SAYRE, Okla. (KFOR) – Bill Swartwood is college Dean now, but he can still remember the instant he decided to become a math teacher, in a freshman, high school math class.

His teacher, he recalls, “said just the right thing at just the right moment. Everything just clicked. The light bulb went on.”

After graduating from Cheyenne High School, Bill didn’t want to stray too far for more schooling.

“I had a girlfriend that lived at Cheyenne,” he admits.

So he pursued his further studies at Sayre Junior College (now SWOSU-Sayre).

SWOSU-Sayre. Image KFOR.

“My parents both went to school here,” he continues.

The campus is now a satellite for the main one in Weatherford to the east, but in those days, the halls were full of western Oklahoma kids like him staying in Sayre before heading off to school someplace further away.

“I remember my advisor at Weatherford (Southwestern OSU’s main campus). The first time he signed my enrollment form, he looked up at me when he saw all the math classes on it. He said, ‘you’ll never make it’.”

He made pocket money as a janitor and, then, was promoted to the maintenance department his second year.

Bill says, “I’ve always worked my way through.”

His lofty position as Dean still doesn’t disqualify him from doing the same kinds of things now, as well as teaching several sections of Algebra.

“We’re doing exponential and logarithmic functions,” he informs us.

Swartwood taught in Oklahoma public schools for 17 years, long before this campus changed from in person to mostly remote learning.

Several of the classrooms here are equipped with new smart cameras.

“These were just installed yesterday,” he points out.

The light bulb that went on for him so many years ago still burns bright as ever as we walk around, through classrooms, hallways, and even the student lounge.

It’s a satisfying thought, he relates, that same light helps keep the lights on here too.

“The mission is still the same.”

The SWOSU campus at Sayre is celebrating its 85th year in 2023. Dean Swartwood is just the 8th person to lead that institution.


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