NORMAN — Applause echoed off the walls as past Otis Sullivant Awardees stood to their feet to acknowledge a man who has dedicated himself to the University of Oklahoma and his students for almost 50 years. Alan Velie, David Ross Boyd Professor of English, was presented the $20,000 Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity at the University of Oklahoma at a luncheon Friday.
“He’s a special person to the entire OU family. He loves scholarship. He loves learning and on top of that he truly loves his students,” said OU President David L. Boren.
Velie was chosen by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the selection committee, which is composed of faculty and staff members, students and alumni. The late Edith Kinney Gaylord of Oklahoma City established the $500,000 Sullivant Prize endowment shortly before her death in January 2001.
“Edith Gaylord made her own way. She did not rest on her family name or laurels and ownership of the Oklahoman and then the Daily Oklahoman and Times ... She went off to blaze a trail of her own,” Boren said.
Gaylord was a longtime supporter of many OU programs and a pioneering journalist. She was the first woman reporter to join the New York bureau of the Associated Press, and was the second president and one of the founders of the Women’s National Press Club in Washington, D.C. She also became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt when Roosevelt began to host press conferences at which she would only allow women journalists to attend; changing the face of journalism.
Boren explained that the award honors the late, longtime Oklahoma journalist Otis Sullivant, who was good friends with Gaylord and covered Oklahoma and national political news for several decades and was known for his ability to analyze and accurately predict political trends.
Bob Ross, president and CEO of Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, said it had been a pleasure getting to know Velie and his family.