New Social Sciences dean impressed with caring college

OCCC Social Sciences administrator John Castree has been at OCCC since July 1, 2020– during what is being called the college’s strangest year by many– and he said he’s impressed by what he’s witnessed.

“I will admit the fall semester was a challenging one, and not the ideal time to transition to a new position at a new institution,” Castree said in an email to the Pioneer.

“However, I have been so very impressed by the faculty here at OCCC.  Their dedication to student success, and the quality and creativity of their instruction under very difficult circumstances has been truly remarkable.” 

Castree, the newest dean of Social Sciences, has served in his position since last fall.  He replaced interim dean Kim Jameson and former dean Susan Tabor.

With classes mostly online and so few people on campus, many may not have met him. 

However, Castree said he has seen many at OCCC who do such strong work.

“The OCCC staff-Registrar’s Office, Advising, Student Services, Enrollment etc…have all demonstrated their dedication to serving our students during the COVID pandemic, and the integral role they play in student success,” he said.

“In short, I feel very fortunate to work with such a talented and dedicated group of coworkers.  I look forward to making positive contributions to this tremendous environment of student service and academic quality at OCCC.”

Castree relocated to Oklahoma from Texas, but has moved between several states including Illinois, where he earned his bachelor’s in history at the University of Illinois and Tennessee where he earned his master’s in history from Middle Tennessee State University.

Sporting a relaxed Northern Illinois accent and a “just call me John” collegial attitude, he’s considered a great boss to work under.

“Dean Castree has been very thoughtful and accommodating during this pandemic upheaval. He has been incredibly attentive to faculty’s needs and assisting students. He has done his best to get to know us remotely,” Dana Glencross professor of political science said.

“It is incredible that not only has he gotten to know us but he has also acclimated to OCCC surprisingly quickly. Finally, I cannot imagine coming into a new job during this time and he is to be commended for how well he has done.”

Castree has been an educator for 11 years. He taught high school World History for one year, was a graduate teaching assistant at Middle Tennessee State for two years, and has taught at the community college level for eight years.

He said his first college teaching positions were in 2013, teaching as an adjunct history instructor at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas and at Lone Star College in Tomball, Texas. 

Shortly after teaching on a part-time basis for Blinn, he was hired full time by the college where he held several positions including academic advisor and history Instructor at Blinn’s campus in Sealy, Texas.

“In July of 2018 I became the History Department Chair for Blinn College.  That position involved managing history courses and faculty on all five of Blinn’s campuses: Brenham, Bryan, College Station, Sealy, and Schulenburg, as well as teaching my own courses,” he said.

“I held that position for two years before leaving Blinn to become the dean of Social Sciences as OCCC…. It was a very hard decision to leave Texas, but I viewed the Dean position as a tremendous opportunity that was too good to pass up.”  

Faculty in his area agree they are glad he chose to work at OCCC.

“Dean Castree has been an excellent addition and fit for OCCC’s Social Sciences Division. Having worked at various institutions outside of Oklahoma, Dean Castree has introduced innovative ideas and positive leadership,” Leslie Jones, professor of history, said.