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RUSO Selects Next ECU President

Today the Regional University System of Oklahoma regents announced Katricia G. Pierson as the next East Central University president. Pierson will be the ninth president in the university’s 108-year history and the first woman to hold the office.

Currently, Pierson is the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at ECU. She joined the university in 2011 as assistant vice president of Academic Affairs. Prior to that she held various administrative positions at William Woods University in Fulton,

Pierson will become president on March 1, succeeding John Hargrave who became ECU president in 2009.

“I am honored to be ECU’s next president,” Pierson said. “We are in challenging times, particularly as we balance budget cuts with ensuring a high-quality, affordable education. But, I have seen firsthand the resiliency and innovation of ECU’s faculty and staff. I am excited to lead this remarkable group to create an even stronger and more vibrant university.”

Connie Reilly, RUSO regent and chair of the ECU presidential search committee, said the search was a thorough process. It included a national search, with considerations to proven leaders in both academia and private business. “We wanted to ensure that we selected the best person with proven leadership and commitment to academic excellence,” Reilly explained. “We are confident that we have found that leader in Dr. Pierson.”

RUSO regent chairman and banker Lake Carpenter emphasized that innovation and industry partnerships are critical components of a university’s success, and were factors in the selection criteria.

Pierson is credited with recently creating two new graduate programs that originated from conversations with the business community and their needs. The Water Resource and Policy Management degree was the first to be started with private funding and has led to the creation of the Oka’ Institute, a sustainable water resource management center.

“This is an example of the great things we can expect from her as president,” Carpenter said.

“We are grateful for the time our search members committed to the lengthy process,” Reilly said. “Our committee ensured that we had diverse perspectives from multiple stakeholders.”

ECU presidential search committee members were: Angela Ables, Kerr, Irvine, Rhodes and Ables; Duane Anderson, ECU; Chris Anoatubby, Chickasaw Nation; Tom Cowger, ECU; Chris Feiler, Citizens of Ada Bank; Jim Hamby, Vision Bank of Oklahoma; Louden Johnson, ECU; Marc Klippenstine, ECU; Alan Marcum, Devon Energy; Monica Neal, Chickasaw Nation; Susan Paddack ; Shirley Pogue, Arrow Energy; Regina Robertson, ECU; and Dawn Thurber, ECU staff.


ABOUT: Founded in 1909, ECU is a regional institution enrolling nearly 4,300 students and offering degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. It is one of only a few universities in the country that offers a bachelor's degree in medical physics, environmental health science and cartography and has the largest nursing program in southern Oklahoma.

The Regional University System of Oklahoma governs the six regional universities: East Central University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma. For more information about the Regional University System of Oklahoma and its graduates, visit

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