USAO’s 13th President Announced!

Dr. Kayla Hale will be President Feaver’s successor and become the 13th president of the university


Paul Tointigh

In the Office of the President, a chair remains free to welcome the 13th president of the univeristy, which was recently announced.

Paul Tointigh, Managing Editor

With the announcement of President John H. Feaver retiring at the end of the year, the campus has been fervently awaiting the announcement of who his successor will be. Anticipation ran high for the official selection of who this might be.

All of the anticipation came to an end the morning of June 12. From the initial list of 60 candidates, the Board of Regents have made their final decision: the 13th President of USAO will be Dr. Kayla Hale.

Dr. Hale served 25 years at the University of Tulsa, most recently as the Vice President of University Advancement and Alumni Engagement. The selection of Dr. Hale was a lengthy process that took a few months.

On Feb. 24, a search committee for the next president was created in order to find the best candidate to be USAO’s 13th president.

Members of USAO’s faculty and staff include: Dr. Zach Simpson, faculty member representative; Kelli Monroe, staff member representative; Mike Ross, director of athletics; and JP Audas, executive director of the University of Science and Arts Foundation.

Other members include of the search committee include Rick Croslin, City of Chickasha representative (incumbent Chickasha Public Schools Superintendent), Diane Carroll, secretary to the board of regents, Whitney Herzog, USAO legal representative, Dr. Tia Murry, alumni, Bea Tezen, student representative, and Mike Coponiti, vice president for Business and Finance.

Dr. Simpson, professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, served on the committee as the faculty member presentative. Dr. Simpson gave what qualities the committee looked for when reviewing these candidates, as they [the committee] sought someone who was competent, humble, and had the ability to delegate to others.

“The committee worked principally from the information gleaned from a number of focus group sessions with faculty, staff, administrators, and students,” Dr. Simpson said. “We ranked the candidates on a variety of measures, which included their appreciation of the liberal arts, their fit with the college, their ability to raise money for the college, their ability to craft and work within a budgetary process, and their leadership style.”

The committee reviewed each candidate from a number of angles, all of which are key for a president to have.

Not only will this decision affect the campus immediately after the new president takes office, but this decision will also continue to affect the campus for years and possibly even decades to come. The Regents keep this in mind as they review the last handful of candidates in their search.

“The goal of the Regents is to seek the best fit to lead the university into the next decade, to include transformational growth and steer the university through broad changes in higher education while retaining the traditional liberal arts education and Interdisciplinary Studies that makes Science and Arts unique,” Ming said.

The Regents want to have someone who will keep USAO’s identity, but will also be able to take the institution to places beyond where it is now, especially for the long-term.

Members on the search committee are conscious of their own positions as faculty members, students, staff, and how this decision could affect their positions. From the perspective of a faculty member, Dr. Simpson wants a candidate who would also retain the identity of the institution, echoing the goal of the Regents.

“I care deeply about the liberal arts mission of the college, and wanted to see a candidate that could articulate a vision of the liberal arts and also speak to how we communicate the value of the liberal arts in this moment,” Simpson said.

Simpson noted that he would also be in full support of whomever the Regents decide on for their final decision.

With the announcement of Dr. Hale, the search came to an end and the public is now aware of whom the Board of Regents decided will be the best fit to be Dr. Feaver’s successor. Dr. Hale will begin her tenure Aug. 1, 2023.


Paul Tointigh is a fourth-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.