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ADA, Okla. – East Central University alumnus, Dr. Charles Burchell, is set to be honored at ECU’s Evening of Honors and Recognition, May 10 at 6 p.m. in the ECU Foundation Hall, located inside the Chickasaw Business & Conference Center.

A 1963 graduate of ECU, Burchell received his bachelor’s degree in biology. He left ECU having played for the ECU football team in the 1959 Christmas Bowl, 1960 Rice Bowl and the 1962 All Sports Bowl.

"I am honored and humbled to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumni of the University I truly love,” said Burchell. “My time at ECU served as a firm foundation to pursue additional degrees and education. Lessons learned at ECU influenced my attitudes and decisions throughout a full career and wonderful life."

After his time at ECU, Burchell continued to pursue his education by receiving his Master of Teaching in Physical Education at Southwest Oklahoma State University and his Ph.D. in Recreation Resource Planning and Development through Texas A&M University. He also became a National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) SCUBA Instructor during this time.

During the course of his education, and after, Burchell would serve in a variety of professional roles for schools such as Hobbs, N.M. High School, El Reno High School, Southwestern State University and Texas A&M University. However, it was at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), where he would spend the greatest portion of his career, spanning an impressive four decades, from 1972-2005.  

While at USM, Burchell served as Academic Department Chair and professor, and worked to gain regional and national recognition for the academic program. This was accomplished through hands-on service learning integrated into academic classes, through contract and grants with the military, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Park Service, as well as through individual service on national, regional, state, and community professional organizations.

Burchell also received the University Excellence in Teaching Award, was named the School of Human Performance & Recreation Outstanding Faculty, University Commencement Marshal, and the Dr. Charles Burchell Recreation Administration Endowed Scholarship was established under his name by a former student, among other accomplishments.

Through contracts with the U.S. Air Force, Burchell was director for Morale, Welfare, & Recreation Commander’s Conferences, director of USAF Reserve MWR Training series for USAF reserve bases, director of Air Force Pacific Command, Evaluation and Training Youth Recreation Programs and Facilities and USAF Evaluation, Planning and Design Hale koa Hotel and Fort DeRussy Armed Forces Recreation Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As a member of the National Recreation and Park Association, Burchell was a member of the President Ronald Reagan Transition Committee on national recreation, National Congress Program Committee, College Curriculum Committee, Council of Affiliate Presidents, Regional Conference Host Planning Committee, NRPA National Board of Trustees and served as chair for the Southern Regional Council and Regional Conference Program Planning Committee.

He also served in a number of roles as president, council, board member and award recipient for the Mississippi Recreation and Park Association as well as the State of Mississippi.

Burchell is also credited for establishing the SCUBA program at USM, which was seen as a natural continuance of his work as an instructor and coach. He has received a number of accolades, including recognition by the country of Belize as an ambassador of tourism and ecotourism, being awarded the Outstanding Service Award by NAUI and having the USM SCUBA facility named in his honor.

To purchase tickets for ECU Evening of Honors and Recognition, visit or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at or at 580-559-5724. Advanced tickets are recommended.

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