News from the Center | People

Carl Albert Dissertation Award

Alison W. Craig won the 2018 Carl Albert Dissertation Award for Best Dissertation in Legislative Studies for “Policy Collaboration in the United States Congress.” Craig’s research explored Dear Colleague letters in Congress to identify members’ patterns of collaboration on policy.

Craig received her doctorate in political science from The Ohio State University in 2017 and is currently an assistant professor in the Department Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Craig visited the Norman campus in February and met with faculty, students and community members.

The annual award is presented by the American Political Science Association’s Legislative Studies Section and is sponsored by the Carl Albert Center. Director Michael Crespin and associate director Charles Finocchiaro were on hand to congratulate Professor Craig at the APSA annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

Civic Engagement Fellows

The 2018-2019 Civic Engagement Fellows, Carson Ball, Stephen Cromwell and Madison Morrow, had a busy semester. They attended the National Campaign Conference at Harvard University Sept. 21-23. The conference focused on “Activating Campus Voter Participation” and the fellows joined students from around the country to discuss best practices and ideas to mobilize student voter turnout ahead of the midterm election.

The fellows were also responsible for an unprecedented voter registration drive on OU’s campus, registering 685 students. The fellows registered students and coordinated with multiple campus organizations to register students. For their efforts, the fellows were recognized at the State Regents for Higher Education’s December meeting Dec. 6 for winning Oklahoma’s Campus Compact Voter Registration Drive.

civic engagement fellows receive award
The Civic Engagement Fellows accepted an award from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on behalf of OU as the overall winner of the 2018 Campus Compact voter registration contest. Pictured (front left to right) are State Regents Chair Jay Helm, Madison Morrow, Lauren Schueler, and Chancellor Glen D. Johnson; (back left to right) Stephen Cromwell and Carson Ball.

In early October, the center partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports Equality (RISE) Foundation on their RISE to Vote initiative – a nonpartisan effort to register professional and college athletes to vote. On Oct. 2 center Director of Administration Katherine McRae worked with RISE staff member Dexter Mason to register and check the registrations of the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder players. Oct. 3, McRae, Director Michael Crespin and Fellow Stephen Cromwell registered Thunder staff and fans.

In a continuation of their voter registration efforts, the center partnered with OU’s Headington College to sponsor an election night watch party to celebrate the fellows’ efforts and allow a nonpartisan space for students to watch election returns.

Fellow Carson Ball was named one of five OU sophomores to receive the 2018 Rita H. Lottinville Prize. The winners were selected from 639 eligible sophomores who maintained a 3.8 GPA or better their freshman year while taking a minimum of 12 credit hours. A diverse faculty committee interviewed the eight finalists before selecting the winners. The prize includes a $1,500 scholarship. Ball is a political science and Native American studies major.

Community Scholars

During the fall semester, seven undergraduate students participated in the Community Scholars program, a public service-learning opportunity. The students worked 18 hours per week in a nonprofit or public agency in the Norman area where they developed professional experience and skills, and learned how organizations function and interact with the broader community. The students also attended weekly seminars and briefings with leaders from the nonprofit and public service sectors.

The 2018 Community Scholars and their assignments were: Hayley Lim, Pioneer Library System; Amy Mailo, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.; Saidy Orellana, Visit Norman; Arden Nerius, Cleveland County District Attorney; Emmaleigh Ridenour, Women’s Resource Center, Norman; Hicham Salim, United Way of Norman; Weston Thompson and Sophie Tiger, City of Norman, Development Coordinator’s office.

The center is grateful to the Schwartz Family Foundation for its continuing support of Community Scholars with a $10,000 grant to provide student stipends.

Undergraduate Research Fellows

The center continued to offer important research opportunities for undergraduate students. The 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Fellows are Ananya Bhaktaram, Maitlyn Brucks, Matt Carey, Grayson Kuehl, Thomas Larkin, Amy Vanderveer, and Braden Zimmerman. These students conduct research tasks for faculty mentors. In the spring semester, students write a paper and are encouraged to present their research at OU Undergraduate Research Day.

Carl Albert Center People

Kristen McMurray joined the center in August as a staff assistant. McMurray is an OU graduate and her experience includes five years at Oklahoma City Community College, where she was the Health Professions Division secretary and a clerical assistant. Before that, she worked for OU for several years.

Katherine McRae completed Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt training and received her certification in November. McRae’s group project analyzed the benefit of implementing an electronic process for OU employees to sign up for direct deposit. McRae is the center’s Director of Administration.

Lauren Schueler was accepted into the 2018-2019 class of Leadership Norman during which she will learn about community organizations in Norman. She will be working with The Virtue Center, a nonprofit assisting people with substance abuse, addiction and other mental health issues. Schueler is the Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative and Civic Engagement.

Graduate assistant Heather Walser received a $500 grant from the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress in recognition of her research conducted in a congressional collection. Walser is pursuing her doctorate in history and will serve as a graduate teaching assistant for the history department beginning spring 2019.

Graduate assistant Vivian Feng graduated in December with a master’s in library and information studies. Feng worked in the center’s archives for more than a year and helped process five collections including the David L. Boren collection and the William K. Brewster collection.


Center staff Kay Blunck and Kristen McMurray led the annual Monnet Hall bike collection to support OU’s Fill the Trolley event. After gathering donations from faculty and staff who work in various offices in Monnet Hall, a record number of 24 bikes and bike helmets were purchased and donated to benefit The Christmas Store of Cleveland County.

bicycle drive donations
Faculty and staff from various Monnet Hall departments raised funds to purchase a record 24 bicycles and helmets to donate to OU’s Fill the Trolley drive benefitting the Cleveland County Christmas Store.

In Memoriam

Laurie McReynolds
Laurie McReynolds was a valuable member of the Carl Albert Center staff.

Laurie McReynolds retired June 30, 2018, after nearly 20 years of service at the Carl Albert Center and OU. Regretfully, she died Oct. 10, 2018.

Laurie genuinely cared about helping students, faculty, staff and visitors to the center and played a key role in making the center’s programs and operations successful. She will be remembered for her professionalism, kindness, dependability, wit and style. An avid supporter of Sooner athletics, she also served on the board of The Sooner Theatre of Norman and will be missed by many in the OU and Norman community. You can read more about Laurie’s legacy at


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