OCCC Regents say president search won’t be done quickly

OCCC won’t be rushing to install a new president; the new president
may come from outside of Oklahoma, and all stakeholders will have a say in
the process, the OCCC Board of Regents said Nov. 13 during its regular meeting

All but two of the regents present Devery Youngblood, chair, and James
White– said they were in favor of a national search.

“I do think that we would be remiss if we don’t go nationwide and see what’s out there. When you open a search at the national level you have
the diversity that may not be in existence in Oklahoma,” Regent Raúl Font

“That doesn’t mean that we won’t hire someone from Oklahoma, but we can not limit ourselves to what we have here.”’

Provost Jeremy Thomas who said last month that he’s not decided to put
his hat in the ring to apply for the president’s position, sat straight-faced most of the time and looked down as Font spoke about the necessity of searching for candidates outside OCCC.

All regents said they were also in favor of taking a very deliberate set of
steps which include taking more time to seek input from all people involved
with OCCC including students, faculty, staff, community members and legislators.

Regent White said that signals a lengthy process.

“I really believe that this particular process and these particular judgements demand that we not only take the time, but that we take a long look at individuals who might come as leaders of this institution,” he said.

Youngblood said he also believed the search to replace outgoing President Jerry Steward should be slow and deliberate and be driven by input from the college community

“I believe we must first take the time to design the processes to make sure we are getting input long before we start deciding who we should hire,”
he said.

“We are a broad and diverse group and we should listen to every single
person who has something to share.”

Youngblood said he also wanted to give Thomas and Chief of Staff Danita
Rose adequate time to continue what they’re doing – “to listen respond grow adapt and build our unique culture.”

He said if the board does its job well, they can bring in a president who
can focus on a strategic long-term direction of the college, rather than someone who has to to focus on day to-day issues.

“I’m more concerned about moving forward the right way than I am
moving forward quickly.”

Regent Christie Burgin agreed with the slower pace and the necessity
of input from the community.

She said each board member needs to take part in listening to OCCC
stakeholders and take the time to consider the information thoughtfully.

“Each of us needs to take the time, however we receive the information,
to look at it and process it. That’s the only way we can understand what our
culture is going to be and needs to be,” she said.

Regent David Echols said first, though, the Regents must clearly define what they believe the culture of OCCC is and understand it before they interview the candidates.

Regent and Vice-Chair Kevin Perry also asked before candidates were
selected for an interview that a timeline be determined for the process.

“I know we are going to listen. I know we are going to take the time to listen. I just want to know what the timeline is.”