Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

Jan. 13, 2003


DALLAS (SMU) -- Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology will present its Distinguished Alumni Award posthumously to The Rev. Thomas Roughface at a special presentation during the school's annual Ministers Week program at noon, Feb. 4, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom, 3140 Dyer St.

Rev. Roughface, who died following complications suffered after an automobile accident in May, is the first person to be so honored posthumously. He also is the first Native American and the first graduate of Perkins' Course of Study School program to receive the award. The Course of Study School is a program of The United Methodist Church that provides an alternate training route into pastoral ministry and ordination outside of traditional graduate degree programs. Rev. Roughface graduated from the school in 1979.

"We are impressed and humbled by Rev. Roughface's record of service, his role in improving the availability and level of theological education for pastors in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of The United Methodist Church and the strong relationship he forged with Perkins School of Theology," said Perkins' Dean William B. Lawrence.

Rev. Roughface was instrumental in making it possible for pastors from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, of which he was superintendent at the time of his death, to begin attending the Course of Study program in the early 1970s, thereby raising the level of preparation and training available to the Conference's leaders. He continued his work by raising funds for tuition, books and travel for pastors to the school.

"Tom was a prophet who spoke the truth in love and upon whom we depended," said Bishop Bruce P. Blake of the Oklahoma Area of The United Methodist Church. "He was a faithful servant who refused to leave his people."

A member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Rev. Roughface served in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference for 42 years, becoming Conference Superintendent in 1990. He was elected as a delegate seven times to The United Methodist Church's General and Jurisdictional Conferences and had been a member of the denomination's General Board of Global Ministries and General Council on Ministries.

Perkins School of Theology was founded in 1911 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, now The United Methodist Church, as one of the original schools of Southern Methodist University. Perkins is one of five university-related United Methodist theological schools in the nation. Besides its programs at the main campus in Dallas, Perkins offers programs in Houston-Galveston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.