A keynote speech by astronaut Colonel Doug Wheelock and a celebration
of Lee Allan Smith’s life and career highlighted Oklahoma Christian
University’s eighth-annual Associates Dinner.
The special event, held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage
Museum, was attended by more than 500 people and honors supporters of
Wheelock has served with the NASA space program since 1998. He was a
mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2007, logging
almost 400 hours in space and performing three spacewalks. He has served
as the primary liaison between NASA and the Russian Space Agency, as
well as the Russian aerospace industry. He is scheduled to launch on a
Russian Soyuz spacecraft later this year, serving as commander of the
International Space Station and its six-person international crew during
ISS Expedition 25.
In addition to his appearance at the Associates Dinner, Wheelock
spent a day on the OC campus connecting with students. He spoke in an engineering class, in Chapel, at
another gathering in Judd Theatre, and for a group of at-risk female
middle-school students who are mentored by OC female engineering
OC alumna Diana (Kniffin) Oglesby, who serves as a computer engineer
for NASA, joined Wheelock during his time on campus, addressed a college
class, and co-presented with him to the middle-school students.
At the Associates Dinner, Oklahoma Christian announced a new "Spirit
of Oklahoma” award that will be given in honor of Smith, who was an
instrumental member of OC’s Board of Governors. His leadership has been a
driving force behind big events like the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival,
the Oklahoma Centennial Celebration, the Civic Center Music Hall Grand
Reopening, the Dome Dedication at the Capitol, and the Stars and Stripes
Show, which was nationally-televised by NBC on an annual basis.
The dinner included the debut of the 2010 OC Associates Video,
produced by the Oklahoma Christian University Marketing Office. It also
featured an entertaining performance by a select group of OC music
department students and alumni, directed by Dr. Ken Adams and
accompanied by Eric Grigg.
Acappella sang the national anthem and a special tribute song to
Smith, Louis Armstrong’s "What A Wonderful World.” OC Associate Phil Roe
led the invocation. Kay Murcer, wife of the New York Yankees’ iconic
ballplayer and broadcaster Bobby Murcer, who died last year after a
courageous battle with cancer, led the Pledge of Allegiance.