Family of First OMA President Visits the Hill

2 young boys holding an old framed picture of soldier

Ahead of the nation’s Independence Day holiday, three special guests took time to learn about the  legacy of Colonel Stephen M. Barrett, the Oklahoma Military Academy’s first president.

Xander and  Brendan Oldham, along with their mother Melissa, visited the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum located on the campus of Rogers State University. Melissa’s husband Jeff is the great grandson of Stephen Barrett. The family visited from their hometown of Austin, TX. Dewey Wilson, OMA Class of  1966, provided a tour of the museum to the family while Dr. David Bath, RSU history professor, spoke  with Xander about his interest in military history.

The OMA Museum tells the story of more than 10,000  cadets who attended from 1919 to 1971. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits items relevant  to the institution’s history.

“This was a very special day to have these very close relatives of President Stephen M. Barrett on the campus to see firsthand the OMA Museum and gain an understanding of the relationship between the OMA Alumni and Rogers State University,” OMA Director Danette Boyle said.

RSU was established in 1909 as Eastern University Preparatory School. Barrett held what would  be the last president’s position for EUPS and was the first president of its successor, the Oklahoma  Military Academy. He served as OMA President from 1920-1923 and spent his life educating others, in  teaching, administrative positions and as a writer.

Barrett’s grandchildren, Jo Barrett Oldham and Jane  Barrett Hill, established the Colonel Stephen M. Barrett Scholarship Endowment in his honor. The  family established the scholarship in hopes of helping students who want to enter the field of education.

RSU’s military history spans five decades supporting the needs of area residents and the United States Armed Forces. RSU established the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s Guard Officer Leadership Development program in 2014. The GOLD program provides an opportunity for soldiers to attend college full-time, attend military science classes, and prepare themselves for an exciting and challenging career as an Army National Guard officer.

Earlier this year, RSU celebrated the grand opening of its Student Veteran Center, which serves as a space for student veterans, active military  and military-affiliated students to study, relax and foster a sense of community. The SVC is made possible in part by the OMA Alumni Association.

In honor of the OMA’s rich tradition, RSU continues to  provide transformational education opportunities to student veterans and their families. This year, RSU celebrates 20 years as an accredited institution awarding bachelor’s degrees.