The year 2016 presented many opportunities for Oklahoma Christian University to expand its faith, culture and community. This year also brought change to campus with well-known members of the Oklahoma Christian community moving on to new phases of life and others making themselves at home.
Dan Hays announced he was “resigning, not retiring,” after 33 years as Oklahoma Christian’s head basketball coach.
On Jan. 30, the band Judah and the Lion performed on campus as a fundraiser for the Oklahoma Christian Counseling Center.
The annual History Speaks event brought 1968 Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith to campus to share their stories and experiences standing up for civil equality. Both Carlos and Smith competed in the 200-meter dash in Mexico City. Carlos received a bronze on the podium and Smith took gold. Together, as they stood for the playing of the National Anthem, the silent gesture of a raised fist solidified their places in history.
After months of planning and practicing, the 47th annual Spring Sing brought the ‘Land That We Love’ to Hardeman Auditorium. “Spring Sing is a flavor of the personality a club possesses,” member of Phi Omega Nu Laine Weatherford said.
Cory Cole became Dan Hays’ successor as the men’s basketball head coach. Cole, an Oklahoma Christian alumnus, joined the program after serving as an assistant head coach for the women’s basketball program at Grand Canyon University for several seasons.
“It’s a huge opportunity following Coach Hays, a legend,” Cole said. “I love that pressure, expectation and opportunity. Our goal is to be the best. I think I can come in and duplicate that success the Oklahoma Christian basketball program has accomplished in the past, but in my own way.”
Sally Gary, author of “Loves God, Likes Girls,” gave a keynote lecture addressing the topic of same-sex attraction on a Christian campus. In her speech, Gary addressed questions of how Christians should respond to gay marriages and how Christians should navigate the topic as followers of Christ.
The McGaw Lecture Series welcomed Yale scholar and theologian Miroslav Volf to speak on the correlation and contrasts between the Christian and Muslim faiths.
Team USA brought home 121 medals (38 gold, 37 silver and 46 bronze) from the 30th summer Olympics held in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The U.S. medal count gave the country the largest margin (51 more medals than second-place China, with 70 medals overall) between first and second place in the medal count since the 1932 games, when the U.S. beat Italy by 67 medals.
Josh Davis, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, was named head coach for Oklahoma Christian’s new swim program. The addition of a swim program brought Oklahoma Christian to a total of 16 sports. The swim team will begin competition in fall 2017.
Oklahoma Christian welcomed new freshman counselors Braeden Fair and Kassi Long to the Student Life staff. Kirby Killen replaced Amy Roberts as Director of Freshman Experience.
U!Shine, a non-profit organization created by Jennifer Winton an Oklahoma Christian alumna, introduced new programs to break the stigmas of mental health issues for students. The U!Learn series addressed general mental health topics as a seven-week series. The second program, titled Healthy Brain, Healthy Mind, is an program focused on building resilience towards mental illnesses.
Singer-songwriter Ben Rector returned to campus to fulfill a promise and perform. During a Skype call at Earn Your Wings 2015, Rector promised to return to campus for a second time. He kept his promise and returned bringing singer-songwriter Jacob Whitesides along on Oct. 7 in the Thelma Gaylord Forum.
Russell Westbrook, starting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, visited campus to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump won the election over Democratic Candidate Hilary Clinton and will become the 45th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017.