Mel Penn: April 14, 1950 – February 15, 2011

Mel Penn, second from left, at Homecoming 2008 with six other Pride of Oklahoma drum majors

Coach broke the bad news on our mailing list yesterday that beloved alumnus Mel Penn had succumbed to his long battle with cancer. From Coach’s message:

Mel was my first drum major after arriving in Norman in 1971. I have considered him a true friend over the years and he will be missed by the entire Band Alumni. Let me share with you some of the sentiments sent out to the Pride this morning by Brian Britt, which reflect my feelings as well.

“Mel was an enthusiastic and inspirational leader as a Drum Major for the the Pride and for the OU Alumni Band as well. In a very real sense, Mel Penn was “Mr. Pride of Oklahoma.” He established the “Strut” that has become a defining visual symbol of our organization, but more importantly it is the man that Mel was that permeates who we have become as a band. Mel’s work ethic, enthusiasm, and love for OU and the Pride knew no bounds. His contributions to the University and the Pride were at the highest level and serve as a model to all who knew him. A positive difference maker for all who met him, Mel has left a profoundly positive and indelible mark on our organization and will be missed by all who knew him.”

The Norman Transcript has more today:

A University of Oklahoma alumnus and longtime OU ambassador, well known for mentoring business students and a lengthy succession of Pride of Oklahoma drum majors, died Tuesday night.

… Penn earned his bachelor’s and master’s of business administration degrees in 1972 and 1976 from OU and tallied a nearly 25-year career in business, mostly with Kerr-McGee Corp.

Penn, who had been battling cancer until his death, returned to OU in 1997 as the first director of the business college’s Student Support Center, which provides OU MBA students with mentoring, career planning and corporate development services.

“Not only did (Mel) work on assisting students in job placement, but he was vital to the overall MBA professional development experience,” said OU Price College of Business Dean Kenneth Evans. “He will be sorely missed by students, corporate recruiters, alumni and the faculty and staff of the college.”

Penn is credited with helping establish the Price Scholars program, which provides summer internships in New York with Wall Street firms and corporate headquarters, along with classes at New York University’s school of business, for select MBA students.

… Along with his duties in the business college, Penn was chairman of the Price College Alumni Association.

As a former drum major and graduate assistant to the OU Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band, he has been a mentor to every Pride drum major since he graduated.

“Mel Penn has been an inspiring mentor for countless of students, not only in the college of business, but all across the campus,” OU President David Boren said. “The OU family has lost one of its most generous and devoted members.”

A celebration of Mel’s life and spirit is to be held Monday, February 21, at 2:00 PM in the sanctuary of McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church in Norman, under the auspices of Primrose Funeral Service. If you wish to send your sympathy to Betsy, you can write to:

Betsy Penn
704 Mockingbird Lane
Norman, OK 73071-4830

Monday night brings the long-scheduled first Wind Symphony concert of the semester, if you want to stay in town and spend more time connected to the program. I’ll post details about that this weekend.

The online guest book entry for Mel’s services can be found here. You can even call a toll-free number and record an audio message for the guest book if you wish.

Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma Southwest District Convention in Norman

From the Delta Chapters:

The Delta chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma cordially invite you to attend Vintage Vinyl: the 2011 Southwest District Convention! This event will take place on campus at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK from April 8-10, 2011. Registration information for the 2011 SWD Convention has been mailed out to all chapters in the southwest district (although other districts are invited to attend as well). You can also find these forms on our website at

Registration costs $45/person which includes your meals, convention T-shirt, and souvenir glassware. All registration must be postmarked by March 15 (only one month away). Any registration postmarked after this deadline (including onsite) will be subject to a $15/person late fee.

For more information:

We hope to see you there!

Drew Harnish and Catherine Buckley
2011 SWD Convention Chairs
The Delta Chapters