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James R. Hamby, president of Vision Bank-Ada, and former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh will be the keynote speakers as East Central University conducts its commencement exercises on Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Kerr Activities Center.

Hamby will address the candidates in the 10 a.m. ceremony while Nigh will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony. There are 397 candidates for bachelor’s degrees and 161 for master’s.

James R. Hamby

Hamby, a longtime fixture in the Ada community and president of Vision Bank-Ada since 1990, has served as president of both the Ada Chamber of Commerce and Ada Jobs Foundation.

Graduating from Weleetka High School in 1969, Hamby attended ECU from 1969-1973, graduating with a B.S. in education with a major in chemistry and a minor in biology. While at ECU, he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity along with participating in the Interfraternity Council. He still continues his support as an alumni advisor for the Pikes.

Hamby was in the Army ROTC where he served as a Cadet Corp Commander, was a member of the Pershing Rifles, awarded the DAR Award and was honored as a Distinguished Military Graduate. He was ECU’s first ROTC graduate to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant upon graduation.

After serving in the Army in the 1st Calvary Division from 1973-1977, Hamby launched his banking career as a teller at the First National Bank of Temple, Texas and ultimately returned to Ada in 1983 as executive vice president and chief lending officer for the First National Bank and Trust Company (now Vision Bank).

Since being back in Ada, Hamby has actively been involved in organizations at ECU. He was a trustee of the Briles Educational Trust from 1990-95 and administered turning it over to the ECU Foundation, Inc. He was on the Finance Committee of the ECU Foundation for numerous years and served several terms on the Board of Trustees in addition to serving as president twice.

Hamby has been a board member of the Ada Industrial Development Corporation, plus founding president of the Tri-County Community Development Corporation. He was chairman of the committee that passed the sales tax and obtained grants to build the Pontotoc County Agri-Plex.

Hamby served on the board of the Southern Oklahoma Addiction Recovery and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole.

Professionally, Hamby has been instrumental in the Oklahoma Bankers Association where he served three terms on the board and has been involved in numerous capacities with the American Bankers Association.

Hamby resides in Ada with his wife Shelley and has three daughters and five grandchildren. He is a member of the Lions Club of Ada and has been for 38 years and is an active member of Ada First Baptist Church. His hobbies include golfing, fishing, hunting and skeet shooting.  

Gov. George Nigh

Nigh’s speech will mark the 70th consecutive year in which he has delivered at least one commencement address. He has spoken at various commencement ceremonies as many as eight times in one year.

He delivered his first commencement address when he was an East Central State College senior in 1950 at a two-room, eighth grade rule school in Pittsburg County.

Nigh, a 1950 graduate of East Central University (then called East Central State College), served as the 17th and 22nd Governor of Oklahoma.


In 1950, Nigh began a 32-year career in public office. He was the youngest member of the House of Representatives when he was elected and taught at McAlester High School, taking a leave of absence in alternate years that the Legislature met.


At the age of 31 in 1958, Nigh was elected lieutenant governor, the youngest in state history and the youngest in the nation at that time. He lost his bid for governor in 1962, but briefly served as governor of Oklahoma for nine days from Jan. 6-14, 1963 after the death of U.S. Sen. Robert Kerr. The sitting governor J. Howard Edmondson resigned in order to be appointed by Nigh to fill Kerr’s seat.


In 1966, Nigh was elected lieutenant governor and served in that capacity until being elected governor in 1978 and ultimately being re-elected in 1982.


Some of his achievements, include being the first Oklahoma Governor to be re-elected and the first to win all 77 counties in the state. He appointed the first two women – Yvonne Kauger and Alma Wilson – to serve as justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He is also credited with increasing the numbers of minorities serving on state boards and commissions as well as management of state agencies. In addition, Nigh introduced legislation designating “Oklahoma!” as the state song.


During his career in public service, he chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, co-chaired the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, served on the Executive Committee of the Southern States Energy Board, chaired the southern Growth Policies Board and presided over the Council of State Governments.

Nigh was a recipient of the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award and was honored as ECU’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1977.


He later served as president of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.


Born on June 9, 1927, Nigh served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-1946. He graduated from McAlester High School and Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton.


He and his wife Donna head the Donna Nigh Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.



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