Dr. Hale: Dorm Room Desk to President’s Desk

Dr. Hale is the first female president at USAO, as well as the first alumna to lead the university


Photo provided in a press release from USAO

Monday, June 12, saw the official announcement of Dr. Kayla Hale as USAO’s 13th President, her tenure will begin Aug. 1.

Paul Tointigh, Managing Editor

On Monday, June 12, Dr. Kayla Hale was announced to be the successor to USAO’s current president Dr. John Feaver. On the morning of the announcement, Dr. Feaver called to congratulate her and to offer his personal support.

Dr. Hale introduced herself as a person who had ties to USAO since she was a child. Her grandmother lived on 15th street right behind campus, and she walked around the campus when paying a visit to her grandmother. She began her college career in the fall of 1983, and the start of her tenure will align with the 40-year anniversary of her first beginning classes as a USAO student. Dr. Feaver was her history teacher during that first semester, and she said she looks forward to following in his footsteps.

Dr. Hale said it was a breathtaking experience to be able to return as the college president. She resided in Willard Hall during her time as a student, and her window overlooked the President’s office, offering a sort of poetic foretelling.

From sitting at a dorm room desk as a student to sitting at the President’s desk, Hale shared her visions for the institution as the 13th president.

“I want to do all that we can to increase enrollment so that students in this part of the country can have the experience that a USAO education brings,” Dr. Hale said. “I plan to be personally involved with the strategy and use of student recruitment, visiting high schools and getting to know the superintendents of those school systems.”

Her focus is not only on student enrollment, but on keeping the relationship that USAO has with other institutions as well as individuals.

“My other focus, my dual focus, will be to engage with funding partners, with alumni, with friends who see the same potential in the university that President Feaver had, and that President Troutt had before him, and in the same way that I do now,” Dr. Hale said. “We are not an institution that stands alone, we are a part of the city of Chickasha and the county, and I’d love to hold hands with everyone as we move forward.”

Dr. Hale has worked in higher education for many years, namely serving 25 years at the University of Tulsa, most recently as the Vice President of University Advancement and Alumni Engagement. She has also worked at the OU School Community Medicine in Tulsa, as well as Rogers State University in Claremore in between her years at the University of Tulsa. Dr. Hale said she saw the pursuit of the USAO presidency as the natural “next step” in her career in higher education.

“My decision to pursue this opportunity was multifaceted. I have seen what a difference leadership makes, not only in the life of the university, but the lives of the students and faculty who are a part of that community,” Dr. Hale said. “My role for the last few years has been finding the resources to fuel those ‘car tanks,’ basically through scholarships and building opportunities on campus. And this was the next natural step, if you will.”

One of the more interesting things is that Dr. Hale is not interested in an inauguration ceremony, but instead is considering hosting an open-house event so that the public may come and meet the new president. She says that she has a problem with throwing a party for someone who hasn’t done anything yet, so she has decided to host this event in lieu of an inaugural ceremony. The date for such an event has not been decided yet, but will be announced as August draws closer.

Dr. Hale is currently married to her husband, a computer science professor, and has four children, three of whom are finishing their college degrees around the country.

Dr. Hale will begin her tenure on Aug. 1, and she will walk alongside Dr. Feaver for a few months before he officially retires. As she begins her time at USAO, Dr. Hale will become the first USAO alumna to lead the university, as well as the first female to hold the title of president.


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