Alumni Spring 2023

Splitting the Uprights

Austin Manger, ’14, has gone from being a good teammate in tennis and football to a reliable teammate in community service.

It’s extremely difficult to increase muscle mass when others are doing the heavy lifting for you.

Austin Manger came to realize this at OBU, not as a two-sport athlete in tennis and football but rather in his faith.

“In my spiritual life, campus leaders such as Dr. Mark McClellan and Dr. Bobby Kelly challenged me to wrestle with hard questions and to seek truth for myself,” he said. “Many times, I would come to them in frustration, asking them to tell me what to believe about a passage of scripture or a question of life. Thankfully, they would never concede – instead, pointing me to scripture and arming me with an understanding to interpret and make sound decisions for myself and my own faith.”

Classes such as Christian worldview and life of Christ both challenged his faith and understanding, in ways he is thankful for today.

“I still use my color-coded Synopsis of the Gospels to study scripture, which was essentially the textbook for my life of Christ course,” Manger said.

Growing up as an athlete and then continuing athletics playing both on the tennis court and on the football field at OBU, Manger readily admits that he found a great deal of his identity in sports.

He left his mark on OBU athletics. Take for example, a 39-28 victory by the Bison over Texas College at Tyler, Texas, on Nov. 16, 2013. This game capped the Bison’s first football season since 1940. Manger converted two 40-yard field goals, another from 28 yards and one from 22 yards for a record four-field goal game. He also was perfect in three extra point attempts in the contest to finish the season with a perfect 31-of-31, tying the NAIA lead in percentage with the third-most attempts.

Looking back, he realizes it would have been easy to focus his efforts on sports.

“During my sophomore year,” Manger said, “Dr. Vickie Ellis challenged me to enroll in research and information gathering—arguably the most difficult class in the Communications Department, but not a requirement for graduation. I accepted her challenge and joined seven other students in a semester of tears, struggle, endless office hours, and way too much caffeine.”

Through that experience, Manger began to see himself as an academic and a scholar, not just an athlete.

With Dr. Ellis’ encouragement, he submitted his research to a national undergraduate conference, where his work received the award for the top undergraduate research.

“This was a turning point for my college career, solidifying that my academic accomplishments meant more than just receiving a degree,” Manger said.

During his junior year, he was working on a project that involved corporate interviews with some of Oklahoma’s top executives. To prepare for this, OBU leadership connected Manger with Jack Moore, a former corporate executive and current staff member in the development department on campus.

“Jack’s office quickly became a daily stop for me,” he said, “as I sought to soak up every bit of wisdom and experience that I could from our conversations. Over the years, Jack became more than just an advisor – I call Jack one of my closest friends and confidants.”

Moore continues to be someone that asks Manger the hard questions that he doesn’t want to answer.

“He challenges me to be confident in my decision making – something that I struggled with in college,” he said. “I am truly thankful for OBU providing the opportunity and encouraging me to develop relationships with mentors.”

Moving Forward

Manger, graduated from OBU in 2014, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in communications. A longtime resident of Oklahoma City, he graduated from Carl Albert High School. Following graduation from OBU, he began working for Access Midstream as a community relations representative.

In August of 2014, he went to work for Congressman James Lankford, as the field representative for the fifth district of Oklahoma. When Senator Lankford took office in 2015, Manger transitioned to a job in the U.S. Senate, again as a field representative and policy advisor for the Central Oklahoma area.

Then in the summer of 2017 he began a new role with Oklahoma Natural Gas, as the regional manager of community relations, where he led the company’s statewide outreach and public policy strategy.

Five years later, Manger joined the Hall Capital team as senior director of investor and community relations. Hall Capital is an Oklahoma City based, family-owned, private investment company, with automotive, real estate and oil and gas interests. Still based in Oklahoma City, he is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with current investors and potential new partners.

Manger also acts as the company representative with community organizations, including chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and non-profit partners.

He’s received many awards and honors including being a Leadership and Reputation Academy graduate, a Leadership Exchange Academy graduate, and is a Next Gen Under 30 Award recipient. Manger serves on many boards including the OBU Alumni Board, where he currently holds the position of secretary, First Tee of Central Oklahoma, the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce and the Talor Gooch Foundation. Manger is a trustee for the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and is a campaign cabinet member for the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

“In the latter part of my time at OBU, professors such as Dr. Mark McClellan, Dr. Bobby Kelly and Dr. Vickie Ellis all spoke truth into my life,” he said, “shaping me not only as an academic, but as a follower of Christ and a future leader in the professional world. Without the encouragement and shepherding of those three, my academic experience and professional achievements would look very different.”

Following God’s Map

Manger’s mentor Moore often reminds him, “It’s a short trip.”

That’s his way of telling Manger to make the most out of the relationships, opportunities, and time that he’s been given.

“Undoubtedly, we all will face the ups and downs of life,” Manger said. “Understanding that my faith being tested is a part of having a just and loving God, who wants to see me refined and sanctified, brings me great peace! El Shaddai – God Almighty, more than enough, in every circumstance, in every season – He is good and His plan for our life is good.”