OSSM Alums pledge to match other Alumni gifts aimed at securing best faculty at OSSM

“An investment in acquiring, retaining, and strengthening Computer Science instruction at OSSM is an investment in securing critical digital leadership for Oklahoma and the United States, now and into the future.”

Brenton Phillips, Software Engineer at Oracle, Class of ‘94

If you are an alum of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, you well know what the advanced qualifications and accomplishment of OSSM’s largely Ph.D. faculty mean for students. You may also be aware of the difficult time we have had lately recruiting the best, most highly qualified instructors on state salaries, particularly in Computer Science. Since retirement of Professors Charles Dillard in 2015 and Dr. Farideh Samadzadeh in 2018, our recruitment situation has become critical!

Please help us provide sustainably for outstanding instruction at OSSM with your gift today!

Three of your fellow alumni have pledged to match your gift for OSSM Faculty! Brenton Phillips has pledged to match gifts up to $1,500, and Teresa Dietrich has pledged to match gifts up to $25,000. Together, they will match all gifts up to $26,500 for a new Computer Science Endowment. Bryan Eastin is matching again this year all alumni gifts up to $50,000 to the OSSM Faculty Endowment!

Brenton Phillips, member of the Class of ‘94, writes:

“When I was at OSSM, I discovered my passion for artificial intelligence as a student under CS Professor Jon Campbell. He never just let me get by with the base curriculum; as soon as I mastered something, he was always pointing me to extra reading and discussion in industry journals. This kind of true academic exposure gave me the confidence to engage with my
professors at MIT later.

During a plane flight back to MIT campus from Christmas break during my freshman year, I ended up sitting next to one of my professors from the previous term. Even though the class had been 200-plus students, he turned to me and said, “Weren’t you in my class?” I confirmed that I was, and he said, “You asked some really good questions.” When he discovered I was from OSSM, he said, “You are the third CS student I have met from OSSM this year! What’s going on there in Oklahoma?”

From that encounter, I got my first lab position in the MIT AI lab. That MIT professor knew the high caliber of CS student Prof. Campbell was producing…the kind of student that comes from an impassioned and dedicated CS professor. The CS professors at OSSM made me what I am today.”

Brenton is now a highly sought after cloud software development and cyber-security engineer at Oracle and completed both his undergraduate and graduate work at MIT in just 4.5 years thanks to the foundational work he did at OSSM. Brenton is also a member of the OSSM Foundation Board.

Teresa Dietrich, member of the Class of ‘95 and OSSM Foundation Board Member, told us how her CS classes at OSSM literally set the trajectory of her career:

“Early in my time at OSSM, Professor Charles Dillard shared that he thought I had inherent talent in computer science, encouraging me to explore this interest and talent further. I can honestly say that conversation and his apprenticeship shaped both my education and career while greatly increasing my confidence in my abilities. I was lucky enough to thank and share this with Professor Dillard a couple of years ago. In today’s world, I believe that every student should have a strong foundation in technology regardless of their chosen career. My success as both a woman and a leader within the technology industry is built on the bedrock of my OSSM education.”

Teresa has led technology organizations at some of the biggest names in the business, including AOL, WebMD, McKinsey, and Namely. She holds advanced degrees in computer engineering at both Carnegie Mellon and George Mason Universities.

Private gifts to the OSSM Foundation in previous years allowed us to retain and recruit talented individuals such as Professors Charles Dillard, Jon Campbell, and Dr. Farideh Samadzadeh who played a tremendous role in shaping the professional and academic careers of many, if not all, OSSM alums.

However, since Professors Samadzadeh and Dillard retired recently, we have been unable to replace them. The truth is that OSSM’s faculty salaries cannot compare with what a talented computer science professional could earn in either a university or corporate environment. We need your help to fill the gap. Our goal is to raise $400,000 to build an endowment that will allow us to recruit the highly accomplished CS instructors needed, permanently. In fact, both Brenton and Teresa feel so strongly about this that, together, they have pledged to match all gifts up to $26,500. Brenton has pledged to match up to $1,500, and Teresa has pledged to match up to $25,000.

Professors Samadzadeh and Dillard are just two of the many beloved teachers who have impacted our students’ lives. That’s why we also have a general Faculty Endowment which allows us to provide merit-based stipends once a year to supplement the salaries of our superb faculty and staff who go above and beyond.

“A school is only as good as its teachers. Faculty Endowment awards help to cover the gap between what Oklahoma will pay and what OSSM needs to pay to continue to have the most amazing faculty around.”

Bryan Eastin, Physicist at Northrop Grumman Corporation, Class of ‘97

Bryan has generously agreed to provide a matching gift for alumni gifts only for up to $50,000 to support the Faculty Endowment.

We are exceptionally lucky this year to have these two unique matched giving opportunities. By supporting OSSM you are helping transform more student lives—please donate today. Thank you!

SARA BROWN, Chairman, OSSM Foundation

FRANK Y.H. WANG, PH.D., President, OSSM

OSSM Alums pledge to match other Alumni gifts aimed at securing best faculty at OSSM