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2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

The Oklahoma State University Alumni Association honored six deserving alumni with 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards at a ceremony on Sept. 15 in the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center. The award recognizes Cowboy family members who have distinguished themselves through their field or profession and the betterment of their community.

The Honorable Doug Cox, M.D.

doug cox
Dr. Doug Cox

Dr. Doug Cox graduated from OSU in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. He then graduated from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine in 1978.

Cox served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004-16. He was passionate about advancing legislation to elevate OSU and medical education at the OSU Medical Center.

Throughout his time as an Oklahoma lawmaker, he worked closely with then OSU Center for Health Sciences President Kayse Shrum and legislative leadership to pass legislation ensuring funding for the OSU Medical Center by establishing the OSU Hospital Authority. Cox also wrote and passed the legislation that extended SoonerCare health insurance from ages 18 to 23 for young people attending universities and colleges.

Cox has served as the medical director of the Grove Emergency Services Authority for the past EMS and volunteer fire departments in northeast Oklahoma.

Cox served on the OSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, helping raise the funds necessary for the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center construction. He was also involved in organizing countywide OSU honor banquets for outstanding students and is a passionate spokesman for encouraging students to attend OSU.

His passion for OSU Athletics led him to help organize and co-host the frequent Grand Lake coaches retreats over the years.

Cox currently practices medicine near Grand Lake, Oklahoma, and is serving as medical director for the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma.

He is a life plus member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Terry Stuart Forst

Terry Stuart Forst
Terry Stuart Forst

Terry Stuart Forst graduated from OSU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science. She then attended the ranch management program at Texas Christian University in 1992.

During her time on campus, she joined a sorority — choosing the one that had a parking lot big enough for her truck and horse trailer. Her time at OSU provided links to many friends and colleagues that helped to develop her character and commitment.

After graduation, Forst returned to Stuart Ranch to work for her father, running the horse program and helping with the cattle operation.

After her father died in 2001, Forst shouldered the responsibility of running all aspects of Stuart Ranch, including the beef cattle production, breeding and training of performance quarter horses, range and wildlife management, and a meat company.

Forst evolved the horse program to be one of the American Quarter Horse Association’s leading breeders. To honor her father and the ranch’s equine heritage, the R.T. “Bob” Stuart Jr. Operating Endowment was established at OSU’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences to support the operating expenses of the equine program.

She was named a Graduate of Distinction by the OSU Department of Animal Science in 2012 and was presented the Master Breeder Award by the department in 2008. Forst was also presented with the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011.

In addition to honors from her alma mater, Forst was the first female president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and its first female recipient of the Cattleman of the Year Award in 2007. She was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2007, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2020. Forst was also recognized as the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry 2017 Significant Woman in Agriculture.

Alongside her two sons, Clay and Robert, Forst continues to innovate and grow Stuart Ranch. 

Forst is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Lieu R. Smith

Lieu R. Smith
Lieu R. Smith

Lieu R. Smith graduated from OSU in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering. After serving two years on active duty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he returned to OSU and earned a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1957.

Starting in the early 1960s with the design of the large rocket test facilities at Stennis Space Center for the Saturn V program, Smith spent most of his engineering career with Sverdrup Corporation in St. Louis where he rose to the rank of corporate vice president of advanced technology. 

Sverdrup afforded Smith the opportunity to work on many challenging projects, including a liquid and solid rocket engine test for the space shuttle. His work on the space shuttle won several awards and was featured in Time magazine in 1984 where the project was described as the “most sophisticated military complex ever built.”

For his work as the program manager on the Space Shuttle Launch Pad Complex, Smith was awarded the Congressional Science and Technology Award for pioneering work in aerospace technology and engineering. He was also selected by Science Digest as one of America’s outstanding innovators in 1985.

Smith retired in 1993 to devote his time to work for his church where he is an ordained minister. After his retirement from the church in 2003, he continued to serve as a hospital chaplain and on several committees and boards at the Mercy Hospital in Berryville, Arkansas.

He was recognized by the Arkansas Community Foundation of Carroll County with the 2019 Volunteer of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in developing the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank to serve those in his community.

In 2022, Smith was inducted into the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology Hall of Fame and awarded the Lohmann Medal. He was also presented with the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award by the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

Today, Smith resides in Shell Knob, Missouri, where he dedicates his time to Loaves and Fishes Food Bank.

Smith is a life plus member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Ken Starks

Ken Starks
Kendal W. Starks

Kendal W. Starks graduated from OSU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and 1978 with a master’s degree in agricultural economics.

While on campus, Starks was a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant for the Department of Agricultural Economics.

After graduation, Starks went to work for Stillwater National Bank and Trust Company, serving in numerous leadership positions, including senior vice president. He was named president of BancFirst Stillwater in 1988 and retired as executive vice president and director of community banking with BancFirst in January 2023.

Starks is passionate about OSU and staying involved with his alma mater. He has served on the Ferguson College of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Committee as well as the OSU Foundation’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees. In 2010, Starks received the Ferguson College of Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award.

In addition to honors and involvement with his alma mater, Starks has continued to be an active member of his community. He has served on the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, Stillwater Medical Foundation Board of Directors, the Stillwater Education Foundation Board of Directors and the OSU Athletics Council. He was recognized as the Agribusiness Person of the Year in 1989, received the Honorary State Farmer Award in 1996 from the Oklahoma FFA, and the Blue and Gold Award from Stillwater FFA in 1989.

Starks and his wife, Kathy, reside in Stillwater. They have three children, Kendra, W. Loren and Jared — all of whom are all OSU graduates.

Starks is a life plus member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Guate Vik

Guate Vik
Dr. Gaute Vik

Dr. Gaute Vik graduated from OSU in 1984 with a doctorate in statistics. He also graduated as candidatus realium in applied mathematics from the University of Bergen in Norway in 1978.

Serving as a scientist at Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, Vik received a fellowship from the Norwegian government to study at OSU in 1982. During his time on campus, he was inducted to the national dean’s list. His favorite memory of campus was the fantastic relationship between his professors and graduate students.

After graduation, Vik moved to Saudi Arabia to work as a team leader for Teleplan, a Norwegian telecom consultant company. He started to develop Teleplan from a few consultants to 600 employees throughout several countries after 37 years. Now known as Norconsult Telematics, Vik serves as executive chairman and co-owner.

In 2017, he was inducted into the OSU College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. Four years later, his Cowboy-owned and -led company was named in the inaugural class of Cowboy100 businesses.

Vik currently resides in Oslo, Norway, with his wife, Lisbeth, where he enjoys hunting, fishing and boating.

He is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Darton Zink

Darton Zink
Darton Zink

Darton Zink graduated from OSU in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Following graduation, Zink started his career at Zeeco, a manufacturer of custom-engineered industrial pollution control equipment located in the Tulsa area. After holding various roles, Zink became president and CEO in 2000. Under his leadership, Zeeco has become the market leader in its business with over 2,000 employees in more than 25 locations worldwide.

OSU has honored Zink and Zeeco with its Cowboy100 and Blazing10 awards, recognizing the fastest-growing and highest revenue-generating businesses owned or led by OSU graduates. In 2022, Zink was named to the OSU Foundation Board of Directors and inducted into the OSU School of Accounting Hall of Fame.

The Zink Center for Competitive Innovation is part of the renovation to OSU’s Engineering South building. The mission of the Zink Center is to encourage excellence in future leaders through action, innovation, grit, hard work and the competitive spirit to win, which are all attributes that resonate within the Zink family.

Zink and his wife, Jamie, serve as trustees of the John Steele Zink Foundation and the John Zink Foundation. He oversees operations at the Zink Ranch, which is used by approximately 30,000 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, parents and volunteers annually. Zink also serves on the boards of the Indian Nations Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma as well as chairman of the Tulsa River Parks Foundation.

The Zinks have been married for 22 years and reside in Tulsa. They have two sons, Reed and Keller.

Zink is a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.


Photos by: Genesee Photo Systems and provided to OSU Alumni

Story by: Jillian Remington | STATE Magazine

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