The Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award


The Honorable Wes Watkins
U.S. Congressman, Oklahoma

Wes Watkins

In 1988, Wes Watkins was elected to his seventh term in the U. S. House of Representatives. Throughout his political career, he has committed himself to improving the economic and job opportunities in the Third Congressional District. His outstanding efforts to nurture small business and rural economies have won him national recognition as a Guardian of Small Business from the National Federation of Independent Business.

In the 1950's, Wes Watkins worked his way through OSU, was elected student body president, and was named one of the university's Top Ten Students. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in agricultural education, then entered private business as a homebuilder for eight years.

He won election to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1975 and served one term before winning election to Congress in 1976. In Congress, Wes Watkins' vision and leadership resulted in construction of the first alternative agricultural research center, the first industrial technology innovation and finance center, and the first industrial incubators in Oklahoma. He also developed the New Products and Processes Fair in southeastern Oklahoma and authorized legislation creating Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation and Wilderness Area.

Congressman Watkins obtained federal funding to initiate the OSU Center for International Trade Development. Additionally, he has served on the Alumni Board of Directors and as president of the Higher Education Alumni Council of Oklahoma. His outstanding service to higher education brought him recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus of OSU, as well as membership in the OSU Alumni Hall of Fame.

Through achievements in agricultural and economic development and humanitarian activities, Wes Watkins has brought prestige, honor, and national recognition to himself, to his family, and to Oklahoma State University.

Year of Award: 1989