Rogers State University surprises longtime professor by renaming well-known building after her

Posted at 5:58 PM, Sep 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 11:22:49-04

CLAREMORE, Okla. -- A political science professor at Rogers State University received an unbelievable honor when the school announced that it will rename one of its most well-known buildings after her. 

Dr. Carolyn Taylor said she was invited last week to what she thought was simply a reception to welcome the OU Board of Regents onto campus. University leaders, however, stunned her when they said they would rename the Centennial Center as the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center. 

"People get their names on buildings for extraordinary things or long after they're dead," Dr. Taylor said with a laugh, "and here (my name) is going to be there in the very near future." 

The building that will soon bear her name has basically served as the main hub for students since it was built in 2009. It houses the campus bookstore, a popular coffee and juice bar as well as meeting spaces for students and the community. 

"I was just blown away," Dr. Taylor said. "I just never in my life thought that was going to happen. It was very humbling." 

The university chose to rename the building after Dr. Taylor because of her 17 years as a professor as well as her service as an education advocate and state legislator. 

At 26 years old, she was elected to represent her hometown of Norman in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. During her two terms in office, she was the primary co-author of an education reform bill that, among other things, lowered class sizes and raised teachers' salaries. She also had her hand in writing landmark healthcare legislation, like the SoonerCare health insurance program for children. 

Because of that legacy, several of Dr. Taylor's students said she's more than deserving of this honor. 

"We really want to name things after people we want to emulate, and I think there's no one better to emulate oneself after than Dr. Taylor," Autumn Fourkiller, a political science junior, said. "She's respectful. She's kind, and she's intelligent." 

"She doesn't just have an impact on the students here, but on all Oklahomans," Courtney Driskell, a political science senior, said. "I found out in her class this semester that she actually played a huge role in writing the SoonerCare legislation. So many Oklahomans are impacted by her and the decisions that she's made and the kind of character that she has even though they're not students here, and they may not know it." 

"I think everybody on campus knows Dr. Taylor and knows how sweet she is," Leah Hathcoat, a junior studying public administration, said. "Having the student center that we're all in and out of constantly named after her was very fitting in our opinion."

Now that the shock has worn off just a little, Dr. Taylor said she plans to write thank you notes to everyone once she figures out who is behind this honor. 

"I've got a lot of thank you notes to write," she said. "It's going to be a joy to do it, a real pleasure." 

RSU plans to put up the new sign onto the building saying the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center in a few weeks.