American Indian Alumni Honoring Neal McCaleb
The Oklahoma State University Alumni Association and the OSU American Indian Alumni Association (AIAA) are honoring Neal McCaleb with the Distinguished Alumni Award on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center.
McCaleb received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from OSU (then Oklahoma A&M College) in 1957. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and originally from Oklahoma City, Okla., where he graduated from Putnam City High School in 1953. McCaleb has spent more than 50 years in the civil engineering field and public service.
“I’m very honored and privileged to be recognized,” said McCaleb, who graduated in the last class of Aggies. “I’ve had a very full and rewarding life and OSU played a big part in that.”
During McCaleb’s career, he was an integral part of the design and development of the interstate highway system in Oklahoma. He was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1974 and served as the Republican Floor Leader for four years.
While Director of the Department of Transportation, Governor Henry Bellmon appointed McCaleb as the first Secretary of Transportation in 1987. He also served as Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and ODOT during the Keating administration. In 2001, President Bush appointed McCaleb Assistant Secretary of the Interior where he was in charge of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“His whole life has been about serving native people,” said Robin Williams, coordinator of Native American Affairs at OSU. “He has always been supportive of OSU.”
McCaleb continues to dedicate his time and energy to the advancement of Native Americans as an advocate of Indian economic development. He is chairman of the board of “Chickasaw Nation Industries” and frequently participates in Native American events on campus. In addition, he serves as a mentor to many of OSU’s Native American students.
“Each of us has an opportunity to make a contribution and it need not to be as narrow as our ethnic heritage,” said McCaleb.
“Mr. McCaleb has many years experience in this culture,” said Kay Porter, AIAA National Board representative. “As an OSU graduate he is doing so much to create awareness of how important it is for Native Americans attend college and follow their dreams.”
With a total of 355 American Indians receiving diplomas, OSU is the top producer nationwide for American Indians with bachelor’s degrees in all disciplines combined. OSU is also ranked first in the number of American Indians who earn degrees in 11 educational categories, including engineering, biological and biomedical sciences, business, architecture, and agriculture.
“I hope students see their Native American identity in terms of the greater context of society,” said McCaleb about the future for Native American students at OSU. “I hope they see what they have to offer for the greater good of all the people of this country.”
McCaleb has been inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Community Development Finance Institutions Fund for the U.S. Treasury Department and, as appointed by Governor Henry, on the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Board of Regents.
For more information about the OSU American Indian Alumni Association, visit orangeconnection.org/AIAA or contact Melinda Tharp at 405.744.2794.