Dr. Larry Walker, Outstanding Teacher of
By Elissa K. Harvill
Dr. Walker poses with the 2006 Eugene Swearingen
Award for Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year.
Early 1970s: Dr. Walker in his office, where many,
many students have been counseled over the years.
After he received the 2006 Eugene
Swearingen Award* for Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Dr. Larry
Walker's afternoon class greeted him with a standing ovation.
"It's you and your type [of students]
that have kept me at ORU for 36 years," he told them.
"Students like me, and I treasure
that. I think it's because I'm a father figure," beamed the former chair
of the behavioral sciences department. After chairing for 31 years,
Walker is happy to be spending more time in the classroom and in his
office counseling students.
"I've reached an age where I'm
looking for a different direction," he said.
So why has he stayed so long? "The
rewards are such that I've felt content to stay in place, despite
opportunities to go elsewhere," said Walker, who has been in private
practice part-time all the while.
It was 1970 when
Walker first arrived to teach on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
His brother (the late William Walker) was already there teaching Spanish
and encouraged him that they could really make their lives count for God
in the kind of setting that ORU provides.
"ORU was a place where I could
translate my higher education and instruction into a ministry," shared
Walker. "I think of myself as a minister of education."
Over the years, Walker has seen an
increase in interest in the behavioral science majors ORU offers,
particularly psychology and social work. (Psychology is the third most
popular major at ORU, after theology and communication arts.)
"I see a higher caliber of students
[entering the social work program] who are looking to be challenged," he
observed. "Students want to be pulled to a higher level." According to
Walker, more students are interested in helping others without going
through a theology major.
Due to the influence and leadership
of Walker and his fellow behavioral science faculty, ORU boasts a
rigorous social work program that enables its graduates to earn their
master's degree (at other universities, like the University of Oklahoma)
in just one year.
Walker studied psychology and
sociology at Drury College (now Drury University) in Springfield,
Missouri. That's where he met his wife of 41 years, Becky, who was
working at the Assemblies of God Headquarters there. He then went on to
earn his master's degree at Memphis State (now the University of
Memphis) and his doctorate at Mississippi State.
It's the students who inspire Walker
to keep his teaching fresh. "Our students our different from state
school students in some significant ways; they are also aspiring to
ministry in their lives," he explained. "They treasure any personal
interaction with faculty and they reward it."
Looking ahead to the future, Walker,
who enjoys aviation (a "parked hobby"), garage sales, and rewiring
second-hand lamps, plans to try fishing and become a certified
electrician. He wants to turn his skills as an electrician into mission
work, assisting older people in need of such help.
While teaching the Marriage and
Family class through the years, Walker and his wife, a Jenks school
teacher, have successfully raised two daughters (both ORU grads) who are
working in education and behavioral sciences.
*The Eugene Swearingen award is an
honor and $1,000 cash prize given annually to the faculty member chosen
by his or her peers and students. The late Dr. Eugene Swearingen, known
as "the dollar-a-year man," was distinguished for his excellence as a
businessman and professor. He served ORU during the mid-1990s,
drawing--at his request--an annual salary of $1.