ADA – Mike Cantrell has been named East Central University’s 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year and will deliver the annual Limes Lecture to college and visiting high school students after accepting the honor next week.
Cantrell, of Ada, has made his mark as a trailblazer in the energy sector for close to four decades. Currently leading several petroleum-related businesses, his name is synonymous with success in his field. He is also recognized for his robust civic leadership.
“I am honored that ECU would name me as Entrepreneur of the Year,” Cantrell said. “I know I’ll be joining an illustrious group to have won this award.”
Cantrell, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from ECU in 1972, will address young entrepreneurs during the award luncheon portion of the event on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center. An entrepreneurial competition among high school students, called Tiger Tank, will also be featured during the event.
“I received a good liberal arts education at ECU that has served me well in all areas of my professional life – in industry, in politics, in leadership and communications,” Cantrell said. “It also taught me to understand others. All these things gave me a head start in business.”
Among the professors that Cantrell cited as mentors during his time as a student at ECU were Drs. Gerald Williamson and Eric Stiger in the Business department and Drs. Thelma Davies and Roy Maxwell in the Psychology department.
“Mike was a pleasure to have in class,” said Williamson, who is retired from teaching and now represents the ECU Foundation. “Mike is a thinker, but he is also a doer. That’s a potent combination and I’m not the least bit surprised about all his success.”
Cantrell’s professional résumé is a very impressive read. In addition to his successful private businesses, he has served on numerous state and national boards and committees that advise or regulate the petroleum industry and beyond. Among his myriad career highlights are co-founding and chairing the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, the nation’s first oil field site mitigation and education program, and serving as president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
“In our lives, we have careers that last 40 to 50 years, but it’s that experience of four to five to six years in college that lays the foundation for success,” Cantrell said. “It’s more about the well-rounded education you get. And I certainly got that at ECU.”
The annual Limes Lecture is named for Leonard Limes, who attended ECU in the post-war 1940s. Limes is a successful geologist, attorney and entrepreneur from Konawa, Oklahoma, who established the lectureship in 2000 with a $25,000 gift to the ECU Foundation.