Time has provided many pivotal changes to Carl Albert State College throughout the rich and honored history of this community’s institution of higher learning. Campus sites have grown; buildings have emerged; academic programs have developed and evolved; foundational support has thrived; and even administrators have changed; however, one constant has remained for over half of a century: there has always been a Holton at the helm of the Math Division. Unfortunately, all great things must come to an end.
This summer will commemorate the end of a golden era at Carl Albert State College with the retirement of Jerry Holton. Jerry and his father, the late J. C. Holton, served at the helm of the mathematics department as division chairs for over 50 years. Jerry plans to retire in June after his 29-year tenure at CASC.
Jerry followed in his father’s footsteps. Just like J. C., the love of family, teaching, and mathematics seems to come naturally.
The late J. C. Holton graduated from Poteau High School in 1956 and married his high school sweetheart, Linda, in 1957. J. C. and Linda had two sons, Jay and Jerry. J. C. attended Oklahoma State University A&M for one year prior to transferring to Northeastern State University where he earned a B.S. in Mathematics in 1960. He accepted his first teaching position in 1960 at Nowata, where he taught junior high algebra and coached junior high football for six years. In 1966, J. C. returned to his alma mater to teach high school mathematics. In 1972, J. C. began teaching math at Carl Albert Junior College (now Carl Albert State College) and served as chair of the mathematics division. In 1987, he took on additional duties and temporarily served as the Academic Coordinator while the College searched to fill the position of Academic Affairs Vice President. He taught at the College for 22 years until his retirement in 1994. After retiring, J. C. was asked to serve as a CASC Trustee and did so until 2010 when his health prevented him from serving. At that time Linda was invited to serve and continues the family tradition.
Jerry graduated from Poteau High School in 1981. He began his higher education journey at Carl Albert Junior College in 1981 and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Mathematics in 1985. In 1986, Jerry began teaching math at Poteau High School and worked there until 1991. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at CASC from 1988-1991. Jerry began his full-time employment at CASC in 1992 as the Upward Bound Math/Science Coordinator. While working full-time, he earned a Masters of Education at Northeastern State University in 1992. In 1994, J.C. Holton retired from CASC as chairman of the mathematics division. Jerry was hired for that position and in 1995, also became the chairman of the natural science division. He and his wife Kelly and have three children-Lexy, Kale, and Kenzy.
The Holton family has touched the lives of many students because of their dedication to education. Both J. C. and Jerry were respected and revered by faculty, staff, and students. Steve Hughes, CASC science instructor, has worked closely with Jerry Holton for 28 years. According to Hughes, “Jerry said the two most important priorities of faculty members are to instruct and to advise. This was Jerry’s philosophy, which he learned from his Dad.” Hughes continued, “As division chair, whenever the college contemplated changes, Jerry’s first consideration was how the proposed changes would benefit the student. He always focused on what was best for the student and the College and this is how he went about his job.”
Although Jerry will begin the next chapter of his life in retirement away from CASC, the legacy he leaves behind will forever be enshrined in the history of this great institution, as well as our state system of higher education. “In this modern era of higher education, grounded in continuous turnover and ever-changing instructional delivery, it is truly remarkable to contemplate the solid foundation and longstanding academic success the Holton family has provided to Carl Albert, as well as our service community,” said President Jay Falkner. “Their work has helped define who we are and their service will be infinitely appreciated.”