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The World is His Classroom

It began in Japan almost 40 years ago.

Joe McCormack (59) led a small group of OC students to Ibaraki Christian College for a summer program in 1977. It went very well.

So there were subsequent trips, including a yearlong stint with his family working with the college and the church.

Flourishing friendships combined with a mission opportunity and a rich cultural exchange to shape a vision. An international program was born … with Joe as its first director.

Decades later, OC still sends students all over the world to study abroad.

And Oklahoma Christian now brings more of the world to our campus, with international students from Japan as well as China, Korea, Rwanda and many other countries.

While building OC’s international programs, Joe taught his composition and literature classes, continued scholarly research and paper presentations.

He also chaired the Department of Language and Literature from 1972 to 1979, when he stepped down to spend a year working with the church in Japan and teaching at Ibaraki Christian College.

“I owe a real debt of gratitude to Bailey McBride (54) for sending me in the direction that I went as an English major,” Joe said. “I was not headed that direction before I got in his classes, and he changed my life forever because of what he did for me.”

As a student at Central Christian College, Joe was a talented basketball player and the freshman class president.

He was part of the foundation of the college’s move to Oklahoma City; he literally helped dig the ditches on the new campus.

Joe returned to his alma mater as a professor in 1967. He helped Oklahoma Christian develop one of the first majors to Teach English as a Foreign Language.

He also started a language school on campus and has sent countless OC students to teach English in Mito, Japan.

A consummate scholar, Joe wrote about interesting cultural nuances for academic conferences.

His honors include the Outstanding Educator of America Award, the Merrick Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Promotion of Free Enterprise, and OC’s Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching.

Any of those achievements would be significant career capstones, but Joe accomplished them all with his signature passion, grace and success.

These are among the reasons he was inducted into OC’s Master Teacher Hall of Fame. He joins Master Teachers Dr. Darrel Alexander, Dr. Jim Baxter, Ralph Burcham, Dr. Lois Exendine, Dr. Harold Fletcher, Dr. Darvin Keck, Dr. Raymond Kelcy, Dr. Hugo McCord, Dr. Robert McMillan (59), Dr. John Thompson (78), Ray Vaughn and Dr. Jim Wilson on the list.

“Joe inspired countless English majors to research, think for themselves, and to have a greater love of American literature,” said Assistant Professor of English Dr. Gail (Mize 82) Nash, who presented the award to Joe at OC’s recent Spring Dinner.

A Master Teacher never stops learning, traveling and publishing. Joe is compiling an e-book and has an idea for a TV show. And no doubt he has his passport ready.

Joe and his wife Lottie still live near campus. They remain avid Eagle basketball fans, and they’re grateful he was able to beat a cancer diagnosis last year.

They are active at Memorial Road Church of Christ, where Joe is an elder.

And they are active with their family – their children Tim, Jeff (83), Steve (84)and Connie (87) Penick – and their grandchildren, some of whom are third-generation Eagles.

“People ask me sometimes about teaching at Oklahoma Christian,” Joe said. “And this is what I tell them, ‘God looked down and said, ‘Where can I put Joe Eddie McCormack?’ And he put me here.’”

By Dawn Shelton (90)