement of science education, inspiring future generations of scientists.

Dr. Lyda Murillo Wilbur

Dr. Lyda Murillo Wilbur: A Beacon of Promise

Wilbur, OBU associate professor of Spanish, has had a remarkable journey to receiving the Promising Teacher Award, a reflection of her dedication to teaching.

As a native of Panama, Wilbur’s multicultural background enriches her approach to teaching Spanish. She is the youngest of four siblings, born to retired Oklahoma Baptist missionaries, instilling in her a deep sense of faith and purpose in her educational endeavors.

Wilbur’s academic journey is marked by an impressive array of degrees, including Marketing, Spanish, Spanish Studies, and Educational Leadership. Her Ed.D. from the University of Oklahoma delved into fostering self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in urban schools, highlighting her commitment to improving education in diverse settings.

Before joining the OBU community, Wilbur dedicated 24 years to public education, with 12 of those years spent teaching Spanish. Her extensive studies in Spanish, both nationally and internationally, have led her to guide student groups through Spain, Morocco and France, as well as engage in mission trips to Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela and Peru. Her passion for language and culture shines through as she nurtures a love for learning among her students.

Wilbur’s impact extends beyond the classroom. Her commitment to OBU’s mission is evident in her positive presence on campus. She has high expectations for her students but always pairs these expectations with a caring heart, embodying the values of faith integration and mentorship that OBU holds dear. Students describe her as challenging, inspiring and kind, and they appreciate her genuine care for their success in both academics and life.

Wilbur, who recently led an OBU honors trip to Ecuador, is not only a dedicated educator but also a wonderful colleague who brings joy to those around her. She exemplifies OBU’s commitment to forging lifelong relationships and preparing students
for a life enriched by knowledge and faith.

Yates and Wilbur are excellent examples in the classroom and across the campus of OBU’s call to “Live all of Life, All for Jesus.”