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OU Alumni News & Milestones

If you have an award or honor, life event or obituary to share with us, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

Brad Carson Sworn in as Undersecretary of the Army

brad carson

Secretary of the Army John McHugh swore in Brad R. Carson as the 31st Under Secretary of the Army, and Chief Management Officer of the Army, during an informal ceremony amongst family, friends and colleagues at the Pentagon.

Carson, a former Rhodes Scholar, earned his juris doctorate degree from OU’s College of Law in 1994.

"Brad Carson has a long and very proud history of serving this nation and knows what it's like to wear the uniform of this country," said McHugh prior to administering the oath of office.

Prior to being sworn in as the Army's second-highest civilian leader, Carson served as the Army's 20th General Counsel, a position held since 2012. In that capacity, he served as the legal adviser to the Secretary of the Army and the Army's chief legal officer.

As the Under Secretary of the Army, Carson's responsibilities include the Army's budget, diversity in the ranks, business transformation and energy efficiency initiatives.

In his remarks, Carson thanked his wife, Julie, and son, Jack, for their enduring support and spoke about his appreciation for the opportunity to continue representing the Army. He also highlighted his commitment to Soldiers, Army civilians and their family members.

"I am grateful to all of you for your public service. It is a great pleasure for me to work for the U.S. Army and to be the Under Secretary, following Dr. [Joseph W.] Westphal's steep example. I am enormously grateful for this opportunity," said Carson.

An enrolled tribal member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Carson represented the 2nd District of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives, served as a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and as the Chief Executive Officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses.

Carson also served on active military duty as a U.S. Navy officer deployed to Iraq, assigned to the U.S. Army's 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion.

"The Army stands at a critical moment in its history, challenged to reshape into a leaner force still capable of meeting the nation's strategic priorities. Nonetheless, the Army's obligations remain unchanged [and] I will do everything in my power to ensure the Army meets these important, often sacred, obligations, no matter the fiscal environment," Carson said during recent testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Carson's predecessor, Westphal, was confirmed March 26, by the U.S. Senate, to be the ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

If you have an award or honor to share with us, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

Brunsteter Honored by Pi Beta Phi


Betsy Guthrie Brunsteter has received Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award in honor of her professional achievements. Brunsteter is a principal at the architectural firm ADG, Inc. and used her architectural expertise to help revitalize downtown Oklahoma City.

Brunsteter earned her bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1979. She earned a master’s degree in architecture from OU in 1982.

The Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award is presented annually to distinguished alumnae of Pi Beta Phi who exhibit excellence and outstanding leadership in their career or volunteer service to their communities. The award is named for past Pi Beta Phi Grand President Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, who was instrumental in forming Pi Beta Phi Foundation during her term from 1985 to 1991. Crucial fraternity initiatives such as leadership development programs and academic scholarships are supported through the stewardship of the Foundation.

A licensed architect for more than 30 years, Brunsteter’s experience includes healthcare and technically complex facilities. She has been responsible for projecting programming, planning, executing contract documents, specifications and construction administration. Her certifications include the American Institute of Architecture, the American College of Healthcare Architecture and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional.

Brunsteter drew on her extensive professional experience to influence the recent renaissance of the City of Oklahoma City. She served and chaired numerous City committees, including: Urban Design Commission, Downtown Design Review and Planning Commission. Her involvement in these entities helped contribute to her being selected to serve as Arts Council of Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts Co-chair.

Brunsteter is a past recipient of The Journal Record’s Woman of the Year nominee and 50 Who Are Making a Difference in Oklahoma. She was a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class XXIV and Leadership Oklahoma City Class XX.

In addition to her successful career, Brunsteter finds time to tutor and mentor local students. She coaches an Odyssey of the Mind team, a program where students apply their creativity to solve problems, and then bring those solutions to local, state and national competitions. She also works for Leadership Oklahoma City’s Youth Leadership Exchange Skills Program, teaching high school students the skills necessary to be successful in life.

Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, Pi Beta Phi has installed 200 collegiate chapters and more than 300 alumnae organizations worldwide. Pi Beta Phi promotes friendship, develops women of intellect and integrity, cultivates leadership potential and enriches the lives of members and their communities.

Nowakowski Named Director of the Year

Brandi Nowakowski, an Associate with The West Law Firm of Shawnee, was recently designated as the “Director of the Year” for her work with the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division (YLD).  Nowakowski was recognized for her community service work on behalf of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) and especially for her coordinating role in the statewide 2013 OBA “Day of Service” program.

She received her B.B.A. in management from the University of Oklahoma, where she graduated magna cum laude in May 2006.  She received her J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in May 2010 and was admitted to the practice of law before all Oklahoma state courts in September 2010.

In addition, Nowakowski has been elected to a two-year term as the District Eight Director for the Young Lawyers Division.

“We are proud to see that the statewide Oklahoma Bar Association has recognized the contributions of Brandi Nowakowski, both to our statewide professional organization and to communities throughout Oklahoma,” said Terry West, founder of The West Law Firm.

“Here at The West Law Firm, we consider community service an important component in the work we do as lawyers and as a firm,” West said.

Nowakowski joined The West Law Firm in September 2010 and in her practice she focuses on general civil litigation with an emphasis in personal injury, products liability law and class actions.

Nowakowski has served on the OBA Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors since January 2012.  During 2013, she served as the YLD Community Service Chairperson.

Nowakowski, her husband Chris and their two sons, Ethan and Zachary, reside in Shawnee.

Downs Named Provost at Niagra University


A graduate of the University of Oklahoma has been named provost and chief academic officer at Niagara University.

Timothy M. Downs, Ph.D., had been serving as vice president for academic affairs at Niagara since June 2011. His new position was announced by The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of the university. Downs earned his doctoral degree in organizational communications from OU. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies from California State University, Sacramento and a master’s degree in communication studies from West Virginia University.

"This new title reflects the accomplishments of Dr. Downs, and also befits the outstanding scholarship, teaching and service of our faculty that was grown and developed under the tenure of Dr. Bonnie Rose and has continued to rise to excellence under the leadership of Dr. Downs," Maher said.

As provost and chief academic officer, Downs strives to advance the university to new levels of academic excellence, expand the diversity and scope of its programs and student populations, and increase its national and international profile. He works with Niagara's president and senior leadership team to foster an outstanding educational experience that integrates liberal arts and professional studies in distinctive ways that advance the university's Catholic and Vincentian mission.

Prior to joining NU, Downs had served as dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences at Gannon University (Erie, Pa.). He has also held the positions of dean of graduate studies and research at Emporia State University (Emporia, Kan.), and assistant vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. 

In 2007, Downs was selected as a Summer Fellow of the Higher Education Management Institute at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, a program designed to enable participants to make decisions for their home organizations that are grounded in theory and supported by data.

OU Graduate Named Oklahoma State University Provost


Oklahoma State University has named Dr. Gary Sandefur as Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. He comes from the University of Wisconsin where he has served as Dean of Letters and Science and is currently Professor of Sociology. 

His appointment follows a national search and is pending approval by the OSU/A&M Board of Regents at it next regularly scheduled meeting in June. Sandefur earned his bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Oklahoma and is a former OU assistant professor.

“We welcome Gary Sandefur back to Oklahoma as our chief academic officer,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “He brings an outstanding record of achievement to OSU and I know the university will benefit from Dr. Sandefur’s success in faculty recruiting, retention, research, diversity, fundraising and other areas. His skills as a leader and enthusiasm will guide OSU to further success and growth.”

“I am honored to be selected to lead the academic programs and work with the excellent academic team at Oklahoma State University,” said Sandefur.  “As a native of Oklahoma, I have great respect for OSU’s land-grant heritage and the outstanding work it does through its diverse academic offerings. My wife, Kathy, and I are excited about this opportunity and look forward to joining the OSU family.”

Sandefur graduated from high school in Madill, Oklahoma, and received his BA in Sociology from the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University in 1978. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

He served as Dean of the College of Letters and Science at Wisconsin from 2004-2013. As Dean, Sandefur focused on a number of pressing issues facing the College. He helped raise more than $240 million to support activities in the College. He was often called on to work on campus-wide initiatives, including chairing a steering committee for the redesign of the university’s HR system.

Sandefur, who joined the University of Wisconsin faculty in 1984, held other administrative positions, including Chair of the Sociology Department, Director of American Indian Studies, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Interim Provost in 2001. Before going to Wisconsin, he was Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma from 1978-1984.

Sandefur has published widely on issues at the intersection of population studies and public policy. His most cited work is a book with Sara McLanahan, entitled Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, from Harvard University Press in 1994. He has written many other articles and book chapters on American Indians, racial inequality, and family issues.

Information and photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University News and Communications

No new news at this time. If you have a life event to share with us, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,

No new news at this time. If you have an obituary to share with us, please email Bill Moakley, Director of Alumni Communications,