Alumni Spotlight

Ph.D. Alumnus James Bishop visits
Spears Business for an early Homecoming

Jennie Melendez
  (October 30, 2017 at 8:47 am)

James Bishop shares his Spears Business memories.

Homecoming was still one week away but Oklahoma State University economics alumnus James Bishop (Ph.D., 2016) made an early pilgrimage back to his alma mater at Spears School of Business in early October.

Born and raised on the big island of Hawaii, Bishop made his decision to come to OSU as an undergraduate student like he appears to make every decision, methodically and well-researched.

“I knew I was a National Merit Scholar, and when the scholarship offers started coming in, the very best offer was from OSU. So, that made my decision for me,” he said. “I looked it up and the best LSAT scores came from economics and math majors, so I majored in economics.”

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Spears School Alumni Q&A: Taber LeBlanc

Jennie Melendez
  (September 26, 2017 at 10:22 am)

Taber LeBlanc (right) and wife Julie (left).

Oklahoma State University alumnus Taber LeBlanc is the man behind Oklahoma City home building industry leader Homes by Taber. And it was at OSU’s business school that LeBlanc learned about leadership, marketing and achieving success in today’s ever-changing business climate.

Born in Wichita, Kansas but raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, LeBlanc came to Stillwater on a football scholarship and graduated with a management and marketing degree in 1999. Shortly thereafter, he married his high school sweetheart and began the business that is known today as a market leader, boasts increasing profits and continues to expand with its consistent success.

We recently asked LeBlanc how his business degree from OSU helped him to become the successful entrepreneur he is today. Continue Reading

A Q&A with MBA almunus Matthew Folks

Ariel West
  (November 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm)


With his wife, two dogs, three kids and a baby on the way, Matthew Folks pulled up his roots to move to Boston to start the next chapter of his life.

Matthew Folks

Matthew Folks

The Oklahoma State University online MBA graduate lived in a blue California home with his wife, Melissa, for seven years before deciding Harvard Law School was the next step in his journey. In his early years, Folks earned his bachelor’s from Brigham Young University, where he met his wife, Melissa, and served the Air Force through the ROTC program. Attending OSU gave Folks the motivation and confidence to pursue his law school dreams.

Read a Q&A from Matt Folks to learn about how OSU’s online MBA helped him on his journey: Continue Reading

OSU alum to serve in Jamaica for two years

Spears School News Staff
  (January 6, 2015 at 4:23 pm)

Brandon Newland will travel to Jamaica to offer his skills and perspectives he has gained through his travels and his OSU Master’s in international studies with a concentration in international development.

(Editor’s Note: Brandon Newland is a Spears School of Business graduate, earning his bachelor’s degree in international business in 2001 and a master’s degree in international studies in 2013).

Story by Bridget Higginbotham

Life has taken Oklahoma State University alumnus Brandon Newland (‘13) all over the world, from Mexico, to Russia, to Korea. His next destination: Jamaica. There, the Wisconsin-native will spend at least two years as a lay missioner with Franciscan Mission Service, a Catholic nonprofit which prepares and supports lay missioners in order to address issues of poverty.

“The excitement of doing something like this is to go and help others,” Newland said. “This is something that calls on everything I have done in my life to help the community in any way I can.”

While some might equate the Caribbean island nation as an Edenic paradise, the reality is far different. The country of 2.7 million makes at least 30 percent of its GDP from tourism, yielding 12.5 percent unemployment.

Newland and a fellow missioner will join Franciscan friars in Savanna la Mar on the western side of the island to work with the local community to address its spiritual and physical needs through the parish’s soup kitchen, clothing closet, infirmary, youth outreach, and more.
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Jerry Stritzke Says OSU Was Instrumental
In His Ascension To The Top Of Coach

Terry Tush
  (February 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm)

Jerry Stritzke addresses the crowd.

Jerry Stritzke grew up in Oklahoma, was a member of the FarmHouse fraternity at Oklahoma State University and was an aspiring farmer. So how is it that he ended up with an office on 34th Street in mid-town Manhattan, N.Y., as the president and chief operating officer for Coach, one of the world’s largest marketers of accessories and gifts for women and men?

That’s a good question and one he answered Thursday at the Executive Management Briefings speaker series coordinated by the Center for Executive and Professional Development and presented by OSU’s Spears School of Business in conjunction with corporate sponsors. Stritzke spoke on “The Magic and Logic of Going Global” to more than 400 people as part of the Executive Management Briefings at the Cox Business Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

“I have to say that Oklahoma State was a transformational experience for me. It was a very defining event,” said Stritzke, who earned a bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural economics from OSU and served as a judge for 4H livestock competitions while growing up in Stillwater. “OSU really kind of motivated me to embrace the idea of what was possible.”

Stritzke’s path after graduating from OSU took him to Norman (where he earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma), Chickasha (where he began his law career), and Tulsa (where he was part of the law firm of Best, Sharp, Sheridan & Stritzke before opening his own law practice). But he realized that being an attorney wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

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Two Spears School Of Business Graduates
Receive Forbes ‘Top 30 Under 30’ Honors

Terry Tush
  (January 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm)

Spears School of Business graduates Kayvon Olomi and Taylor Shinn were recently honored with the Forbes “Top 30 Under 30” achievement. Forbes Magazine recognized 30 outstanding business people under the age of 30 in 12 work fields that are making a difference.

Shinn and Olomi are both graduates of Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business. The Forbes “Top 30 Under 30” has not only distinguished these men as valuable to their work force but also as valuable to society. With diligence and persistence, Shinn and Olomi have broadened their horizons through a gateway that started at OSU.

Olomi, founder of AppTank, made his way into Forbes Magazine at the age of 26. AppTank is an online marketplace that matches mobile developers with application projects.

Kayvon and Hillary Olomi

“I like to measure success based upon if I have learned and gained skills from a venture,” Olomi said. “I believe it is best this way because even though a concept might fail, you gain invaluable experience and knowledge that you can capitalize on with future ventures. So always be sure to walk away with a story of success whether it be from a successful venture or one that failed.

“Another thing is always believe in it, because you believe in it and have passion for it, not because you believe it will make you rich. If you go into a venture for the money, you won’t make it,” said Olomi.

Olomi says “the overall tenure at OSU played a huge impact from the academics to the exposure. It was very well rounded and balanced experience throughout the years.”

Shinn, Senior Director of Corporate Development with Chesapeake Energy, found his place on the Forbes Magazine list at the age of 27. After earning his degree from the Spears School, Shinn has worked his way to the top tier of the Oklahoma City energy company’s natural gas department. Shinn is a part of Chesapeake’s partnership in building compressed natural gas fueling stations.

Taylor Shinn

“The SSB offered me many things while I pursued my undergraduate degree and provided me with the confidence and skills to work in the aggressive energy sector,” Shinn said. “Not only did I learn much about the dynamic fundamentals of finance, marketing, business development, and corporate management but the various programs and leadership opportunities within SSB enabled me to continue to refine business strategies and understand the development side of business.

Shinn has many to thank for making his climb at Chesapeake. “I’ve been blessed to work for and alongside incredible leaders at my company and have been mentored by wonderful people. My wife, Katie, my family, and my friends have been extremely supportive and encouraging of me and they deserve much of the credit,” he said.

“Furthermore, my past professors, both in my undergrad and graduate programs, helped give me a foundation on business principles and encouraged me to work hard. The Oklahoma State work ethic and team-oriented philosophy is something that sets all of us apart and is a key reason for anyone’s success.”

Both Shinn and Olomi’s recognition in Forbes Magazine can be found at

Q&A With Dennis Reilley (Part 2)

Terry Tush
  (October 3, 2011 at 9:32 am)

Dennis Reilley was a recent visitor to the Oklahoma State University campus and took the time to speak to several Spears School of Business classes. The Oklahoma State graduate (Finance degree) served as chairman, president and chief executive officer for seven years at Praxair before retiring in 2007, and held numerous positions with DuPont, including executive vice president and chief operating officer. In this video, he offers advice to current students as they prepare to begin looking for employment after graduating.

Q&A With Dennis Reilley (Part 1)

Terry Tush
  (October 3, 2011 at 9:13 am)

Dennis Reilley was a recent visitor to the Oklahoma State University campus and took the time to speak to several Spears School of Business classes. The Oklahoma State graduate (Finance degree) served as chairman, president and chief executive officer for seven years at Praxair before retiring in 2007, and held numerous positions with DuPont, including executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Visiting With Chuck Cargile: Part 2

Terry Tush
  (September 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm)

Chuck Cargile, a 1987 graduate of Oklahoma State University (accounting) who is now senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Newport Corporation in Irvine, Calif., recently visited with several classes at his alma mater and came away impressed. In this interview, he speaks about the type of people that Newport Corporation looks to hire and what students can do to prepare themselves to enter the workforce upon graduating.

Visiting With Chuck Cargile: Part 1

Terry Tush
  (September 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm)

Chuck Cargile, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Newport Corporation in Irvine, Calif., recently spoke with several Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business classes, and then shared his thoughts on that experience.

One-on-One With Chuck Cargile

Terry Tush
  (September 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm)

Chuck Cargile, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the Newport Corporation in Irvine, Calif., shared his thoughts on doing business in today’s world during his recent visit to speak to several classes at Oklahoma State University. Mr. Cargile earned his bachelor of science degree in accounting from OSU in 1987.

Larry Ferree Q&A: Part 3

Terry Tush
  (September 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm)

Larry Ferree was the first graduate from Oklahoma State’s MBA program in 1961. He recently took some time to visit about a variety of topics, including how impressed he is with how the Spears School of Business is preparing its students for life after college and the advice he would give students as they prepare to enter the business world.

Larry Ferree Q&A: Part 2

Terry Tush
  (August 31, 2011 at 7:18 am)

Larry Ferree was the first graduate from Oklahoma State’s MBA program in 1961. He recently took some time to visit about a variety of topics, including why it’s important for him to stay engaged with the Spears School of Business and his alma mater.

Larry Ferree Q&A – Part 1

Terry Tush
  (August 29, 2011 at 10:01 am)

Larry Ferree was the first graduate from Oklahoma State’s MBA program in 1961. He recently took some time to visit about a variety of topics, including his memories of being both an undergraduate and graduate student at Oklahoma State University.

From the Supermarket to Success: How One OSU Alumnus Achieved his American Dream

Spears School News Staff
  (February 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm)

In the United States, we have always been told to “Chase the American Dream” and been taught that through hard work, vigilance and determination we can all achieve great things and make our fantasies into realities. No American exemplifies this concept more than Oklahoma State University alumnus Jason Collins.

Collins, who graduated from OSU’s Spears School of Business in 2009 with a master’s degree in telecommunications management and a graduate certificate in information assurance, began his career as an employee at United Supermarkets in his hometown of Guymon, Okla. Through perseverance and an incredible work ethic, he not only climbed to a management position with United, but he also earned three degrees, is working on his fourth, and is now employed as a system administrator/network manager at the Lawton, Okla., branch of CGI Federal, a company that was rated No. 14 on BusinessWeek’s “Tech Hot Growth Companies” in 2010.  Continue Reading

Lessons learned at Spears School help Pepperdine dean

Spears School News Staff
  (July 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm)

Livingstone played basketball at OSU as an undergraduate. She said her athletic experience at the university helped shape who she is today. It provided her with opportunities to lead a team in difficult situations, an experience which has helped her in her career.

“Those leadership opportunities were really critical,” she said.

After completing her master’s degree, Livingstone and her husband moved to Woodward, where she worked as the director of a children’s recreation program. Not long after, the couple relocated to Enid, where she worked in a hospital business office. After spending about a year in Enid, Livingstone and her husband decided to return to OSU for graduate school. She pursued her doctorate while her husband worked on his master’s.

Livingstone said her time at OSU prepared her exceptionally well for her role at Pepperdine. She spoke in glowing terms of the faculty and the academic environment at OSU. The quality of education provided by the university was a major factor in her success, she said. That quality was a big part of why she chose to complete her undergraduate and both of her graduate degrees at OSU, she said.

“At all levels, and for different reasons, I felt like I was extremely well prepared,” she said.

One of the main things Livingstone gained from her time at OSU was a love of eduation, she said. Sometime during her time as a graduate student at OSU, she said, she realized that she enjoyed being in a university setting and decided to pursue a career in academia.

This realization led to a position as a professor in the Management and Entrepreneurship department at Baylor University. Eventually, she became the associate dean for graduate programs at the university. In 2002, she left Baylor for Pepperdine.

At Pepperdine, Livingstone directs the business school’s academic programs. She also oversees the school’s strategic plan and is heavily involved in outreach to alumni and other members of the community.

In developing a strategic plan for instruction at the university, Livingstone said she and her associate deans must always consider the school’s priorities. The school places a heavy emphasis on teaching students to think ethically about the business decisions they make, and consider how those decisions will impact society more broadly.

“Our mission is to develop value-centered leaders and to advance responsible business practices,” she said.

Livingstone said the business school also emphasizes practical application of knowledge. The business school operates a program in which students work as consultants on strategic projects for businesses. The students work in teams, she said, and four or five teams will be assigned to each project. The number of teams allows the business to hear several different perspectives on the same issue, she said.

One of the advantages of the program is that it allows students to encounter ethical questions in real-life situations. Livingstone said the students must consider those issues and come up with answers as a part of the project.

“It sort of closes the loop on the learning experience,” she said.

Although Livingstone has been away from Stillwater for several years, she said she still feels a strong connection to the area, as well as to OSU.


“I grew up at Oklahoma State,” she said. “It’s sort of been a part of my life from the beginning of my life.”