Distinguished Alumni Awards

An Honorable Tradition

For more than 50 years, UCO has honored its most outstanding alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA). The DAA award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in education, arts and sciences, business/professions, community service or university service.

For more information, contact the UCO Alumni Association at (405) 974-2421.


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2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Marjorie Bennett

Marjorie Bennett (B.A. '39)

Lifelong educator Marjorie Bennett graduated from UCO in 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts in speech when the university was known as Central State Teachers College. A native of Hennessey, Oklahoma, Bennett spent more than four decades teaching high school and college English, Latin, literature, speech and debate in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, including at her hometown high school.

During her career, Bennett has coached a number of award-winning debate teams and was named Forensic Coach of the Year in the Greater Philadelphia Area in 1972. Throughout her life, Bennett has tirelessly served her community through involvement in many civic organizations, including serving as past president of both the United Methodist Women and American Association of University Women. Bennett resides in her hometown of Hennessey and celebrates her 101st birthday in August 2018.

Mike Collison

Mike Collison (B.S. '91)

Mike Collison received his Bachelor of Science in accounting from UCO in 1991 and is vice president and chief financial officer of The Oklahoma Publishing Company (OPUBCO), a multi-industry holding company that owns landmark Oklahoma media outlets The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com

Collison began his career in 1989 as an auditor with accounting firm Arthur Andersen and became a Certified Public Accountant in 1993 before joining OPUBCO in 1995. At OPUBCO, he oversees the financial and accounting responsibilities for the company's diverse portfolio, which also includes interest in Suddenlink Communications and several luxury hotels and resorts. He remains involved with his local community and serves on the Board of Trustees for both the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the UCO Foundation. He and his family reside in Oklahoma City.

Alisa Green

Alisa Green (B.A. '08)

Alisa (Trang) Green is the founder and chairwoman of the Dress for Success - Oklahoma City affiliate. She has been working in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade and is passionate about raising community awareness, advocating for women and building relationships with at-risk individuals. Through Dress for Success, Green is able to help disadvantaged women in the Oklahoma City area achieve their career goals and support themselves and their families.

Green graduated from UCO in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in corporate communications. While pursuing her bachelor's, she was active in 26 student organizations on campus while finding time to mentor inner-city school students. Green was also a former Miss Asian UCO and was a fourth runner-up for Miss Vietnam USA. Green and her husband, film director Brent Ryan Green, reside in Oklahoma City.

Bill Pink

Bill Pink, Ph.D., (M.Ed. '95)

Bill Pink, Ph.D., is serving as the 10th president of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to his role as president at GRCC, Pink served as the institution's vice president and dean for workforce development, as vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, and as associate dean of the UCO College of Education and Professional Studies.

Pink received his M.Ed. from UCO in 1995 after receiving his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma Christian University and prior to receiving his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma. Pink is involved with his community through organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids and the Heart of West Michigan United Way. He serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids and is often invited to speak across the country on topics associated with diversity, economic and workforce development, and faith-based leadership. As an educator, Pink teaches public speaking and athletic administration courses on the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Joli Sanders

Joli Sanders (MFA '00)

Joli Sanders completed more than 40 hours of coursework through the UCO Master of Fine Arts interior design program to become a licensed interior designer in 2000. Combining her passions for psychology, interior design and helping others, Sanders established the nonprofit organization Focus on Home in 2014.

Focus on Home provides design services, furnishing and home essentials free of charge to deserving Oklahoma families in need of assistance. As a single mother, Sanders graduated with her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Texas-Austin in 1995 before moving to Oklahoma. She understands the importance of creating a warm home environment for one's family on limited resources, and her experiences influenced her work with Focus on Home. She and her family reside in Norman.

J. Michael Steffen

J. Michael Steffen, D.D.S. (B.S. '72)

Retired orthodontist Dr. J. Michael Steffen has been serving the Oklahoma community for more than 40 years through The Brace Place, the Edmond and Clinton, Oklahoma-based orthodontics practices he opened in 1974 and 1975, respectively. Steffen served as president of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation, a branch of the Oklahoma Dental Association focused on eliminating barriers to oral health care, from 2014-2015. He has also served as a board member for Oklahoma City Rescue Mission and Reaching Our City.

Steffen graduated fro UCO with his bachelor's degree in biology in 1972 before graduating from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Since his retirement, Steffen remains involved with his alma maters through philanthrophy, scholarships, mentorship and volunteerism. He serves on the UCO Foundation Board of Trustees. He and his wife Kathryn reside in Oklahoma City.

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