Throughout her more than 40 years at East Central University, Shirley Mixon has worked quietly, but tirelessly, to make a difference in the lives of others. Never seeking attention for her efforts, never courting the spotlight, Mixon’s steadfast devotion to her students, her colleagues and to the field of higher education was recognized Friday in a special ceremony ahead of the university’s annual Evening of Honors and Recognition event.

Having taught and advised more than 8,000 students and, no doubt, inspiring countless others throughout her career, Mixon was chosen to be the inaugural recipient of the newly created Black Alumni Association’s Trailblazer Award. So inspiring has been Mixon’s tenure and impact on others, said Black Alumni Association officials, that in addition to being the first recipient of the Trailblazer Award, she is also the namesake of the association’s first endowed scholarship — The Shirley Mixon Trailblazer Scholarship.

“This woman really is ageless — she still looks the same,” BAA Board Member Cedric Bailey said Wednesday by phone. “As a student, I attended ECU in the summer of 1980, and I saw her during that time period. She was a very stern woman, but I had a lot of respect for her. At that time, we probably only had one or two African American instructors. I came back to ECU for a Homecoming event many years later, and there she was. She was still there 30-some years later!”

Bailey said he viewed Mixon’s commitment to ECU as further proof the association picked the right person for the award.

“Back then (in the ‘80s) a lot of people would come to ECU and get their start, then go on to a bigger university somewhere else, and you know, she could’ve gone back to her alma matter, Oklahoma State University, but she didn’t. She stayed at ECU.”

Mixon was hired in 1978 after completing her bachelor’s degree at Grambling State University in Louisiana and her master’s degree at Oklahoma State University. She continued her education after becoming a professor and earned her Ed.D. in 1984. She has been active in many university clubs and organizations, including AKA Sorority, the ECU Human Diversity Committee and assisting with the Louise Young Diversity Lecture. She is the president-elect of Oklahoma Women in Higher Education and currently serves as the director of the Interdisciplinary Studies Degree program, which is designed to help adult learners complete their degrees online.

Bailey described Mixon in the same way he described the BAA’s mission.

“We’re just trying to make a difference, and we’re here for everybody,” Bailey said. 

For more information on the ECU Black Alumni Association, visit


Carl Lewis is the editor of The Ada News. He's an aspiring photographer, an unabashed fan of Apple products and an avid coffee swiller. Contact Carl at (580) 310-7520, or by email at