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Finding love at ORU: Keeping the flame alive

As with most college campuses, ORU presents students with the possibility of finding their future spouse. For many of our faculty and professors, ORU has played a large role in their love stories. Whether they met their spouse the first week of school or long after graduation, these professors fit in that stereotype of getting the ring by spring.

Assistant Professor of Communication, Professor Susan McMurray met her husband Brian during their sophomore year at ORU. After growing closer as friends, they began dating during the summer before their junior year.

“He actually came home to Colorado, and he surprised me,” McMurray said. “And I had just gone on a camping trip with friends, so I came back home just a mess, and I walk in the house and Brian, from behind the couch, yelled ‘surprise!’”

Dating in Tulsa can require some creativity with its limited romantic venues.

“See, we both were from other states. I was from Colorado, and he was from Washington state, so we did just have to hang out a lot on campus,” McMurray said. “Other than restaurants and movies and things like that, we would probably go to the fishbowl and study or go to the library and study together, or we’d eat together in the cafeteria.”

Her own has not been the only love story she’s witnessed blossom on campus.

“I’ve seen it a lot through the years. I’ve seen people meet in my classes in group presentations,” McMurray said. “This is a great place to meet people because you are all on the same page with your beliefs and the way you want to live your lifestyle, not necessarily everybody but, yeah. And also, being such a residential campus, the students are just together, hanging out together. You are with more people your age probably more than you’ll ever be in your life.”

Instructor of Marketing, Professor Rebecca Gunn met her husband Stephen while they were both in high school, but their love story is more complicated than being high school sweethearts.

“When I was in high school, when I was a senior, he was a youth leader at my church. I had a dream that I married him,” Gunn laughed. “I was like one of those people, right. Which really freaked me out. When I was a student here, you never wanted to be that person who told someone, ‘Hey God told me to marry you’.”

Opting to keep the dream to herself, Gunn and her future spouse remained cordial friends for the rest of college, though she did confess to having a little crush on him. It wasn’t until they were both graduated that they found each other.

They started hanging out more and two weeks after Valentine’s Day Stephen made his intentions clear, well sort of.

“On his birthday, we were at Nordaggios and he said, ‘I want to pursue your heart’ and all these things, and I’m like okay, maybe we’re boyfriend and girlfriend now? At this point, I still don’t know. I mean, we started holding hands, so maybe.”

It wasn’t until later that night at a church event that a friend came over and expressed her congratulations that Gunn and Stephen were dating. Gunn now knew for sure.

“And even after we did get engaged, it was still probably several weeks maybe even a month or two before I finally told him, ‘Hey, by the way, like I did have a dream that I married you,’” Gunn said.

Dr. David Burkus, Associate Professor of Management, met his wife Janna their first year of college.

“Probably the most interesting thing is as much as people decry wingcest even in 2017, it worked out pretty well for me. My wife was on my sister wing,” Burkus said.

Burkus confessed to having broken up Janna’s relationship with her high school boyfriend, after he and some friends from their sister wing decided they weren’t right for each other. Burkus and Janna soon became close friends, and their wing banquet was coming up.

“It was obvious that she was having to deal with the fact that she didn’t have a relationship or a date to bring to the banquet, her ex-boyfriend did,” Burkus explained. “So I don’t know if it was valiance or whatever, but I sort of swooped in and was like, ‘Hey we should go.’ So we did that. We committed to going together just as friends.”

A few weeks later, Janna broke her leg playing intramural soccer and their friendship dove a little deeper.

“I can still remember her scream. It was crazy. I went over to Family Medical, when it was here, with her for the x-rays and stuff,” Burkus said. “Then I sort of fell into the role of kind of her chauffeur. She broke her right leg, so she couldn’t drive her own car, and I didn’t have a car, so I guess I was the perfect chauffeur.”

They started spending more and more time together as Burkus would drive Janna home for family dinners or to do laundry on Sunday afternoons. By wing banquet time, they both realized that something more was happening.

“It was kind of like we were there and we realized, this is more than just two friends going because they don’t have real dates. So that was the beginning of that.”

With summer break only two weeks away, they waited to officially start dating at the start of their sophomore year. They dated throughout the rest of college.

“We got married the day after graduation, which is a terrible idea,” Burkus said. “But all my family was in for graduation, so we just thought, let’s just do it all at once. It sounded great when we were planning it. It was awful. I don’t recommend it to anyone.”

The newly married Burkus’ were so tired after their graduation and wedding, they spent their honeymoon sleeping through a cruise. And years later, they are still going strong.

Burkus encourages students not to worry too much about meeting someone

“The only way a long-term relationship is going to work is if what you’re called to do and what they’re called to do is aligned. So focus on doing what you’re called to do, and when you look to the side, and if there’s a person doing it really closely with you, that’s a pretty strong signal. I certainly wasn’t planning on meeting anyone my freshman year or anyone at all. I think we’ve got this weird idea that you’re supposed to meet your soulmate here, but yeah, I think it’s more important you figure out who you are and what you’re doing here first. And then the people who are doing it alongside you are pretty good candidates.”