The Woodward News

December 4, 2013

Big day for NWOSU-Woodward

Major gift endows lectureship, supports several areas

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Northwestern Oklahoma State University officials announced Tuesday the acceptance of a generous endowment donation from Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook and the Stock Exchange Bank.

NWOSU President Dr. Janet Cunningham made the announcement during a brief ceremony at the Woodward campus Tuesday morning.

"It is with great pleasure and gratitude that I announce that the Stock Exchange Bank and Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook have made a private gift of $100,000 to Northwestern Oklahoma State University and its Woodward campus," Cunningham said.

She said the donation represents "a new level of community support" for the Woodward campus, which recently celebrated the 5th anniversary of its dedicated campus facility.

That's because the "multifaceted" gift includes the establishment of the Stock Exchange Bank/Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook Endowed Lectureship in Business, which is the first major academic faculty endowment for the Woodward campus, she said.

The portion of the Benbrooks' gift designated for the lectureship "will be matched by the State of Oklahoma Board of Regents to create a $50,000 endowment to support business faculty at the Woodward campus," she said.  "It's definitely a milestone that bodes well for the continued success and growth of our Woodward campus."

Chancellor Glen D. Johnson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education also commented on the importance of the lectureship endowment, but via pre-recorded remarks as he was unable to attend Tuesday's ceremony due to the state regents' budget meeting.

Johnson said that through lectureship endowments like the Benbrooks', "we have the opportunity to bring nationally acclaimed faculty and lecturers to our campuses in Oklahoma and thus provide greater learning opportunities for our students."

In addition to the lectureship endowment, Cunningham said other portions of the Benbrooks' donation will go toward supporting scholarship opportunities at the Woodward campus.  She said the gift will help create a new endowed scholarship for business students as well as offer continued support of an existing endowed scholarship in education, which the Benbrooks helped create with a previous donation to the university.

Furthermore, the $100,000 gift will also provide annual support of the NWOSU President's Association and the Woodward Campus Student Activity Fund.

"It's no surprise that this gift comes from the Stock Exchange Bank and Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook, because their record of support for the Woodward campus has been remarkable," Cunningham said.

Johnson agreed, noting that having known Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook for many years and long before he was ever named chancellor, "in my opinion there are not 2 more dedicated supporters and advocates of our students."

He noted how both Bruce and Sheryl Benbrook "have been very significant city and state leaders in their careers," especially in terms of education, including how they both played pivotal roles in the Woodward Education Foundation.

Johnson said that Tuesday's donation was just further evidence of the Benbrooks' dedication to education and he sincerely thanked them for that support.

"Bruce and Sheryl, thank you for your gift today and for your continued service to the State of Oklahoma," he said.

Dr. Deena Fisher, dean of the NWOSU-Woodward campus, also thanked the Benbrooks for their donation.

"The generous gift from Bruce and Sheryl and the Stock Exchange Bank helps to make qualified faculty and scholarships for our students available right here at home in Woodward and for that I'm so appreciative," she said.

Bruce Benbrook, who is the president of Stock Exchange Bank, also addressed the crowd at Tuesday's ceremony, explaining why he and his wife and the bank chose to make the donation to NWOSU-Woodward.

Benbrook spoke about the many different definitions of education.  "Education is helping someone realize their potential; education provides a light in the darkness," he said.

However, he said one of his favorite definitions is "education is an investment, never an expense."

When it comes to making a financial gift to support education, Benbrook said "I consider it an investment of the highest quality and one in which you receive the greatest return."

As for his $100,000 donation to NWOSU-Woodward specifically, he said the return will come in the success of those students who receive the scholarships and learn from the faculty which the donation has endowed.

"The Stock Exchange Bank has been in business for 110 years and that's what we do, we invest," Benbrook said.  "And there's no investment greater than to invest in the future students of Northwest Oklahoma through scholarships and lectureships."