Homecoming Honorees

Six alums and a major fundraiser for the university will be honored in Wayland Homecoming Chapel at 11 a.m. Friday in Harral Auditorium.

W. Duane Harris, a 1966 Wayland graduate and later director of the International Choir, will open chapel by directing the current choir, Wayland Singers and alumni choir members in “Come Thou Fount,” an arrangement by another former director, James D. Cram.

Courtney Pruett, president of the Student Alumni Council will read scripture and lead the invocation. Ten Homecoming Queen candidates will be introduced with the winner to be crowned at halftime of Saturday’s football game between Wayland and Howard Payne.
Dr. Philip Carlson, a 2007 graduate, and now a professor at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., will be the Alumni Math and Science speaker at 1:30 p.m. in Moody Science Building 110. The public is invited.

All Distinguished award recipients and graduates of 50 years or longer will be honored at the annual Legacy League Luncheon and Distinguished recipients also will be honored at a reception from 3:30-5 in the Gates Hall Auditorium.

Friday’s cookout and pep rally have been moved to Hutcherson Center due to the threat of inclement weather. The first of two presentations of “Shorts” by the Theater Department will be at 7:30 in the Black Box Theater (same time on Saturday; reservations can be made by calling 291-1060).

The American Water Color Society Awards Exhibition will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Abraham Art Gallery.

Saturday’s schedule includes the Athletics Hall of Honor inductions at 9:30 in the Laney Center lobby, an International Choir reunion at 10 in the Miller Recital Hall; and free food and ice cream for 12:45 to 2 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.

At least 11 members of the Honor Class of 1966, hosted for a Friday morning breakfast, will receive medallions at chapel. A large contingent of the 1974-78 classes is expected. All classes ending in 6 also will be recognized.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Dana West was named Superintendent of Amarillo Independent School District in 2015 after serving as Executive Director of Student Performance for the Caprock Cluster for two years.

A graduate of Plainview High School, she graduated magna cum laude from Wayland in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She earned her master’s degree in administration from Wayland in 1992 and received her doctorate in educational leadership from Texas Tech in 2000. She holds mid-management administrator and superintendent certifications.

Dr. West has been an adjunct professor for Wayland since 1999, teaching online education courses. Dana started her career as an elementary teacher in Plainview. She later was a high school assistant principal, staff developer and junior high principal at Estacado Junior High, which was named one of the “Best Public Schools in Texas” by Texas Monthly Magazine. She was named the Outstanding Principal for Region 17 in 2003 and again in 2006.

Dana and her husband Randy have two grown daughters, and one grandson.

Distinguished Lifetime Service Award: A name synonymous with Wayland Baptist University for almost half a century is Dr. Estelle Owens, Emeritus Professor of History after more than 41 years of service to the WBU. She also continues to hold the title of University Historian after retiring last May. She graduated from Wayland in 1971, received a Master of Arts from Baylor in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Auburn University in 1983. In 1992, she was named an Outstanding Female Graduate at Auburn.

She returned to Wayland to join the faculty in 1974 and served as Dean of the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences for 30 years. She provided much of the material for a “coffee table” book during the Wayland Centennial in 2008 and is working on a definitive history of Wayland. She has won many honors, was named Distinguished Alumni in 2012 and a scholarship in her honor was endowed in 2009.

Distinguished Leadership Alumni Award: Dr. Caleb Oluremi Oladipo, who received his BA degree in religion with a minor in philosophy from Wayland in 1984, recently was named The Snellings Endowed Chair of Christian Evangelism and Missions at the Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C.

He previously was the Duke K. McCall Professor of Christian Mission & World Christianity and director of the Mission Immersion Experience Program at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. before taking the new post. Before joining the Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003, Dr. Oladipo was an assistant professor in the Department of Church-State Studies at Baylor University and an adjunct professor at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

He is a widely-respected scholar, lecturer, and instructor in world religions and Christian doctrines and has authored two books. He and his wife Christianah have three grown children.

Distinguished Service Alumni Award: Longtime Plainview educators Walter Wright, BA’75, and Sharon Wright, BA’74, MEd’89: Walter, who has his master’s degree in music from the University of North Texas, directed the PHS Choir for 31 years with 21 Texas All-State Choir members and five  Outstanding Performers at University Interscholastic League Texas State Solo-Ensemble contests. He has held numerous posts with the Texas Music Educators Association over the past 32 years.

Sharon Wright is beginning her 38th year as a public school educator, most of that time in Plainview. She served for 19 years as principal of La Mesa Elementary and she is currently serving as Executive Director for Curriculum and Instructional Services for Plainview ISD. She is a past state president of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association and in 2012-2013 was the Texas representative to the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Sharon is a Past President of the Plainview Lions Club and the Wrights have served several local and area churches in their music ministry. The Wrights have two children and four grandchildren.

Young Alumni Award: Bessie Ann Reed Christenson majored in Elementary Education and minored in Religious Education at Wayland, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary studies. She received her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. She is a summa cum laude graduate of both institutions.

She is a Contract Provider for The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, providing ongoing counseling services to individuals, couples, play, adolescent, and families, many of whom have experienced abuse. She also has worked at four other Fort Worth area mental health agencies and also acts as the mental health consultant for the African American-faith based project with Great Mt. Tabor Christian Center. She and her husband, John, have a 4 ½-month-old son.

Distinguished Benefactor Award: Barbara Gilley was the driving force behind the first Lubbock Lights Gala for Wayland’s Lubbock campus in the spring of 2006 and has remained so over the past 10 years, helping raise more than $100,000. A generous donor herself, she was honored at the Tenth Annual Lubbock Lights Gala in 2016.

A scholarship named in her honor will help ensure that Barbara’s passion and devotion to the Lubbock campus will live on through young women seeking a degree in business. Barbara is married to Dr. Billy Philips. She has two sons and five grandchildren.

Homecoming Queen candidates include:
Kierra Boyce is a junior Legal Studies major from Killeen Texas, sponsored by the Information Technology Office.

Emily Rose Brown of Aurora, Colorado, is a senior sports management major, sponsored by the Exercise and Sports Science Club.

Representing the Black Student Association is Kendra Castillo-Bates, a senior criminal justice major from Amarillo, Texas.


Brylee Gover, a senior instrumental music education major from Lubbock, Texas, is representing the Wayland Pioneer Marching Band.

Ellen “Ellie” Hedlund, a junior elementary education major from New Cuyama, Calif., is sponsored by the School of Education and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The International Choir is represented by Elizabeth Johnson, senior vocal performance major from Carlsbad, N.M.

A business administration major, senior Isabel Morales of Plainview is representing the School of Business.

Courtney Pruett, a junior fitness management major from Henrietta, Texas, is sponsored by the Office of Advancement.


El Paso senior Mayra Ramirez, an accounting major, is sponsored by Enactus.

Heather Seward, a senior instrumental music education major from Bovina, Texas, is representing Kappa Kappa Psi.