History of the East Central University Foundation, Inc.
The East Central University Foundation, Inc., was organized in February of 1970 when five alumni, W. Harvey Faust, R. Burl Harris, James A. Thomas Sr., Hugh Warren, and Oscar L. Parker filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Oklahoma. These five, plus Dr. Stanley P. Wagner, then president of ECU, contributed $2,000 each with which to begin the Foundation.
For the first twenty years, the Foundation experienced slow and steady growth. By 1990, the endowment had grown to approximately $2 million. The income from the investments was used almost exclusively to fund scholarships to incoming freshmen at ECU.
In the early 1990s, spurred on by a declining state economy due to the oil and gas “bust”, the Foundation decided to begin its first aggressive attempt to raise funds and to expand its service in a significant way to assist with the needs of the university in addition to scholarships. The “Foundation for the Future” campaign set an ambitious base goal of $1.2 million and a challenge goal of $1.750 million. By the close of the campaign in 1996, the campaign had exceeded all expectations, raising over $3 million. More importantly, a new spirit of giving had been kindled among alumni and friends of the University.
Over the past decade, the generous gifts of donors to the Foundation have assisted the University by furnishing the new Linscheid Library, refurbishing the World War I Memorial Gateway, constructing the Frank Crabtree Sr. Honor Plaza, restoring the ECU President’s Home, constructing the Sterling L. Williams Foundation and Alumni Center, providing a host of student scholarships and funding a number of other special endeavors.
As ECU begins its second century and the Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary, Foundation assets are at $20 million. An additional $4 million is deposited into State Regents accounts as matching funds to benefit ECU. The Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center and the Pat O’Neal Strength and Conditioning Building are the latest projects finished from funds donated by individuals through the Foundation. Several other major projects are also in the works.
Mr. Oscar Parker served as the first Executive Director (ED) of the Foundation, from its inception in 1970 until his retirement. Dr. Joe Parsons took over briefly before leaving to become interim President of ECU and Dr. James A. Thomas assumed the role in 1989. These three gentlemen served ECU and the Foundation for a combined total of over 180 years.
After Dr. Thomas retired in 2005, Debbie Griffin, who had served as the Accountant for the Foundation for several years, assumed the duties of interim Director in 2006. She was named as Executive Director in 2007, resigning in February 2008 to take another position in the Ada community. Mick Cowan, who taught accounting at ECU for 26 years, was appointed as the Executive Director in March of 2008, and retired in August 2009 to re-enter the teaching field.
Phyllis Danley was named to the position of Executive Director in September 2009. She has had a longtime affiliation with the University, graduating from ECU in 1973. Both of her parents taught at the University and were also ECU graduates, as were both of her siblings. Ms. Danley worked at the East Central Credit Union from October 1982 through October 2009, serving as CEO from 1995 through 2009.