One of the three major buildings constructed at East Central University during the presidency of Dr. Bill S. Cole will be formally dedicated in his honor on Nov. 29 [MONDAY]. The program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Estep Multimedia Center and is open to the public.
The University Center, which opened in January 1997, was renamed the Bill S. Cole University Center last February by the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma. Cole died on March 10 from cancer.
Speakers at the ceremony will include Dr. Glen D. Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, RUSO Regent Joanna Hibler, ECU President John Hargrave and Brent Cole, who will represent Cole’s family.
Hargrave called Cole a great leader with great vision and said ECU has flourished because of his leadership.
An East Central University employee attaches Dr. Bill Cole’s name to the west wall of ECU’s University Center recently. The building is now known as the Bill S. Cole University Center in honor of the late president. A dedication ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 29 [MONDAY] in the center’s Estep Multimedia Center.
Cole was called a builder because something on the campus was undergoing repairs, renovation or construction most of the years he served as president from 1989 until his retirement on June 30, 2006.
He oversaw 21 construction, renovation or expansion projects. The other large construction projects were Linscheid Library and the $27 million Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center which was under construction when he retired. Cole was instrumental in securing a $5 million gift from Mrs. Ford to get that project underway.
Cole also built relationships with people, agencies and organizations that helped enhance the university through grants and private gifts to attract high-quality faculty members and pay for physical improvements. He helped build new academic programs and kept abreast of the technology revolution, the biggest change during his presidency.
His accomplishments included 16 endowments of chairs, professorships and lectureships, approximately $100 million in grants, the growth of the ECU Foundation Inc. from less than $2 million to approximately $20 million in assets, and ECU's entry into NCAA Division II athletics.
Cole actually was president of a college or university for 30 ½ years. He was president of El Reno Junior College, now Redlands Community College, from 1976 until he came to ECU.
Born in Stuart, he grew up in McAlester where he graduated from high school in 1955. He was the first person in his family to go to college and could count about 40 degrees earned by those in his immediate family and their spouses when he retired.
He held an associate's degree from Eastern Oklahoma State College, a bachelor's degree in education from ECU, a master's degree in natural science from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University. He taught high school biology and science in Oklahoma City and Purcell and taught at Redlands before becoming an administrator.
Cole served two terms as chair of the Council of Presidents, an advisory council to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, and two terms as president of the Presidents' Council for the RUSO Board of Regents.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of the ECU Foundation Inc. He was a past president of the Ada Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the Boards of Directors of the Ada Area United Way and the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was a member of the Ada Sunrise Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow) and of numerous professional and civic groups in Ada and El Reno.
Cole was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Oklahoma Educators Hall of fame in 2005. He received the Distinguished Leadership Award in 2005 in Washington, D.C., from the Council of Opportunity in Education for his service to federal TRIO programs.
# # #