Katrina Impacts Oklahomans; Honoring Gary Trennepohl

Crown Bristow

FIRST RESPONDERS: People from the Tulsa area have contributed in important ways to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Above, nurses and other representatives from Tulsa’s Hillcrest Medical Center were among the first groups to respond to the needs of the victims of the hurricane. The photo was taken at the Mercury Air Center near the Tulsa International Airport August 31.

MATT GROSS for GTR Newspapers

My heart goes out to all of the people along the Gulf Coast who have suffered from Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. My wife Jane and I were raised in New Orleans, and we still have many friends and relatives who were there when the Hurricane hit. Jane hasn’t heard from anybody in her New Orleans-area family since the storm, and it has been a hard time for everybody with ties to the Gulf Coast.

We have a house full of people impacted by the hurricane who cannot go home, and my daughters and son are also hosting families. There are people from the Gulf Coast all over our region. There are at least 85 in Bristow, and the people here are offering money and clothing. Many of the people have lost their homes and their jobs, and as a result in many cases, their dignity. These are hard working people, and a lot of them are talking about staying here.

People in the Tulsa area have done a great job in caring for the people who have come here. I thank the area schools that have been so wonderful to members of our family and to so many others effected by the storm. TU, ORU, OSU-Tulsa, TCC, Bishop Kelley High School and the Tulsa Public Schools among many others have opened their learning facilities to young people who have had to evacuate.

An example of area hospitality came from my cousin from New Orleans who was in a local Subway store when a man spotted his Louisiana license plate. The man asked my cousin if he was here because of the hurricane, and when he said yes, the man replied, “This Sub’s on me!”

I want to do my part to help the victims of the storm by organizing the “Big Easy Rising,” a non-profit organization formed to offer assistance to those impacted by the hurricane. We will have a Web site and for symbolism will provide bracelets with the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. Our goal is to raise $1 million for cash and building materials for the victims. I want “Big Easy Rising” to be done the right way. We will not give hand outs, but rather we will work toward helping people to have their hands up, as we know New Orleans and the region will rise again. Spirit Bank will work with us, and we will have more information about the organization soon.

Jane and I have the honor to serve as Patron Chairs for the “A Stately Affair,” a black-tie gala to honor OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl by establishing an endowed chair in his name.

Event co-chairs Jane and Monty Butts recently welcomed guests into their Tulsa home to unveil plans for the spring gala and announce the Trennepohl chair. Monty said organizers felt creating a presidential chair was the natural choice to support top priorities at the university for years to come.

Endowed chairs, which provide long-term funding for the university, are also one of the highest forms of honor and recognition that a faculty member can receive. The goal of the campaign is to raise $1 million in private funds, which will be eligible to be matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Earnings will be used for scholarships, community initiatives and program needs that cannot be met with state funds.

President Trennepohl has done an amazing job since joining the OSU system in 1995 as the Dean of the College of Business Administration in Stillwater. In 1999, the Tulsa campus officially became part of the OSU System and President Trennepohl was selected as the first president of the university. Under his leadership, enrollment is rising, faculty is increasing and programs are proliferating.

Among those attending the Box’s event along with Jane and me were Sandra Trennepohl; advisory board members Dick and Malinda Fischer and Montie and Betty Box; committee members Raja Basu, Donna and Jerry Clack, Bryan Close, John Clerico, Catherine Drummond, Anne and Mike Greenwood, Kara Gae Neal, Jerry Nichols, Beverly Schafer, Diane and Steve Tuttle, Lynn Wheatley and Connie Wiese; OSU-Tulsa Marketing and Public Relations Director Dr. Mary Bea Drummond and Associate Vice President for Development at OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences Marlo Duffy.

For ticket information for the May 20th gala to be held at OSU-Tulsa, contact Marlo Duffy at (918) 594-8014.

We wish everybody the best in health and happiness, and, if you’re out and about, cruise on down old Route 66 of I-44 and see us at Crown Bristow at 910 South Roland. We’ll be happy to visit, and we’ll beat any deal!

Updated 09-27-2005

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