ORU to graduate its 25,000th student
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, May 05, 2012
5/05/12 at 7:37 AM
Related story: Producer to speak at ORU graduation.
Oral Roberts University will graduate its 25,000th student Saturday.
And that student is the granddaughter of the man who has organized every graduation since ORU opened nearly a half century ago.
Laura Egstad will graduate summa cum laude Saturday. She was named the most outstanding teacher candidate this year in the College of Education.
Her mother is one of two daughters of longtime ORU employee Bill Jernigan. Both daughters are ORU graduates.
Jernigan was 30 years old when he came to ORU in June 1965 to set up the college library.
He has continued over the years as dean of learning resources but also has found himself in a variety of administrative positions, including vice president of academic affairs.
And he quickly learned that ministry came with the job.
"I probably laid hands on and prayed for 10,000 people," he said, as he traveled on healing crusades, first with ORU President Oral Roberts and then with ORU President Richard Roberts.
"It's been a unique experience, combining ministry and scholarship," he said.
"I've traveled all over the world. ... It's been a great journey."
One of Jernigan's first responsibilities at ORU was to organize the dedication of the university and the inauguration of Oral Roberts as its first president.
Billy Graham spoke at that event in June 1967.
"I must have done a good job because I've had everything since," Jernigan said. He was asked to organize every graduation and also the inaugurations of ORU presidents Richard Roberts and Mark Rutland.
When he was notified by the registrar that the university would graduate its 25,000th student this spring, knowing his granddaughter would be in that class, he asked Rutland if he would mind making her the 25,000th.
"Mind? I will edict it," Rutland told Jernigan.
At the 1 p.m. commencement ceremony Saturday, as Egstad receives her diploma, special mention will be made that she is the 25,000th graduate.
After graduation, Egstad hopes to teach at a public grade school in Tulsa, though she herself is a product of Evangelistic Temple School and Victory Christian School.
"I love everything about teaching," said Egstad, who spent last summer with an ORU team teaching English to grade-school students in China, a trip she called "the most incredible and most trying experience of my life."
ORU will graduate 650 on Saturday. The commencement speaker will be Ralph Winter, who helped produce "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," "I, Robot" and other Hollywood films.
Original Print Headline: ORU to graduate 25,000th
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
Laura Egstad, who will be the 25,000th ORU graduate, stands with her grandfather and fellow ORU graduate, Bill Jernigan, who has organized every graduation in the university's history. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
When longtime ORU employee Bill Jernigan heard the university would graduate its 25,000th student this week, he requested that his granddaughter Laura Egstad be that student. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World