CU Alumni Association announces CUAA Award honorees

The Cameron University Alumni Association is pleased to announce the winners of its 2016 Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni and Faculty Hall of Fame Awards, which will be presented during the university’s homecoming festivities. Brad Burgess, Cheryl Tate and Emmit Tayloe will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; Jennifer Holland and T.W. Shannon have been named Outstanding Young Alumni; and Dr. Lance Janda and Dr. Christopher O. Keller will be inducted into the Cameron University Faculty Hall of Fame. The awards will be presented during the Aggie Family & Friends Awards Lunch on Saturday, February 20 in the McCasland Ballroom. The ceremony starts at Noon and is open to the public. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved online at

The Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award are presented to former Cameron students who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments have brought credit to Cameron by distinguishing themselves in their careers, in service to their communities and/or through continued support of Cameron University. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 40 years of age or older. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 39 years of age or younger. The Faculty Hall of Fame Award emphasizes teaching effectiveness, positive impact on students’ lives and involvement at Cameron outside of the classroom and in the community.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Brad W. Burgess, Class of 1980, Magna Cum Laude

Since earning a baccalaureate degree from Cameron in 1980, Brad W. Burgess has distinguished himself in the Lawton/Fort Sill community and the State of Oklahoma through his participation in numerous organizations. He has served as a Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation since 2003 and is also the current Vice President of the Board of Directors for Crimestoppers, an organization he has supported since 1999. He is also active in the Black Beaver District for the Boy Scouts of America, serving as Chairman of Finance. Burgess previously served as a member of the State Banking Board from 1994 to 2003.

During his Cameron days, he was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi and was a member of the speech team that won two national championships. Following his magna cum laude graduation, he earned his Juris Doctorate at the University of Oklahoma.

He is a partner at Burgess, Burgess, Burgess and Hightower and is co-publisher/owner of the Lawton Constitution.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Cheryl Tate, Class of 1977

A career educator, Cheryl Tate has impacted the lives of Lawton Public Schools students for more than three decades. Currently a kindergarten teacher at Woodland Hills Elementary, she was named LPS’ 2015 Teacher of the Year and also holds the 2014 Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Award for elementary teachers.

Tate is frequently described by her colleagues as a “master teacher.” She serves on numerous school and district-wide committees and has been instrumental in writing curriculum guides and developing assessment materials for LPS.

She is active in her support of the Lawton Fort Sill community, most notably through the creation of the Singing Valentine Fundraising Program, through which her students make, sell and deliver singing valentines to community members, utilizing the money earned to support local charitable causes, such as the Lawton Children’s Shelter, the Lawton Parks and Recreation Association’s KidsZone, the American Heart Association, and Lawton Food Bank’s Food4Kids program.

Distinguished Alumni: Honorable Emmit Tayloe, Class of 1980

Since earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cameron in 1980 and subsequently earning a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, Lawton native Emmit Tayloe has embarked on a law career that has seen him serve as an assistant district attorney, a private attorney and, since April 15, 2014, Comanche County District Judge.  During each phase of his career, he has demonstrated caring, enthusiasm, diligence and fairness.

Tayloe has served in a leadership position for the Comanche County Bar Association, taking on the role of president. He also participated in Lawton’s Teen Court for more than 20 years, as both a member of the Board of Directors and as a judge.

During his Cameron tenure, he was a member of the 1979 National Championship Speech Team and served as Student Body Senator and Vice President. His service to Cameron continues, as he has recently served as a judge for the School of Business’ annual Ethics Bowl competition.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Jennifer Holland, Classes of 2000 and 2002

Jennifer Holland’s impact on Cameron University – as both a student and a staff member – spans almost two decades. As a student, she was active on campus in numerous student organizations and was a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Lambda Pi Eta and Phi Kappa Phi. She was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities as well as a member of Cameron’s Top 20.  As a graduate student, she was accepted for membership in Delta Mu Delta. Holland earned a Bachelor in Speech Communications in 2000 and a Master of Business Administration in 2002.

She joined the Cameron staff in 2001 as Director of Student Activities, then served as Director of Student Development, Dean of Student Services and Vice President for Student Services. She initiated and facilitated numerous new programs at Cameron, including Financial Bootcamp, the annual Veterans Day observance, CU Succeed series, Ask an Aggie, MLK Day of Service project, and more.

Holland was recognized with the Outstanding Youth Mentor Award in 2013 by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the same year she received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the MLK Celebration Committee. She also served as a board member for the Cache Schools Education Foundation from 2012 to 2014.

Holland now impacts students at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith as Coordinator for Non-Traditional Student Support and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: T.W. Shannon, Class of 2000

Elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives at the age of 28, Lawton native T.W. Shannon went on to make history as the state’s first African-American Speaker of the House and the youngest house member to ever hold that position. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication in 2000 and holds a Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University Law School.

Shannon’s political career began when he worked as a field representative for Congressman J.C. Watts and then for Congressman Tom Cole. In 2006, he was the first Republican ever elected to the Oklahoma House from District 62 and the first African-American elected to the legislature from southern Oklahoma. He quickly rose to leadership in the state House, where he served as deputy majority whip in his first term, chaired the powerful transportation committee in his second term and was elected speaker-designate in his third term.

An enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, Shannon previously worked as the chief administrative officer for Chickasaw Nation Enterprises.

He is currently Managing Director with Premier Consulting Partners in Tulsa.

Faculty Hall of Fame: Dr. Lance Janda, Chair, Department of History and Government

According to one of the colleagues who nominated him, Dr. Lance Janda “exemplifies the qualities that are desired and expected of a Cameron professor: excellence in teaching and mentorship of students, dedication to the surrounding community and Southwest Oklahoma, and leadership of faculty.”

Janda joined the Cameron faculty in 1999. Since July 2008 he has served as Chair of the Department of History and Government. His university service is extensive, as he has served in a variety of administrative roles and on countless academic committees.  He has also served as a faculty advisor/sponsor for the History Club/Phi Alpha Theta.

Due to his expertise in military history, Janda is a frequent guest lecturer at Fort Sill and at various service organizations throughout southwest Oklahoma. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Museum of the Great Plains and is a member of Friends of Fort Sill Museum, exemplifying his commitment to preservation of historical knowledge that is central to the region.

Faculty Hall of Fame: Dr. Christopher O. Keller, Chair, Department of Communication

When seeking a Cameron faculty member who has a profound effect on students, look no further than Dr. Christopher O. Keller. A Cameron graduate himself, Keller fully understands the influence that great teaching has on eager minds. Former students sing his praises, citing Keller’s delicate balance of professionalism and candor and referring to his classes as “open, honest and challenging while remaining dignified and respectful.”

“Keller’s advice and guidance allowed me to excel academically and professionally,” wrote one of his nominators. He was also recognized for his “thoughtfulness to engage every student in the classroom,” which also served to build a sense of community.”

Keller joined the Cameron faculty in 2000, serving as an instructor in the Department of Education. In 2001, he became an assistant professor in the Department of English, Foreign Languages and Journalism. With the exception of a one-year stint working at Fort Sill, he has been a stalwart of the Cameron faculty ever since, seeing promotion to associate professor then professor. He has served as the chair of the Department of Communication since 2013.

For more information about the Cameron University Alumni Association, call 580-581-2988.


January 15, 2016

PR# 16-015