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Seemingly small droplets of wisdom passed from professor to student are being carried on by East Central University alumni and making big splashes beyond campus. Dr. Larry Choate, named 2022 ECU Distinguished Former Faculty, is fondly remembered for his sayings, caring nature, and support of his many students over the years.

Choate first came to ECU in 1995 as assistant professor of Biology. Before his retirement, Choate was promoted to associate professor and then professor. He was awarded the prestigious Teaching Excellence Award in 2000, supported several student organizations, and was granted Professor Emeritus status at his retirement in 2015.


“Dr. C uttered those fateful words ‘show me the data’ in response to a classmate,” a Biology alumni wrote. “This one sentence has had an immeasurable impact on my career. It is a succinct summation of the essence of being a scientist. ‘Don’t tell me what to think, just show me the data.’”

“Science is not set in stone,” Choate said. “It’s a system to evaluate the data. Don’t show me the conclusion, show me the data and I’ll make up my mind.”

Many former students did just that and presented the data in nominating Choate for the Distinguished Former Faculty Award.

“Dr. Choate is without a doubt one of my favorite memories at ECU,” a former student said nominating Choate for the award. “I was incredibly lucky and blessed for Dr. Choate to take me under his wing and guide me along the way. Without his guidance, I am not sure I would have finally reached my dream.”

“Dr. Choate cared about many students often times more than they even cared about themselves,” another former student wrote. “He used those opportunities to encourage and challenge the students to show them what they could achieve.”

“His demeanor was so kind and uplifting,” a former student worker said, “students flocked to his office for advice, and he never failed to deliver.”

Yet another alum said, “Dr. Choate provided a common sense, interactive, hands-on educational experience in each course he instructed.” Choate also helped prepare this student for real interviews. “This rehearsal even included instruction on the appropriate way to button a sports coat.”


“This modest sentence may not mean much to a casual observer, but it was one of Dr C’s most well-known utterances,” a student wrote. “It was a unique and genius way of describing biology: everything is different, but it is all the same. It became a mantra for all of his pupils.”

Choate said the saying, sometimes said as “parts is parts,” is a way to remind his students to not get too wrapped up in the minutia and look at the big picture.

“So while ‘parts are parts,’ faculty are not faculty,” the student continued. “Some are better, some are worse and some, like Dr. C., are truly exceptional. He embodies the spirit of ECU and in my humble opinion, there is no one more deserving of this honor than him.”

“They give me more credit than I deserve. I just tried to point them in the right direction and stay out of the way,” Choate said. “I am surprised and humbled by this award. I am really honored, and even humbled all these students took time from their schedules to write on my behalf.”

 “He has not poured himself into the lives of students for recognition, but rather to simply make a positive impact on their lives,” an alum said of Choate.

“I was most concerned with student’s success. Because my philosophy is that if my students are not successful, then I’m not successful, because that is what I was hired to do. I was at ECU because the students were there. They weren’t there because I was,” Choate said.

And he said ECU was exactly where he wanted to be.

“Hopefully I did some good while I was there. ECU did a lot of good for me because that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be around the troops and not in a peer research environment. I enjoyed my time at ECU and I met some interesting characters. It was a good experience for me.”

Choate will be formally recognized at ECU’s Evening of Honors and Recognition Friday, May 6, at the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center.

Sponsorships are available at various levels for the event including a Gold Sponsorship for $3,000; a Silver Sponsorship for $1,500; and a Bronze Sponsorship for $250.

Gold Sponsors include Dr. Tawfik Ramadan and The Chickasaw Nation. Silver sponsors are Jeremy Humphers, YS Asset Management, ECU Foundation, Inc. Bronze sponsors include Donnie and Shirley Nero, Citizens Bank of Ada, Tinker Federal Credit Union, Dr. Cheper, George Huckeby, Deborah Cornelison, JB Sanford and Dee Ann Schroyer, First United Bank, Commercial Federal Credit Union, and the ECU Alumni Association.

Individual tickets are also available for $75 each. Advance tickets are recommended.

To register, contact Ashia Todd at or at 580-559-5724 or visit

Dr. Choate standing in waves holding a net with small fish in it

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