The State Senate honored the life and contributions made to education in Oklahoma by Dr. Garland Godfrey on Monday. Senate Resolution 11, by Senator Clark Jolley, praises the career of Godfrey who served as the 16th President of the University of Central Oklahoma.
"Dr. Godfrey was an incredible human being who dedicated 40 years of his life to educating others and I believe there is no greater gift that one can give," said Jolley, R-Edmond. "He was truly a pioneer in education. He worked at all levels of education and at the end of his career he changed the face of what has become one of the Oklahoma's and the nation's premiere state universities."
Godfrey was born one of ten children in November 1909 in rural Arkansas to cotton farmers. He graduated from Magazine industrial Institute in 1928, where was class Valedictorian. He attended Arkansas Tech University for two years, then transferred to what was then Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1933, a Masters degree in English in 1936, and received his Doctorate in Education in 1957.
He received his first teaching job in Kansas, Oklahoma in 1933 and a year later was chosen as high school principal. He served as Superintendent of Pryor Schools from 1939 to 1952, then as Superintendent of Durant Schools from 1952 to 1960.
In 1960, at the age of 50, Godfrey was selected as President of Central State Teachers College in Edmond, Oklahoma, a position he held for 15 years until his retirement in 1975. During his tenure as President, enrollment grew from 3,500 students to 15,000. In 1971 the college was designated Central State University, the state's third largest university. The school was reorganized into five undergraduate schools and a graduate school. Also during his tenure, 21 of the buildings on campus were either erected or renovated, and the campus expanded from 20 to 200 acres. Teaching, scholarly research and direct service were main focuses under his direction.
Godfrey served as President of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators in 1949; as President of the Oklahoma Education Association in 1950 and 1951; as a Fullbright Visiting Educator in Pakistan in 1964; and as a Director of the National Education Association for twelve years.
In 1960, Godfrey received an award for Outstanding Educational Leadership from the Durant Board of Education. He was named to the Hall of Distinction of Arkansas Tech University in 1968 and was then recognized with a Boss of the Year Award by the Jaycees in 1972. He was selected to receive the Edmond Citizen of the Year Award in 1973 and was also inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 1995.
"Our hearts are heavy and go out to Dr. Godfrey's family. He was one of our state's finest educators and he will be greatly missed," said Jolley.
Godfrey passed away on February 14, 2007, in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 97.