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Oklahoma State University Emeriti Association brief history compiled by Dr. Robert Lee Hendrickson


Founding Chair June 1, 2012


It was in 1985-86 Lawrence Boger, President of Oklahoma State University, was publicly telling how great the students, staff, faculty and facilities were at the university. When preparing for retirement in May 1986, I learned that all faculty and staff were no longer kept on record. Meaning that after serving the University for 30 years or more, no record remained as evidence. This did not set well with my thinking. Thus, I prepared a letter and sent it to Dr Boger stating that what makes a great University was how the Emeriti were treated. Within a few days Dr. Jay Boggs, (Provost) called to ask if I would Chair a committee seeking the desire of retirees to organize. When I agreed he gave me a three member committee. These were Dr. Kenneth McCollom, Dick Jungers, and Dr. Jean Agnew. Ken agreed to be secretary, Dick helped with finance, and Dr. Agnew assisted with means of contacting those who had retired. The Committee sent a letter to all recently retired faculty inviting them to a meeting in 1987. When 155 retired faculty turned out it was sufficient evidence for continuation. 


The first meeting, in January of 1988, was held in the Student Union, third floor meeting room. Approximately 160 came out. This provided evidence that the Emeriti were ready to become organized. Dr Boggs then increased the committee to 10 members. This gave me the option to have someone in charge of by-laws, dues, communication, officers, meetings, benefits, membership, etc. The association was officially organized in 1988 with Dr. Robert Henrickson as President. Monthly meetings continued in the Student Union with the support of the Provost office. They not only paid for the meeting room but also furnished coffee and donuts. We gathered sufficient dues such that it seemed desirable to set up an account with the OSU Foundation. Dr. Jungers and Dr. Henrickson met with the foundation located in the Student Union Hotel to arrange the Foundation Endowed Account. Monies continued to fund the account so as to spend only a portion of the earned income. Plans were to invest the money from Life 2 Memberships in the foundation and utilize the annual membership dues for operation. As the association grew, I asked Rick Green Stillwater National Bank if he would assist me in development of the association. Rick responded by furnishing coffee and donuts for the general meetings while we continued to meet in the Student Union. The Association enlisted 166 annual member and 33 life members during the first year and held seven meetings. The Association opened its membership to OSU Administration and Professional retirees during the second year. The word Faculty was dropped from the title, making it the OSU Emeritus Association.


Dr. Boggs continued to look for a more suitable facility for the Emeriti. The Home Economics Department vacated their building north of the Student Union in 1986 due to utilizing a new facility on Farm Road. The old East H. E. Building sat idle for several years due to being obsolete. After some on campus discussion, Dr. Boggs arranged to have the dining facility (rooms 101 and 102) in old Home Economics East building awarded to the Emeriti Association during the third year. This made it possible for the Emeriti to utilize the kitchen and dining areas for the first monthly pot luck meals and general meeting use starting in 1994.


Since Emeriti did not have a cook, members chose to have a pot luck meal once each month. The kitchen was used to make coffee, cook turkey on Thanksgiving and for special meal use. Food prepared at home was placed on the preparation tables in the kitchen and carried to the dining room for eating and visitation. A grant of $3000 was received from the OSU Foundation to help the newly acquired Center. Business for the association was conducted in the dining area. This facility also served the needs for the bridge club, Investment club, craft meetings and travel club meetings. Use of this facility continued until 1997 when plans for demolishment of the old building were finalized to make way for a new class room building. The sewer system in the old building also failed causing the Emeriti to immediately remove all programming and materials.


Dr. Boggs continued to work with the Association for space. In 1996 Boggs asked Association President A. B. Harrison and Robert Henrickson to review some space in the basement of Bennett Hall. After some discussion with the Physical Plant, it was agreed to have two rooms constructed. One room was made into a kitchen and the other a small meeting space. Along with these two rooms we were able to utilize the hallway and a larger room which was used by the Athletic Department for minor recreation. This provided poor facilities for the monthly pot 3 luck dinners. We continued with these facilities until 2003 -2005, during the leadership of Dr. Ron Beer. It seemed that OSU catering needed space and they had priority. Once again we went looking for space. We then tried the Hotel and Restaurant facility within the new Human Environmental Science building. This was agreeable during the directorship of Dr. Baker Bokorney. When the new Director Bill Ryan came on duty, the Emeriti dinners had to move since a new policy prohibiting outside food in the dining Facility.


The next space available was a small room in the Brumley Neighborhood Student Housing off Farm Road. This lasted for only a few months due to further needs of the students and the feeling that we might dominate their space. The Association was then invited to explore the use of the International Student Family Resource Center in the housing area off Walnut Street. While this space was nice, sufficiently large, and included a kitchen and meeting room, it too, had a policy prohibiting outside food. The on-campus dining facilities office asked the Association to consider using the East dining facility in the Willham Resident Hall. This lasted only one pot-luck dinner meeting when through the courtesy of past president Bob Henrickson, arrangements were made with Jim Mott, manager of the Willham dining area for the Emeriti dinners to be served cafeteria style in the west Dining facility. Prepared meals satisfied University Feeding policy and eliminated pot-luck dinners. The arrangement satisfied both organizations while the new Conoco-Philips Alumni Building was being constructed. The Emeriti Association continued to work with Jerry Gill and Larry Shell through the years so as to be of assistance to the Alumni Association. It was an achievement when the day arrived for the Association to have a permanent home in the Conoco-Phillips Alumni Building. The association not only gained meeting space, and a Kitchen, but an office as well.


Monthly business meetings were held first in the Student Union then in the old Home Economics Building, Bennett Hall, Wilham Hall, College of Engineering, New Human Science Building, Horticulture Gardens Building, Ladies dining Hall, College of Agriculture, OSU library and similar suitable facilities.


The Emeriti Association moved into the new Alumni facility in 2003 under the leadership of President Larry Jones. The following year Dr’s Henrickson and Beer moved all of the Emeriti facilities, dishes and etc. from Bennett Hall to the New Emeriti facility in the Conoco-Phillips Alumni Building. Most of the dishes were placed in storage on the third floor of the building until they could be given 4 to Habitat or disposed of by sale to the membership from 2003-2005. Robert Henrickson served as treasurer for the Association from 1989 to 2008 when the task fell to Geneva Dugger.



The constitution and by-laws were up-dated and approved during the 1992 annual business meeting. General goals of the Association were set: 1. To enhance professional and social interaction among retirees and OSU; 2. To encourage communication between retirees and the University’s faculty and administration; 3. To promote the general welfare of Oklahoma State University retirees.


The current constitution for the Emeriti Association is available here.



Alice Richardson audited the financial records for the Association from 1989 through 2008 and has continued this task under the financial record keeping of Geneva Dugger.


Dinner meetings

Monthly dinner meetings were held on the first Friday evening at 5:30-6:00 until the Association moved into the ConocoPhillips Alumni Center. A change to the First Monday evening of each month made it more suitable since the Click Dining Room was less likely to be needed by Alumni Programs.


The Emeriti Association Board continues to meet each month to prepare programs for the Dinner meetings. The Vice-President for Activities made arrangements for entertainment, program and decorations. Speakers on health care, book reviews, Legal issues, music talent, unique program on Outhouses in rural Oklahoma, and one on Oklahoma mail boxes, Route 66, wind power and etc.


Emeriti retirement campus

In 1990, the Emeriti Officers identified the need for a suitable upscale retirement facility in Stillwater. A Task force committee headed by James Plaxico, G. Chamberlin, R. L. Henrickson, R. Kamm, E. J. Turman, R. Goldstone, M Frye, H. Sare, A. Maciula, J.O. Grantham, R. Fite, and M. Scruggs was created to analyze 5 the need and to pursue options. Interviews were conducted with Emeriti living in various facilities in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Visits were made to existing units in Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Durham, North Carolina. Henrickson visited the facility in Bloomington, Indiana while attending the National Meeting of the Emeriti Associations. (AROHE)


After considerable study, it was concluded that a need existed for a Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRC). Various University Officials were interviewed to explore avenues of mutual cooperation offering advantages to the University and the retirees. The School of Architecture assigned the development of alternative designs for a CCRC as a Senior Class Project. That project produced 23 physical models and six possible sites for consideration to be considered by the Association. Two sites and models were selected for further study.


Early in the planning, several requests were made to the University Administration seeking the use of suitable land. A site on Lakeview Road north of the old University golf course, was identified as a means of appeasing the Emeriti effort. However, It became apparent, despite the many advantages to the University, that the Administration had no intention of becoming a part of a University related CCRC.


Nevertheless the Emeriti directors continued to persevere. There were several false starts involving a variety of developers over the past 26 years.


In 2003, the White Woods Campus Board of Directors was incorporated to develop a facility on 35 acres at the Range Road and 19th Ave in Stillwater. The land was to be donated by Mary Morris to honor her father. The original board included Ester Winterfeldt, Ron Beer, Robert Henrickson, Bill Brown, Milton Morris, Jim Enix , Larry Perkins, Grace Provence and Louise Schroder. A history of the White Woods Campus Activity by Ester Winterfeldt is Attachment #2.


The board negotiated with a number of management and development companies, but could not find a match for their resident center vision. In 2012, Epworth Living in Oklahoma City hired a new President, Jamie Harned, with OSU ties. The Board met with him and eventually signed an agreement for Epworth to develop a Continuing Care Retirement Center which will be known as “The Ranch”. A Sales Office was established in the Emeriti Office. A number of the White Woods Board members joined members of the Epworth Living Board -with Ron Beer as President-to oversee development. The White Woods Board was 6 dissolved and remaining members formed as advisory group to the new project. A Pioneer Club was established to identify individuals willing to pay $1000.00 deposit to be on a priority list for housing. The Ranch is planning cottages, independent living apartments, assisted living and full nursing care as well as many amenities. By August 2012 more than 162 individuals had joined the Pioneer Club and developers promise construction will begin when 100 total units have been reserved.


Bridge club

The Emeriti Bridge Club was initiated in 1992 by Alberta Henrickson first held in the Old Home Ec. Building. Hilda Waller became interested and assisted. Under Hilda’s leadership the club continued to hold afternoon and evening bridge club meetings each month with four to six tables. During the Summer term of 1997, two classes of bridge instruction were given by Cecil and Martha Maynard which were well received. Due to the leadership of Hilda Waller and Alberta’s assistance the club continued to meet until their death 2010.


Travel club

It was in 1990 a travel club was initiated by Bob and Alberta Henrickson. They made arrangements with the Kincade motor coach tour company from Oklahoma City to pick up in Stillwater so as to spend 3 to 4 days in Branson, Missouri to see the Christmas Shows and see the spectacular lighting. Trips were made to the Gilcrease Museum, Ponca City, Oklahoma City, the Tall Grass Prairie Reserve, Bartleville, along with several successful other motor coach trips.


Jack and Jodelle Stout agreed to relive the Henrickson’s of this task in 1998. They not only expanded the out of Stillwater trips but started Exploring Stillwater. See attachment number 3. In the past 10 years the Emeriti Association has sponsored over 40 car-pool trip around Stillwater and surrounding communities, to visit new buildings, remodeled buildings, businesses or programs of interest. Some examples are the OSU Microscopy lab, Iowa Tribes Gray Snow Eagle house for rehabilitation of injured bald and golden eagles, Quebecor World Color Press, the Kicker facility, and Mercruiser Plant among many others. The out of Stillwater trips were made using Friends International Tours and the OSU, “BOB” Big Orange Motor Coach.


Investment club

In April of 1995 the Emeriti Study group became the OSU Emeriti Investment Club. A general partnership was formed. A Partnership Agreement was signed by Sue Andrews, Jerry Bradley, Willa Combs, Frank Crow, Ron DuBois, Ray Eikenbary, Bernard Eissenstat, Hugh Evans, Robert Fite, Robert Gholson, J.O. Grantham, Colleen Green, AB Harrison, Robert Henrickson, Don Holmes, Helen Jordan, Dan Lingelbach, Andy Maciula, Julia McHale, William Parle, Harold Sare , Mary Sare, Irlene Sykora, and George Waller. The purpose of the Club was to become informed on the purchase and sale of stocks. Each member must invest at least $25. 00 and not more than $200.00 each month. The club has remained active and in 2012 has 21 members who meet twice each month to discuss their portfolio. See Attachment No 4 Current By-laws and Partnership agreement.


International committee

The International Relations Committee was initiated in 2005. A committee consisting of Ron Beer, Cecil Dugger, Conrad Evans, Jim Halligan, Larry Jones, Ken McKinley, Ron Noyes and Glade Presnal with the able assistance of Tim Huff, and David Foster of the OSU Office for International Students and Scholars.


The purpose of this committee is to promote and support the continuous flow and interchange of international students to the OSU Campus and faculty exchange to/with the many countries represented by international students enrolled at OSU. One primary activity of the committee was to pursue and garner financial support for academic scholarships for undergraduate students from foreign countries. Some academic scholarships for individuals from Thailand and Ethiopia have been funded. Brochures and promotional materials were developed so as to raise funds for students from Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. For more complete information see attachment no. 5.


Technology committee

This ad hoc group was formed in 2005 under the leadership of Glade Presnal. Emeriti members with questions and issues regarding the use of technology, (e g., personal computers, peripherals and digital photography, internet, wireless communication, etc.) Glade no longer had access to technology support and felt others of the Emeriti may have the same problem. This proved to 8 be true and the group has met monthly during the academic year with steady participation of 15 to 20 members since formation. Meetings were held in the Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence building.


Various staff members led the discussion and helped where needed. The main emphasis was on computer operation. The OSU library honored the Emeriti by offering computer classes for one semester.


Dr. Blayne Mayfield, former Head of Computer Science, served as instructor for several years. He possessed the rare ability to speak so that even a “nontechie” could understand. Emphasis was given to updates on new home computer hardware, and software, and current issues that developed during the Summer term and then covered questions from those who attended.


Provost assistance

The Provost Office has been of great assistance in the development of the Emeriti Association. The office has provided printing needs, travel support, coffee and donuts during formation meetings, securing meeting facilities and guidance as needed. Financial assistance to send the President of the Emeriti Association, to the triennial conference, (AROHE) of the International Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (is covered by the provost office. The recent amount included the dues, travel and lodging. These meetings permit the president to learn from over 100 other Emeriti Associations throughout the United States and Canada.


   It was not until 2009 when the Association benefited greatly by the addition of secretarial services of Susan Bigheart who split ½ time duties between the Association and OLLI. Some secretarial assistance still continues.


Committee appointments

Emeriti members serve on a number of Faculty Council and University committees. They keep the Council and Association informed on issues from Health Benefits to University policy changes to Academic issues. They also communicate the Emeriti/retiree perspective to discussions on those committees. The University committees include: Athletic Council and Human Resources Retirement Benefits Advisory Committee. The Faculty Council Committees include: Academic Standards and Policies, Athletics, Budget, Campus Facilities, Safety and Security, Learning Resources/Student Affairs, Long Range Planning and Information Technology, Research and Retirement and Fringe Benefits, In 9 addition, The President of the Association serves as a liaison to the Faculty Council.



Newsletters are mailed to all Emeriti Members at least once and generally twice each year as not every member can attend every dinner and read Updates distributed there or posted on the website. The Provost’s Office underwrites printing and mailing costs and the content includes updates from officers as well as pictures and stories of members participating in Emeriti Activities. Important member and association milestones are also featured. Most Newsletters are also posted on the Emeriti Website. Usually one letter is mailed during the Fall Semester and the second is included in the Annual Directory mailing in the Spring Semester.


Movie club

Since the Association owned a large TV, a movie club was initiated during the time meetings were held in the basement of Bennett Hall. The attendance was small and due to the move to other facilities, the activity was stopped during the 1999 year.


Emeriti ambassadors

The Emeriti Ambassadors, established at the time of the OSU Centennial Celebration in 1990 formed a group to serve as hosts during special events during the Centennial year. Thirty four Emeriti volunteered to be hosts. Twenty-four of the group continued to serve the University during 48 events on campus as late as 1999-2000. Each Ambassador was provided a badge by the Centennial committee. In 2000, the history of the Ambassadors for the past 10 years was compiled and placed in the OSU library Archives.


With the opening of the Alumni Center in 2005, Larry Perkins reactivated the Emeriti Ambassadors and extended assistance to the Alumni Association during special events. In 2008 the leadership was passed on to Sharon Brown who remained active. Due to her influence, numerous Emeriti Ambassadors continue to be involved. As many as 40 members have worked more than 500 hours a year for the Alumni Association. Help is given the Alumni Association with special events such as football game day, homecoming, reunions, along with Hall of Fame 10 and Distinguished Alumni Programs. Volunteers also help by answering the telephones and questions at the Alumni Center reception desk. At Gallagher-Iba Arena, Ambassadors hand out programs, assist families, and graduates during multiple commencement and convocation ceremonies each semester. 


The 90+ club

With a number of members reaching the age of 90 and older, a new club was formed in 2000. These adult members receive special recognition in the form of an Emeriti birthday card and a free meal. As of this date fourteen members have been honored.


Life long learning

The Stillwater Academy for Life Long Learning commenced in the fall of 2005 led by a board of Emeriti members including Ed Arquitt, Cara Beer, Sydney Reding, Lynn Sisler, and Esther Winterfeldt. This Board collaborated with the OSU College of Education Office for outreach to plan, develop and launch the first semester of educational offerings. A series of six-week, high-intensity courses on a variety of topics were presented at the Stillwater Public Library during the fall and spring of 2005-2006.


During the spring of 2006, the Board and the College of Education submitted a joint grant proposal to the Osher Foundation of Los Angeles, CA. to support and sustain lifelong learning programs in Stillwater, Tulsa, and Oklahoma, City. Funding was received in early June and planning began to: 1) develop a comprehensive program of informal, but high intensity educational courses in Stillwater; 2) develop contacts in and begin planning for similar programming in Tulsa and Oklahoma City; 3) hire a director and site coordinators: and 4) locate and establish office space on the OSU campus for the administration of the program.


The program now known as Osher Life-long Learning Institute, (OLLI) received a grant of $100,000.00 per year for a three year period. If the OLLI-OSU met program and membership goals and were met, at the end of three years, the program would receive a one million dollar endowment to sustain the Life Long Learning activities. The OLLI-sponsored programs in Stillwater continue to meet and have expanded to Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Bartlesville with great success.


Hobby groups

Some hobby groups had been formed in the past. The Christmas and Social card making met for several months but folded due to the lack of leadership.



An Annual Emeriti Association Directory has been prepared and published each year since 1998. The OSU Library Archives maintains a file copy. The Directory includes a complete listing of activities and active members as well as committees, board members, past presidents and contact information. See Attachment No. 5 for Past Chairman and Past Presidents.



An Emeriti web site for the Association was created and developed by council member Virginia Krenn. This provided members and other users a great volume of information. The mission statement for the association was adopted and included. The mission of the OSU Emeriti Association is to provide programs and activities that contribute to the ongoing educational and interpersonal interest of retirees and that provide continued interaction with the University and University affairs.


Natalea Watkins took over expanding and updating the Emeriti Web Site from Bob Swaim in 2005.The site posted Monthly Updates and Minutes, Membership Benefits and Forms, Calendars, Activities, Officers, History, Handouts from the Technology Group and Newsletters plus links to White Woods Information, Osher Lifelong Learning and Legislative, International and Volunteer initiatives in the Association. There were also links to the sites of other Emeriti Associations, the Alumni Association, the OSU Faculty and Staff Council Sites and the OSU Foundation. In May of 2012, the Provost’s Office offered to take over updating the site to match evolving University templates.



Throughout the years, the Emeriti Committee has been working with the Officials at OSU to accomplish and record the benefits for members of the Association. The 2012 issue of the Emeriti Directory now contains the most recent list of benefits.


Alumni financing

A Finance Committee, chaired by Norman Durham, initiated a fund drive to raise $250,000. 00 for a proposed Emeriti Center, in the anticipated Alumni Association Building. A committee was appointed and contacts initiated with the Association Membership to solicit donations. Larry Shell worked closely with the committee in the preparation of materials, pledge cards, and drawings of the facility. By April, 2002, the committee had collected $63,000.00 from 26 families and individuals. Donations were to continue.



Phyllis Luebke and Beverly Perkins chaired the planning committee for the Emeriti Association 20th Anniversary. An event was held January 7, 2008 to honor the four founders : Robert Henrickson, the late Jeanne Agnew, the late Richard Jungers and the late Kenneth McCollom, The Emeriti Council approved a $5,109.00 budget for the event and other anniversary activities. The gala was held in the Click Dining Hall in the ConocoPhillips Alumni Center. Thanks to excellent programming by Sharon Brown the attendance numbered 250 Emeriti and spouses. In addition, a lighted display was created for the Emeriti Suite to highlight the Association’s purpose, founders and Leadership. The anniversary script use by the committee is shown in attachment No.7.



In 2008, a committee chaired by Sharon Brown and Judy Lewis was formed to develop a policy for the décor of the Emeriti Suite in order to ensure coordination with the Alumni Association and to coordinate donations to support consistency and Association needs.


Some of the generous donations received by the Association include; a wall -mounted wide screen TV by Katerine McCollom, an office printer by Dorothy Friend, name plates for the founders display by Edna Jungers, a beautiful lamp table, clock, and serving tray by Robert Henrickson. A large coffee table book “Oklahoma State Portraits- Celebrating the Centennial of Oklahoma Statehood” was presented by Kay and Pat Murphy. A.B. and Guen Harrison gave the Association $500065 in 1989 for use in programming and development of the Association.

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