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ADA – The East Central University Black Alumni Association honored lifetime educator and ECU alum Donnie Nero with its prestigious Trailblazer Award as part of the program for the annual Louise Young Diversity Lecture on campus Thursday night.

A native of Spencer, Oklahoma, Nero graduated from Dunjee High School in 1967. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from East Central University in 1971. Nero earned his master’s degree in Educational Administration in 1977 and his doctorate in Occupational and Adult Education in 1993, both from Oklahoma State University.

Nero progressed through the ranks at Tulsa Community College to become Provost of the TCC Southeast Campus. He then achieved the presidency of Connors State College in 2000, becoming the first African American to lead a predominantly non-black college or university in the state of Oklahoma. Under his leadership, Connors experienced record student enrollment and campus renovation. He retired from the presidency in 2011.

In 2002, ECU named Nero a Distinguished Alumnus. In 2010, the ECU Educators Hall of Fame inducted him, along with fellow alum Jimmy Scales, making them the first African Americans to receive that honor. Also in 2010, Nero founded the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame Inc., and currently serves as its president.

In 2016, Nero completed two terms as chair of the Office of Juvenile Affairs. He is a founder of the Oklahoma Legal Issues Conference, a graduate of Leadership Tulsa Class XVIII, and Oklahoma state coordinator of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. In addition, he is a member of the Oklahoma Global Education Consortium.

The ECU Black Alumni Association presented Nero with the Trailblazer Award preceding the 2020 Louise Young Diversity Lecture that featured Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose father was instrumental in the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education. He is the second person to receive the Trailblazer Award. The inaugural winner, Dr. Shirley Mixon, introduced Nero at the lecture.


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