Northwestern to honor Phillips for contributions to Woodward campus

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Northwestern to honor Phillips for contributions to Woodward campus

July 6, 2010

Northwestern Oklahoma State University will honor longtime civic leader and Woodward Industrial Foundation president LaVern Phillips for his contributions to the success of its Woodward Campus during a public reception there on Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m.

As part of the program, Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern, will dedicate the LaVern Phillips Executive Conference Room as a tribute to his efforts to support higher education and improve the quality of life in Woodward.

“From the very first discussions about building a campus for Northwestern in Woodward, LaVern Phillips proved to be a most effective advocate,” Cunningham said. “He recognized the value of having a campus in Woodward and worked tirelessly to make it happen. The campus that stands today would not have been possible without his efforts or leadership.

“Working through the Woodward Industrial Foundation, Mr. Phillips was the catalyst in bringing together local leaders and groups to work toward a common goal. Every student that attends Northwestern-Woodward should appreciate the years of work that went in to building this campus. We are pleased to be able to honor him for his contributions.”

When legislation authorized Northwestern to establish a campus in Woodward in 1996, Phillips and the Woodward Industrial Foundation helped the school secure temporary quarters at High Plains Institute of Technology and Woodward High School, and later at the First American Bank building.

In 2005, Phillips took an active role in lobbying the Oklahoma Legislature to approve a $475 million capital bond issue that included $2.5 million for the Woodward Campus. Later that fall, Phillips, Rep. Jeff Hickman and Secretary of Agriculture Terry Peach played key roles in securing land on 34th Street for the new campus.

As plans for the campus were developed, Phillips worked to bring several units of local and county government together to maximize the available resources and create a vision for the area, which included the conference center that is planned just south of the campus.

“Phillips has always had a vision and a passion for making Woodward the best that it can be,” Cunningham said. “Progressive communities always have those leaders. In Woodward, it is LaVern Phillips.”

Cunningham said Northwestern chose to name the campus conference room in Phillips’ honor because it is a place where future leaders will come together to chart Woodward’s future course.

“I can’t think of a more fitting legacy than that.”