The Distinguished Service Award is given by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Council of Presidents to recognize elected officials for their continued support of higher education.
Regent Julie K. Carson, chair of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, RSU President Dr. Larry Rice and Bill Beierschmitt, provost of RSU Bartlesville, presented the award.
“Representative Sears has proven to be a strong advocate for higher education,” Rice said. “His understanding of higher education’s role in the continued development of Oklahoma’s economy is of great benefit to his constituents and all Oklahomans.”
Sears serves as house appropriations and budget chairman of the State House of Representatives. He represents District 11, which includes Tulsa and Washington counties, and was first elected in 2006.
Sears received his Master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern State University, and went on to serve as principal of Central Middle School in Bartlesville for 24 years.
With higher education facing budget cuts during the last session, Sears helped broker a deal to ensure $10 million in supplemental funding to help minimize the budget cut, bringing it from 5.8 percent to 4.8 percent.
His efforts also include addressing pending Oklahoma’s Promise legislation that would have negatively changed the rules for 20,000 students who are enrolled in the program. As well, Sears continues to be a proponent of the Endowed Chairs Program that helps fund faculty and research positions, new programs and lectureships.