Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark, left, shakes hands with Osage Nation Gaming Board Chair Mark Simms after a recent visit. The college will bestow an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on Simms during its May 2 commencement ceremonies.

Phil “Joe Fish” Dupoint shakes hands with Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark after signing an agreement to teach a course at Bacone College this spring. The college will bestow an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on Fish during its May 2 commencement ceremonies. (Photo courtesy Kiowa Tribe Public Relations)

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – Bacone College announced Thursday it has selected the esteemed Mark J. Simms, Osage Nation tribal member, for an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to be presented during commencement ceremonies May 2.

Simms, who is Osage, Cherokee and Creek, is a successful businessman who has served on the Osage National Council, the Economic Development Committee, and the Finance Committee. He served as a member of the President’s Business Commission during the administration of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009.

In 2003, Simms was selected as Businessman of the Year from Oklahoma by the Business Advisory Council. He has also been active in other organizations such as the Oklahoma Pest Control Association, Bartlesville Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, American Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce.

Simms was appointed by Chief Scott Bighorse and confirmed by the Osage Nation Congress to the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise Board in 2014, and he is presently serving as chairman of the board.

“His lifetime contributions to health, education and culture, his military service, and his community leadership are some of the reasons we want to honor Mr. Simms,” said Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark. “His strength in overcoming challenges he faced in childhood, his resilience and his ability to make outstanding contributions in all his leadership roles are impressive.”

Simms said Bacone College is a place he remembers well from his childhood as a resident of the Murrow Indian Children’s Home, which remains located on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

“When I was a kid at Murrow Indian Children’s Home, Bacone would have us come up and we’d pick up trash and sticks, clean up around the place for the maintenance man to mow,” he said. “When I left, I certainly never thought I’d ever be able to come back to receive an honorary doctorate. That’s why I’m honored.”

Bacone College previously announced it will also honor Phil “Joe Fish” Dupoint with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during commencement.

Dupoint is a Kiowa Tribal member who is much valued for his commitment to the preservation and perpetuation of American Indian Cultural traditions through song, dance, stories and ceremonies. He is known as a spiritual and cultural leader with the Kiowa Gourd Clan and the Native American Church.

Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark said the decision by the Bacone Board of Trustees to honor Dupoint was because of great admiration for his strength in preserving his tribe’s cultural and spiritual heritage for future generations.

“We are proud to honor Mr. Fish for his dedicated service to improving the lives of people in our Native American communities,” Clark said. “We cannot stress enough the importance of making all tribes stronger through the sharing of cultural knowledge and beliefs.”

Bacone College Commencement will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday May 2 on the campus located at 2299 Old Bacone Road, Muskogee.