Growing up, Glenn Coffee had no doubt what he wanted to be. His love of Oklahoma, law and leadership led him to a life as a public servant. But he credits his college education at Northeastern State University for preparing him for his path.
“I met Northeastern State University President Roger Webb when I attended a state student council conference during my senior year of high school,” Coffee explained. “I was impressed with his words about the importance of education and his interest in Oklahoma students. Because of that encounter, I was offered a presidential leadership class scholarship for NSU.” Coffee said he looked at several larger schools in Oklahoma and out of state but decided on the northeastern university.
“The school visit impressed me,” Coffee said. “They were focused on students who were going to be engaged—not just academically but through an all-around experience.”
Coffee credits his positive college experience to his involvement in campus organizations, such as the President’s Leadership Class and Campus Christian Fellowship, access to notable mentors, close friends and classmates he met at college.
My professional life was built from experiences and connections I made at a regional university
“There were a number of us who had political interests,” Coffee recalled. “And we all survived Don Betz’s (now president of the University of Central Oklahoma) political science class 1113. Those relationships carried forward into my professional life.”
Coffee graduated from NSU with a bachelor's degree in political science and earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He joined the Oklahoma law firm Phillips Murrah, P.C., and continued his private practice during his time at the Oklahoma Legislature.
“I got the politics bug when I was a senior in college,” Coffee recalled, “but politics is about timing and opportunity.” Coffee decided the right time was in 1998—a week before the filing deadline. He served in the Oklahoma Senate from 1999- 2011, and as President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate from 2009-2001. He was appointed Secretary of State from 2011-2013.
“My professional life was built from experiences and connections I made at a regional university,” Coffee said. “A regional university was good a fit for a kid like me, with smaller classes taught by professors, not graduate students,” Coffee said. “I could get focused and grounded early on—that helped create future opportunities.