State Speaker of the House of Representatives Kris Steele will deliver the commencement address during Oklahoma City Universityís fall graduation ceremony at 4 p.m. Dec. 16 in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center, at N.W. 27th St. and Florida Ave.
OCU will confer degrees on about 300 students and bestow Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees during the ceremony to Martha Burger, Bob Burke, Mary Gilmore Caffrey and J. William Conger.
Rep. Kris Steele represents District 26 in the Shawnee area.
Outside of the legislature, Steele serves as associate pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church in Shawnee. Having embraced a life of community service, Steele has been an educator at Tecumseh Alternative High School, taught life skills at Gateway to Prevention, counseled students in the Job Training Partnership Act at Gordon Cooper Technology Center and is currently a big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Shawnee.
Steele was inducted into the Child Advocacy Institute Hall of Fame for his work on behalf of at-risk children. He was recognized in 2007 as the Progressive Independence Legislative Advocate of the Year for his work on behalf of disabled Oklahomans, and in 2008 he received the Oklahoma Primary Care Associationís ďLegislative ChampionĒ Award in recognition of his efforts to provide better healthcare and increased access to insurance coverage. Steele was recently named Legislator of the Year by the Oklahoma Drug and Alcohol Professional Counselor Association and the Exceptional Commitment Award by the Oklahoma Academy.
Steele received his bachelor of arts degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and completed his masterís degree in education at East Central University in 2006.
Martha Burger í92
Oklahoma City University alumna Martha Burger was honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2011 Meinders School of Business Hall of Honor event in November. Currently serving as senior vice president of human and corporate resources for Chesapeake Energy, she provides leadership for human resources, administrative services, facilities, communications, security and ethics, and the companyís fitness center.
Burger was selected as the 2011 campaign chairwoman of the United Way of Central Oklahoma and is serving as vice chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Development Division for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She is an at-large member of the MAPS 3 Citizenís Advisory Boardís Oklahoma River Subcommittee, and a member of Oklahomaís Turning Point State Health Plan Committee and the Society for Human Resource Management. She serves as president of the Regional Food Bank Foundation and serves on the board of trustees at Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and the Central Oklahoma Humane Society.
Bob Burke í79
Bob Burke, an Oklahoma City attorney and historian, has written or co-written more than 70 books about Oklahoma and Oklahomans. He was named to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2006.
He served as a journalist and sportscaster for local radio and television stations in Oklahoma before joining the American Broadcasting Company in New York. He has held numerous positions in state government including director of a large state agency during Governor David Borenís administration.
Burke has served on the governing boards of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the Jim Thorpe Association, the Oklahoma Heritage Association, the Oklahoma Arts Council, Red Earth, the Wiley Post Commission and the presidential professor committee at the University of Oklahoma, where he is an adjunct professor in the Gaylord School of Journalism. Burke, named Distinguished Law Alumnus in 2007, has been a supporter of the Oklahoma City University School of Law and served on the executive committee of the Presidentís Council of Oklahoma City University during Stephen Jenningsí presidency.
Mary Gilmore Caffrey
Known as the ďmother of urban forestry in central Oklahoma,Ē Mary Gilmore Caffrey has been the executive director of the Tree Bank Foundation of Oklahoma since its inception in 1987. In 2007, she was presented with the Regional Horticulture Award of the National Garden Writers Association. At the time she received the award, the foundation had planted more than 57,000 trees, worth more than $27 million as estimated by the International Arboriculture Society standards. In 2009, Caffrey received the George Washington Honor Medal which is awarded by the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge. She was chosen for this award because of her leadership and efforts to better the landscape and environment of Oklahoma.
Through her work with the Tree Bank Foundation, Caffrey has played an integral role in developing youth programs to support school arboretums and to plant shade trees on playgrounds, in establishing tree farms statewide and in creating numerous partnerships among commercial, nonprofit and public agencies that have resulted in major beautification projects. The results of these partnerships can be seen in locations throughout the metro including the Native Tree Arboretum at Oklahoma City University, the Boys Arboretum in Edmond, the Atkinson Arboretum in Midwest City and the Will Rogers World Airport entry road.
J. William Conger
J. William Conger joined the university in 2003 as general counsel and a member of the faculty in the law school. He teaches courses in trial practice, law practices management, legal profession and complex litigation. Conger received his bachelor of arts in history from the University of Oklahoma and his juris doctor from Oklahoma University School of Law.
Conger is a founding partner of the Oklahoma City law firm of Hartzog Conger Cason & Neville where he was chairman of the firmís litigation department. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Bar Association, a past member of the Board of Governors of the Oklahoma Bar Association and a former trustee of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. Conger is a past president of the Oklahoma County Bar Association and past president of the William J. Holloway Jr. Inn of Court. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Law Institute.
Conger has received numerous professional honors and awards including the Oklahoma Bar Associationís John E. Shipp Award for Ethics and the Professionalism Award from the Oklahoma County Bar Association. In the William J. Holloway Jr. Inn of Court, he has received the Presidentís Award on two occasions and has also received the Service Award and the Professionalism Award. In 2005 the Oklahoma City University School of Law named him Professor of the Year.