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OCU Homecoming Event Honors Distinguished Alumni
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City University Alumni Association will honor 10 of its brightest stars during Homecoming Weekend festivities, culminating Nov. 7 with the Distinguished Alumni and Athletic Hall of Fame awards dinner at the Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center. Reception starts at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Each school at OCU selects a graduate for the Distinguished Alumni award, and the Athletic Department makes an induction to its hall of fame. Eight awards will be presented, two of which will be shared honors. Fellow alums are encouraged to attend. Tickets are $30 each and tables of 10 are $300. Tickets are complimentary for alumni from reunion classes of 1999, 1984, 1959 or earlier. To order tickets call the Alumni Relations office at (405) 208-5117 or e-mail alumni@okcu.edu. The honorees this year are: Brian Harvey, Athletic Hall of Fame inductee In his 24th year coaching at Oklahoma City University, Brian Harvey is the only head coach the soccer program has had since the men’s program began in 1986 and the women’s program in 1994. He has forged an unmatched record, recording the most men’s and women’s wins in NAIA history. OCU has reached the 2001 NAIA women’s national championship game, the 1999 and 2000 NAIA women’s semifinals, the 1991 NAIA men’s championships and the 2008 NAIA men’s semifinals under Harvey’s direction. His 1999 women’s team went 24-2, and the men recorded a 23-2-1 season in 2001. OCU has won the Sooner Athletic Conference nine times in men’s play and eight times in women’s play. Harvey has coached 29 NAIA men’s all-Americans, 22 men’s scholar-athlete award winners, 31 women’s all-Americans and 33 women’s scholar-athlete award winners. All-Americans Richard Benigno, Dino Deleveski and Tim Treviño each turned professional. Harvey has several coach of the year honors for collegiate teams and youth teams. Prior to OCU, Harvey was head coach of the Oklahoma City Slickers, an American Professional Soccer League team that he took to the 1982 Soccer Bowl played before 42,000 at the Silverdome in Detroit. He led the Oklahoma City Spirit to the 1990 Lone Star Soccer Alliance championship. He also coached Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the United Soccer League and the Oklahoma City teams of the U.S. Interregional Soccer League. A native of Liverpool, England, Harvey graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1966 with a degree in physical education. He played soccer professionally in Australia, China, England and the United States. Harvey first came to the United States to play for the Dallas Tornadoes in the North American Soccer League. He played against the legendary Pele at Hong Kong in 1972. Harvey has a daughter, Nicole, who played for OCU in 2001-04. Andrew K. Benton ’79, School of Law Andrew K. Benton has been president of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., since 2000. He served as executive vice president from 1991 to 2000 and has been in the administration department at Pepperdine since 1985 in various positions including vice president for administration, assistant vice president, vice president for university affairs and chief executive officer during presidential sabbaticals. He graduated from Oklahoma City University with a law degree. Benton also serves as an adjunct professor at Seaver College. He was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar Association in 1979 and approved to practice before the Western District of the U.S. District Court. He is a member of the American Bar Association for real property, probate and trust section. He had a private law practice until 1983. Benton graduated from the University of Kansas in 1970 and received an American studies degree from Oklahoma Christian before graduating from Oklahoma City University School of Law. He and his wife Deborah have been married for 35 years. They have two children and live on Pepperdine's Malibu campus. Benton is an avid sports fan and musician. Jeffrey Luke ’87, Bass School of Music A native of Oklahoma City, Jeffrey Luke holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma City University where he graduated cum laude and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.  Luke went on to earn a master’s of music degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston where he studied with famed trumpeter Timothy Morrison. While at NEC, Luke auditioned for and won the Honors Brass Quintet scholarship and a fellowship to the world-renowned Tanglewood Music Center, where he performed under the batons of Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein. Upon graduation Luke joined the acclaimed Atlantic Brass Quintet, which allowed him to tour 49 states and 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Central America and the Middle East. During his 13-year tenure with the quintet, the Atlantic Brass performed at the White House, played on the Esplanade for an audience of 350,000 as part of Boston’s Fourth of July Celebration, recorded numerous CDs and was the first American quintet to win Premiere Prix at the International Brass Competition in Narbonne, France.  His teaching has included residencies at the Boston Conservatory, Boston University and the Tanglewood Institute. He has conducted seminars at Boston College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Buffalo and Harvard University. During his stay in Boston, Luke was also a freelance trumpet artist who performed many times with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra and Boston Ballet. Luke returned to OCU in 1993 to perform a concert with the Atlantic Brass Quintet and again in 2006 to premier his father’s “Concerto for Trumpet” with the OCU Symphony Orchestra. His trumpet playing can be heard on ESPN and ABC Sports, as well as on several movies and TV shows. He is currently playing his sixth season as associate principal trumpet of the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, where he lives with his wife Kim and their two children, Jason and Jessie. Jerry B. Vannatta ’70 and Marianne Brown Vannatta ’70, Petree School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Jerry Vannatta is a professor of humanities in medicine and professor of medicine at OU College of Medicine. He graduated from Oklahoma City University with a bachelor’s degree in physics. Jerry Vannatta attended the University of Oklahoma medical school, completed a residency at OU and has been on the faculty since 1979. He is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. Besides teaching general internal medicine and attending the wards at OU Medical Center Hospital, he teaches a course on literature and medicine at the undergraduate campus in Norman and in the honors program at OCU. Jerry Vannatta is the recipient of many teaching awards including five Aesculapian Awards from medical students, The Edgar W. Young Lifetime Achievement Award, the Stanton L. Young Master Teacher Award and the Humanism in Medicine Award, given by the Association of American Medical Colleges. He is co-author of an educational DVD on the use of narrative in the education of the physician, published at the University of Pennsylvania Press. He is co-editor of a book recently published by the American College of Physicians Press and co-author with his son Seth of one of its chapters. Jerry Vannatta serves on the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Health Foundation and the OCU Board of Trustees. He considers OCU to be the most important educational experience in his life and credits his liberal arts education for helping him find humanity in the world of medicine amidst its requisite scientific structure. Marianne Brown Vannatta attended high school in Albuquerque, N.M., and went to college at Oklahoma City University. She graduated magna cum laude in mathematics. She was a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and was an active member of the campus community. Marianne Vannatta had a long career as a certified public accountant. She practiced accounting in Oklahoma City for 25 years.  Marianne Vannatta served as president of the Heritage Hills neighborhood association and was a member of the Oklahoma Literacy Council. She was instrumental in creating a not-for-profit trust to fund the development of Shartel Boulevard from N.W. 18th to 13th streets in northwest Oklahoma City. Marianne Vannatta always considered her experience at OCU to be one of the most important in her life. She continually stressed that it was the campus life and the liberal arts education that created for her a model of citizenship that would serve her and her community well throughout her life. She was truly a servant leader and honored the university with the life she lived. She enjoyed serving on the OCU Board of Trustees, where she was active on the finance and student life committees. When approached by OCU President Tom McDaniel to chair a committee to develop a new tradition for Homecoming, she was instrumental in establishing the annual Race with the Stars. Since her death the race has been named in her honor. Marianne Vannatta and her committee were successful in raising more than $100,000 for a nursing scholarship endowment. The Vannattas married the day after their OCU graduation. The couple enjoyed 39 years together. Marianne died in April 2009 following a short bout of cancer. She and Jerry raised two sons, Jeremy and Seth, and they enjoyed a close relationship with three grandchildren. Mark Graham ’84, Meinders School of Business Major General Mark Graham became the commander of Division West and Fort Carson on Sept. 14, 2007. He graduated from Oklahoma City University with a masters of business administration degree. A 1977 graduate from Murray State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Graham also has a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from National Defense University. His military schools include the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the National War College. He was commissioned a second lieutenant of field artillery in 1977 at Murray State University in Kentucky. Following the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, Graham was assigned to the 1-2nd Field Artillery, 8th Infantry Division, Baumholder, Germany. Graham has served in command and staff positions throughout the Army in the United States and overseas. He has also served in several operations, plans and training staff assignments. His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (two Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (five Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (four Oak Leaf Clusters) and the Army Achievement Medal. On the underside of the two stars that rest on each shoulder of Fort Carson’s top general, the names Kevin and Jeff are engraved. This is one way Graham honors his sons, two young men who did not live long enough to see their father pin on those stars. Sarah Jo Fazio ’96, Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management Sarah Jo Fazio lives in New York City and choreographs and teaches all over the country. She graduated from OCU with a Bachelor of Science in dance management. She most recently choreographed the United Dance Merchants of America fashion show and was seen on the CBS morning show. Fazio has served as co-choreographer and artistic consultant on the Las Vegas show "Bite" and choreographed the Carman "Heart of a Champion" tour, which premiered on pay-per-view, as well as the “Dino Christmas Spectacular," which aired on QVC. She has choreographed and directed Six Flags productions all over the country and has co-produced the show "Industrial Movement" for Silvertree Productions. She has choreographed halftime shows for the New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Cavaliers and has directed the show "Cirquo Magnifico" in Houston. Her credits include "Crazy for You," "Anything Goes," "Damn Yankees,"  "Grease," "Les Miserables," "Singing in the Rain" and "Suessical-The Musical." She has worked with one of the original top 10 American Idol contestants. Fazio works for such organizations as Dance Olympus, International Dance Challenge, Tamjams, Dance America and Starstruck. She has many CDs on the Statler Recording label as well as a dance instructional video for intermediate and advanced dancers. Stanley Gitari Imunya ’90 and Mary Karimi Gitari ’92, Kramer School of Nursing Stanley Gitari Imunya has been the coordinator of the Community Health Department in Maua, Kenya since 1993. In this position he works as a local missionary with the Methodist church at Maua Methodist Hospital with his wife, Mary. He graduated from Oklahoma City University summa cum laude. Imunya was born in Bwetha Village, Atthiru Gaiti, Kenya. His father and mother were peasant farmers of the Meru tribe. He did not go to school until he was 9 years old. He ran away and went to school at Karurume Methodist Church Nursery School, where he learned to write in the dirt on the ground. Imunya continued his education at Igembe Secondary School. During his secondary school years he was a class prefect and an active member of the School Christian Union. He qualified for the nursing course offered at Maua Methodist Hospital. He became concerned when there was a severe famine in his area. He wrote an appeal letter for emergency food relief and the British Red Cross responded quickly, sending an investigator to find Imunya and have him show the investigator the area. The hospital had a severe shortage of local registered nurses and few were willing to work in rural health facilities where there was no accessibility to social amenities or good schools for their children. Imunya began to consult American missionaries serving at the hospital to see how he and his wife could obtain their bachelor’s degrees in nursing.  After graduating from OCU he worked at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital until he returned to Maua and resumed his work at Maua Methodist Hospital in 1991.  Imunya is actively involved in his local church, St. Joseph’s Methodist Church, and presently serves as steward of the English worship service and secretary to the education committee. Mary Karimi Gitari has worked as the nursing officer in charge at the Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya since 1994. She works as a local missionary with the Methodist church alongside her husband Stanley. Gitari received her certificate-level nursing training at the Maua Methodist Hospital in 1983 and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Oklahoma City University in 1992. She served as the chairperson for the Congregational Health, Wholeness and Development Committee in 2005. Gitari was the treasurer for a village women’s group for four years. The group helped women support their husbands by paying school fees, providing food and improving their homes. Gitari spends her time training and teaching local women how to deal with the challenges and problems they face. In 2008, she initiated an Alternative Rite of Passage for St. Joseph’s Circuit. The training attracted 96 teenagers and was created to replace female genital mutilation. The program was designed to empower young women and make them aware of their rights. Gitari has been recognized for her role as a leader in the nursing field. In 2008 she was recognized for her outstanding performance in hygiene and patient care when she won first place in the Lievens-Lanckman Award through the National Nurses Association of Kenya. Currently, she works to ensure the delivery of quality nursing services in an inpatient and outpatient setting for the 275-bed hospital. Gitari is responsible for the development and continuous review of standards to improve patient care for all services at Maua Methodist Hospital. Mary Lue Eastmond ’91, Wimberly School of Religion Rev. Mary Lue Eastmond has almost 30 years of experience in teaching and training all ages of adults, youth and children in the ministry setting. She graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Master of Arts in religion concentrating in Christian education. She was a key leader in the development and implementation of Safe Sanctuaries in Oklahoma, a program to prevent child abuse in the church and to help abused children in the community. Eastmond was also involved in the development and continued improvement of the United Methodist Conference children’s camping ministry and was an integral part of supporting the development of Project Noel out of the Rural/Smaller Membership Church Commission of the Oklahoma Conference. In its inaugural year, 2007, 85 churches distributed nearly $1 million worth of gift items across Oklahoma from the Today Show Foundation. Eastmond received her Bachelor of Science in speech pathology in 1970 from the University of Texas in Austin. Then in 1971 she received her Master of Science in speech pathology from Southern Methodist University. She worked as a speech therapist in junior and senior high schools. In 1989 she was consecrated a diaconal minister in the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1991 she was certified through the United Methodist Church as a minister of Christian education and minister of youth from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. She was ordained deacon in the Oklahoma Conference in 1997.  Eastmond and husband Tony will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in May 2010. They have two sons and eight grandchildren.