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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Gaither honored by new biology wing

Friday, December 7, 2007  
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By Ryan Holly

A beloved biology professor, Dr. Kim Gaither died of breast cancer in 2005. The life and love Gaither shared with Oklahoma Christian University is now going to be remembered through the Dr. Kim Gaither Center for Biology.

“When you have the opportunity to perpetuate the memory of someone who is so, so special you should take that opportunity. What we don’t want to happen is for future students not to understand the kind of person that Dr. Gaither was,” Vice President for Advancement John deSteiguer said. “By naming this the Dr. Kim Gaither Center for Biology, we really want to make sure that her story continues to be told to inspire future generations of students.”

The Dr. Kim Gaither Center for Biology will be a component of the science facility initiative. This initiative consists of three phases and is estimated to cost $5.8 million.

The Dr. Kim Gaither Center for Biology will be a component of Phase Three, a 13,000 square foot wing just to the north of Harold Science Hall.

People are uniting to raise funds for this initiative.

“Lots of folks on campus and off campus have been involved in the fund raising effort. David Gaither, Kim’s husband, has been really supportive and involved. He has been the critical individual in making much of the fund raising take place,” deSteiguer said. “The science initiative is a 5.8 million project. We have raised $3.6 million so far. The Kim Gaither fund is part of that but not the entire thing. There has been close to $360,000 raised so far in memory of Dr. Gaither.”

The money that is being raised will serve as a foundation for academic advancement.

“I would want future students to know how courageous she was. I would want them to know about her endurance and her attitude toward life and the dedication she had to her students. She would be there for her students no matter what even if she would be in a wheelchair or whether she was horribly ill. She would be there because she knew what was important. Her positive attitude was so steady,” Gaither’s daughter and Oklahoma Christian freshman Brianna Gaither said. “The courage that she would show at the university is the same that she would show at home. The attitude and courage she had was based in the foundation she had in Jesus Christ and the faith she had in that foundation.”

Gaither graduated with a B.S. degree in Biology/Chemistry from Oklahoma Christian in 1981. Gaither went on to earn M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

She returned to Oklahoma Christian in 1988 to serve as professor of biology and earned the Gaylord Chair for Distinguished Teaching in 2004.  Gaither impacted others both on and off campus.

“Dr. Gaither was such a beloved person, professor, friend and colleague here, and it was very obvious that she impacted many, many lives, on campus and off campus as well,” deSteiguer said. “She was a model student here years ago, not only excelling in the classroom academically but also by being very involved musically on campus. She had a beautiful voice, and she always made her mark here. The last 17 years as a faculty member she has made a great impact on the students.”

The Dr. Kim Gaither Center for Biology keeps Gaither’s memory alive within the campus community.

“It’s surreal. I cannot comprehend the true meaning and worth of this honor. I think it is an incredible tribute to the person she was, to the amount of commitment she had to the sciences and to how much of her life she poured out to everyone around her. It is really encouraging to see this life being poured back to her,” Brianna Gaither said.

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