DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University president Sean Burrage regularly eats lunch in the Student Union cafeteria. It provides an opportunity for him to visit with students, faculty, staff and visitors in an informal way.
He altered his lunch plans somewhat Thursday, opting to attend a chili bowl fundraiser put together by the Southeastern Visual Arts and Ceramic Organization (VACO). For $15, attendees received a hand-crafted chili bowl (and free food).
A few hours later, the president received an unexpected visit in his office from three VACO representatives – advisor-professor Jack Ousey, assistant advisor Russell Poole, and organization president Sierra Kovash.
The visitors were there to present proceeds from the fundraiser ($515) to the University during this time of severe budget challenges.
During the current fiscal year, Southeastern’s budget has been reduced by $3.6 million.
“I can’t really put into words what this gesture (donation) means to me,’’ Burrage said. “I would say that I am surprised, but then I’m not. There’s something very special about this University and this is just another example. As president, I am fortunate to see those special things every day. I truly appreciate the fact that this organization has demonstrated how much it cares about Southeastern.’’
“We (VACO) talked about it, and just felt it (donation) was the right thing to do,’’ Ousey said. “This is a fundraiser that we have held off-and-on for the last 10 years or so.’’
The lunch was served up Thursday in the Visual Arts Building on campus, and the bowls were crafted by members of VACO.
Poole is a Southeastern graduate from Yuba, and Kovash is a senior business management major from Durant.