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Alumni Landing: A New Tradition

“Alumni Landing” is a new tradition Dr. Philip Patterson has created to honor the achievements of former journalists at Oklahoma Christian University.

Each year, a luncheon will host a notable alumnus, along with those who have known them. Together, the graduate’s achievements will be recognized. That achievement, whether it be a plaque or some other award, will then be replicated and added to the “Alumni Landing,” the currently blank wall surrounding the raised area in the newsroom reserved for editor-in-chief of the Talon, Oklahoma Christian’s student-run newspaper.

“[This event] is humbling. It’s flattering and it’s very appreciated,” said Steve Lackmeyer, who was yesterday’s honored alumni in the tradition’s first-ever occurrence.

The luncheon recognized Lackmeyer’s recent induction into the Oklahoman’s Journalism Hall of Fame, a prestigious award.

“You’re chosen by a group of some of the most respected news people in the state,” Lackmeyer said. “It’s a recognition of your accomplishments, the work you’ve done over your career, and the difference you might’ve made in your community through the work you’ve done.”

After working for the Oklahoman for 32 years, Lackmeyer called his induction the ultimate honor.

Before the Oklahoman, Lackmeyer was the news editor for the Talon, alongside editor-in-chief Bobby Ross, sports editor Murray Evans and others. Ross, Evans and most others who attended the event yesterday had stories to tell.

Ross, who is now editor-in-chief of the Christian Chronicle, said Lackmeyer was always an aggressive reporter, intent on getting the news. This included a rally for George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign.

“There was a group of Oklahoma Christian republicans there and, at some point in this rally, some signs were knocked down from the democratic side by protestors and an Oklahoma Christian student was arrested,” Ross said. “Steve went really hard after that story and did it fairly and got the facts but was getting pressured by some people to not report it. I think that describes Steve: he’s fair, he works hard, and he’s not going to be intimidated when something is news.”

Ross also recounted a recent story of Lackmeyer’s in which he didn’t beat around the bush when calling out the demolition of an egg-shaped church and the resulting debris which endangered nearby motorists.

Evans, who has worked as Oklahoma Christian’s sports information director for 11 years, told the “Alf story,” for which there were three key ingredients.

First, Lackmeyer’s favorite tv show was the American sitcom “Alf.”

Second, Lackmeyer working three jobs to pay for school coupled with the Talon of their day being a physical paper which needed all of Wednesday night to prep for printing on Thursday led to an understandably “grumpy” Lackmeyer, especially the night he thought they forgot his birthday.

Third, there used to be a radio station where Eagle Media is now.

“… When Steve came back (from the darkroom), there was “Alf” blown up, sitting on his desk with a birthday cake and Steve was just totally shocked,” Evans said. “Later that night, we thought it would be funny to go spook the freshman DJ on the radio.

“So, Steve led the way, carrying the Alf doll, and we had a little parade through the communication department hallway and up to the window outside the studio. We snuck up below the window, held up the Alf doll, shook it, and then we all ran off. Somewhere there was a terrified freshman DJ.”

For a time after graduating, all three Talon writers worked together at the Oklahoman before embarking on separate careers.

“We’re all still good friends to this day,” Evans said. “I was really happy when Steve got into the Hall of Fame.”

Steve gave an acceptance speech at the luncheon thanking all those who influenced and helped him along the way.

Preceding that, President of Oklahoma Christian John deSteiguer spoke on the value and importance of this kind of event because Lackmeyer and his accomplishments still existed without proper recognition beforehand. And prior to all this was the grumpy but fun, fair and dedicated Lackmeyer of the Talon.

Now, after this event, the seniors of each Talon staff will see not just a new name on the wall, but a person with a story that began where they are now. Who knows, perhaps someday, as an alum, they’ll land their name there too.

Until then, there are decades worth of alumni with achievements, careers, and stories worth celebrating.

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