Good luck to OSU President-elect Dr. Kayse Shrum. She’ll need it after the adulation poured on her by almost every person who commented about her selection. Let me join in. She has performed at the very highest levels in every job or assignment that has been given to her or, more likely I should say, she has earned the opportunity to fill.
She is a doer, not a talker, a professional in every way, never looking for publicity or credit on a job well done. She has six kids, a husband, runs OSU’s medical school in Tulsa, been a key player in Stillwater’s expansion of laboratory health services and COVID research through collaboration not press conferences.
A native of the small Oklahoma town of Coweta, Dr. Shrum offers all the qualities found in a natural leader. A great listener, well spoken, smart as a whip and she leads by example. Also, being selected as OSU’s first female president she had to have those characteristics , and so many more, in spades to be noticed in the world of male dominated higher education – especially in Oklahoma. For example, as recently as 2006 only one of our 27 colleges and universites was led by a woman president.
In closing, President Burns Hargis and his wife, Ann, have transformed OSU mightily over the last 14 years and deserve both credit and well earned rest for their service. And OSU regents showed wisdom and judgment in selecting Dr. Shrum and her husband as their replacements.
The only question is: Why did it take more than 11 hours in closed session for the OSU regents to come to that conclusion especially considering that once they emerged from their super secret confab, the open meeting vote was quick and unanimous?
Having known and confirmed several hundred regents during my years in the state Senate, it really is hard to figure out exactly why they want to be regents. It’s not the money. Prestige, yes. Maybe free football tickets … probably. To get even for some slight from some other Oklahoma power broker? I’ve seen that, too.
But for most of them? They love their alma maters or the other institutions they oversee and do the work professionally and with compassion.
However, the regents do need a couple of other things. More gender and ethic diversity and it wouldn’t hurt to have the occasional blue-collar worker appointed as a regent, especially for the two comprehensive universities. Those two have had almost totally wealthy, white men as regents dating from statehood.
Things like this are changing nationally and it is time for Oklahoma to tag along, even if trailing the crowd … as usual.
Photo: Oklahoma State University