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Former OCU President Jerald C. Walker Dies

Former president and chancellor of Oklahoma City University, Jerald Carter Walker, died Saturday in Tulsa. He was 78 years old.

He was the longest-serving president in OCU’s history, serving from 1979 to 1997.

“Proud of his Cherokee heritage, President Walker was devoted to improving higher education, driving standards and accountability in Oklahoma political and social ethics and access to education for Native Americans, other minority students and students abroad,” said OCU President Robert Henry.

A native of Bixby, Oklahoma, Walker was president of the Oklahoma City University student association while completing his undergraduate degree. He earned graduate degrees in social and political ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Claremont School of Theology. An ordained minister of The United Methodist Church, Walker served as chaplain and assistant professor of religion at Nebraska Wesleyan University. On his 29th birthday, he was elected president of John J. Pershing College in Beatrice, Nebraska.

“Dr. Walker tirelessly contributed to building community and making people believe in education as a means of progress,” said OCU Alumni Relations Director Cary Pirrong, who attended Oklahoma City University during Walker’s tenure.

Walker was on the board of directors of the 4-H Foundation and was named Distinguished 4-H Club Alumnus in Oklahoma and Nebraska. The National Conference of Christians and Jews named him Distinguished Humanitarian in 1991. In 1999 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. He served as a member of the Oklahoma State Ethics Commission and president of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church.

His capacities extended outside of the U.S. as well. In 1984, Walker led efforts that established 18 graduate programs in the People’s Republic of China, and paved the way for OCU to conduct MBA programs in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Republic of Singapore and the United Kingdom. In 1989 he established management education programs for 500 Soviet Union aviation executives. He was advisor to Tianjin University of Commerce in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China. In 1996 he was presented the Excellent Leader Award by the Management Development Institute of Singapore. Moscow State University also named him an Honored Professor. He was bestowed an honorary degree at Schiller University in Great Britain.

At the time Walker assumed the presidency at OCU, the institution was in dire financial straits. His tenure was dubbed as “the miracle on 23rd Street” by longtime friends of the university. During Walker’s presidency, the endowment grew from $2.8 million in 1979 to more than $36 million. After five years of budget deficits, the university operated with balanced budgets during his entire tenure.

Walker wrote numerous articles in the areas of political ethics, higher education, and Native American issues. He was the author of “The State of Sequoyah: An Impressionistic View of Eastern Oklahoma.” He also wrote a chapter in “The Oklahoma I Had Never Seen Before: Alternative Views of Oklahoma History,” published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Walker was the great-grandson of Benjamin Cornelius England, who served as sheriff of Delaware District in 1897, and also was a council member of the Cherokee Legislature. Walker was a prolific writer of numerous articles in the areas of political ethics and higher education.
As a distinguished member of the Cherokee Nation, in 2000 he received the Cherokee National Medal of Honor. In 1995, Walker along with Woody Crumbo, Wes Studi, Benjamin Harjo Jr., Will Sampson, Moscelyn Larkin, Virginia Stroud, and others, received the Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award from The American Indian Heritage Center in Tulsa.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Jerald and Virginia Walker Native American Scholarship Fund, c/o The Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation, 4201 N. Classen Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73118.

To download a photo of former President Jerald Walker, visit http://ow.ly/eKfy307suye.

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