Dr. Regina Bennett, associate professor of English, died Dec. 3.
A celebration of her life was scheduled Jan. 14 but has been postponed due to weather. The memorial will take place from 1-3 p.m. Jan. 15 in Room 151 in Walker Center for Arts and Sciences. The community is invited to attend.
Bennett is a 1988 graduate of the university who served as an adjunct professor, beginning in 1993, before becoming a full-time faculty member in 2000.
Dr. Amy Cataldi, interim dean of Petree College of Arts and Sciences, wrote an email to students and faculty thanking them for their condolences following Bennett’s death.
“She was called on for many roles at the university and did each with humility and professional acuity,” she wrote. “If you interacted with Regina at all, you knew her as genuine, kind and dedicated. Regina was a dear lady and shall be missed by many.”
Bennett got her undergraduate degree in English with a concentration in women’s studies. She was a non-traditional student, supporting herself, so it took her eight years to complete her degree.
“After graduation, I worked in non-profits with battered women, sexual assault survivors and women prisoners,” Bennett wrote in her biography for okcu.edu.
OCU English faculty and adjunct professors worked together to cover Bennett’s teaching course load while she was on medical leave last semester. To follow Bennett’s wishes, the details of her medical condition will be kept private, officials said.
After her death, officials from Petree College made memorial donations to both the YMCA and the Women’s Services and Family Resource Center of Chickasha in Bennett’s name. They raised $650 for the donations.
Bennett enjoyed working for non-profits for several years. Though she found the work to be fulfilling, she missed intellectual interactions, so she enrolled at OCU in the master’s of liberal arts program. She still was working full-time.
“The MLA fed my insatiable curiosity and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a Ph. D., which I did during the 1990s,” Bennett wrote in her biography.
She took graduate classes while she taught as an adjunct at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community College and Rose State College.
“One of the things I tell potential students is that when I walked across campus at OU to classes, I never saw the same person twice,” Bennett continued in her biography. “That doesn’t happen at OCU, and that’s what I like about teaching here… You are a name, not a number at this university.”
Tory Doherty, administrative assistant of social sciences/humanities, put out a basket of paper hearts in the humanities suite for people who wanted to write about Bennett. Hearts were taped to Bennett’s office door to commemorate what she meant to the university and community.
The hearts read things such as “I will miss your laugh, Regina,” “I will miss your humility and graciousness,” “I will miss your laughter,” and “Colleague, mentor, friend… thank you for all that you gave to us.”
The basket of paper hearts still is available for anyone who would like to participate.
Callie Dewees, acting sophomore, said Bennett was a woman who knew when to get things done, but also was understanding when it came to her students.
“She was a very kind woman who didn’t play around with class work,” she said. “Her class fostered healthy and controlled debate, which took place almost every class period.”
Sunsinee Parker, liberal arts graduate student, has fond memories of Bennett. She said Bennett nominated her for the position of editor-in-chief of Stellar, the university’s undergraduate research journal.
“Working with Dr. Regina Bennett has been one of the highlights during my time at OCU,” Parker said. “Dr. Bennett always saw the positive and possibilities in her students and encouraged to explore the road less traveled to see where it could lead.
“She loved people, she loved Oklahoma and she loved OCU. I know people will miss her warm nature, her sincere concern for her students, colleagues and friends, and that ever-present glowing smile.”