In 1908, the same year the Oklahoma Legislature established Cameron State Agricultural School, Lawton pioneer Arthur “Tuck” Pittman married Anna Poiry in Lawton. Throughout the ensuing one hundred-plus years, the Pittman family legacy has been intertwined with that of Cameron. Seven of the Pittman’s nine children attended Cameron, four of them becoming teachers in southwest Oklahoma. Members of the Pittman family have played an important part in CU’s legacy of providing high quality education through family donations that have funded scholarships, endowed faculty positions, and contributed to other university initiatives.
In 2003, Jessie Marie Pittman Dunbar, who graduated from Cameron Junior College in 1934 and taught elementary school in Lawton, wanted to ensure that Cameron University had the means to assist students with the cost of an education. At that time, she presented $3,000 to the Cameron University Foundation, and made a commitment to fund scholarships in the future. As a member of President’s Partners, Mrs. Dunbar was a regular donor until her death in 2007. Predeceased by both her husband Paul and her only child, Franklin, who was also a Cameron graduate, Mrs. Dunbar put Cameron University at the forefront of her estate planning, bequeathing much of her estate to CU.
In 2008, Cameron received $361,793 in minerals rights and $50,000 in bonds and securities from Mrs. Dunbar’s estate. Monies received through the bequest have been used to formally establish an endowed President’s Distinguished Scholarship in Teacher Education in Mrs. Dunbar’s name. Additionally, funding of $30,000 was earmarked for the Bentley Gardens, where an Area of Repose commemorating Mrs. Dunbar’s life has been established. Another $30,000 was allocated to the McMahon Centennial Complex as part of the “Pillar of Support” program.
Since November 2009, the university has received an additional $46,828 which is being used for scholarships.
“Mrs. Dunbar was an ardent supporter of Cameron, where she began her higher education,” says CU President Cindy Ross. “As a member of President’s Partners and by establishing the endowed scholarship, she demonstrated her commitment to future generations of Cameron students. We are truly appreciative that she remembered Cameron in her estate planning."
The Tuck and Anna Pittman Endowed Lectureship in Instructional Technology was established in 1998 by Mrs. Dunbar’s sister, Dorothy Pittman Carter, a 1945 graduate. In 2004, she and her husband, Herbert Carter, also established the Herb and Dorothy Carter Endowed Lectureship in Education. Mrs. Carter was a lifetime President’s Partner until her death in March 2009.
“Although she lived in Gillette, Wyoming for many years, Mrs. Carter had wonderful memories of her time as a Cameron student,” says Ross. “She knew that her parents understood the value of higher education and made sacrifices in order to send seven of their children to Cameron. Mrs. Carter had that same passion for education, resulting in an endowed faculty position specific to Cameron’s education program.”
Another member of the extended Pittman family, Glenda Turner, paid tribute to her mother, Bernice Pittman Moss, by establishing the Bernice Pittman Moss Endowed Scholarship in Teacher Education in 2007. Mrs. Moss, a 1931 Cameron alumna, taught school at Blue Beaver Valley, Ash Grove, Messing and Lawton’s Lincoln Elementary until her retirement in 1972. A lifelong educator, Moss, who died in 1993, shared the passion for education of her parents, Tuck and Anna Pittman.
“Mother always told us that she wanted to be a teacher from the time she was a little girl,” says Turner. “Many times she said she would like to be able to help students with their schooling. Establishing an endowed scholarship in her memory has ensured that her desire to do so will be fulfilled for generations to come.”
Turner is just one of the 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren of Tuck and Anna Pittman who have attended Cameron. More than half have become educators.
The Tuck and Anna Pittman Endowed Lectureship in Instructional Technology, the Herb and Dorothy Carter Endowed Lectureship in Education, the Jessie Pittman Dunbar President’s Distinguished Scholarship and the Bernice Pittman Moss Endowed Scholarship in Teacher Education each play a role in continuing the Pittman connection with Cameron in the university’s second century, benefiting generations of CU students.
“The Pittman family’s commitment to education is noteworthy, and their connection to Cameron is very strong,” says Ross. “We are honored that so many of the extended family have selected Cameron as their University of Choice, and we are indebted to the generosity of donors Jessie Pittman Dunbar, Dorothy Pittman Carter, Glenda Turner and the other family members who have contributed to the endowments honoring their loved ones.”