A few weeks ago, I dined with a college president. Dr. William Pennington arrived solo at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Bricktown, no entourage in tow. We ate lasagna and talked about the many things happening at Murray State College, a small two-year school in Tishomingo.
Pennington, 64, didn’t boast about his campus. He simply told me about the growing nursing program, the rise in enrollment at the main campus and at an outreach campus in Ardmore, and an upcoming historical symposium about former Oklahoma Governor “Alfalfa Bill” Murray.
I told him about my rural roots, and the community college I attended and thrived at, many years ago. We talked about his historical portrayals of Murray, a difficult yet brilliant man responsible for drafting much of the state constitution. We talked about Dr. Pennington’s marriage on July 7, 2007 (Lucky 7s) to Marty Pedersen, a professor at East Central University. It seemed to me that at age 64, Dr. Pennington had found great joy and happiness.
I left the meeting wanting to visit Murray State and knowing I could call Dr. Pennington anytime.
The last thing he said to me was that he was sorry he couldn’t buy my lunch that day. (Our company policy prohibits that.) I haven’t turned in that $6 expense yet to my bosses and I probably won’t. It was my pleasure to spend an hour with a man that reminded me a lot of my dad, a down-to earth guy that valued history, family and learning.
Susan Simpson, Education Writer