Everett Dobson grew up in the small town of Cheyenne, Oklahoma, about an hour west of Weatherford. There, most of his teachers in school were Southwestern Oklahoma State University graduates. The university was the logical choice when it came time to pick a college. Attending SWOSU gave him the opportunity to play on the SWOSU golf team and also stay close to home, so he could work at the family businesses during summers and breaks.
An economics major, Dobson fondly remembers the classes and professors who helped shape him, “I received a wonderful education. In addition to economics courses, my business, finance and accounting classes all gave me a platform to grow.”
In 1989, with the help of family-owned Dobson Telephone Company, Everett Dobson founded Dobson Communications Corporation, where he was CEO before becoming executive chairman. Over several decades, DCC grew to be one of the nation’s largest independent rural wireless providers, operating in 17 states with 3,000 employees when it sold to AT&T in 2007.
Dobson’s current company, Dobson Fiber, operates a 4,500-mile fiber optic network for high speed internet and data in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas for residential, business and wholesale providers.
As a business leader, Dobson has always encouraged community involvement as part of his companies’ corporate focus. “I would encourage any young graduate to reach out to their favorite cause and try to engage with the community.” This value extends to hiring decisions. Dobson places a high value on employees with a strong sense of ethics and investment in community.
That community-focus was something he took part in and appreciated about his university in the late 1970s, and is still true of SWOSU today.
“The instruction was hands-on, and the class sizes were small,” Dobson recalls. “I got to know my professors well. We would see them out in the community and had the opportunity to become close on a personal level.”
His appreciation of SWOSU inspires him to give back to his alma mater. Dobson sponsors an annual golf tournament fundraiser for student athletes, has endowed several chairs and in 2008 Southwestern’s business school was named the Everett Dobson School of Business and Technology on the heels of a $1 million donation from Everett and Jeanetta Dobson. The couples’ generosity has paved the way for the success of a new generation of students and graduates entering the workforce.
Over the course of his career he has learned a few things about building a successful workforce in Oklahoma.
“I’m a big believer in the Regional University System – it provides a very important educational structure for the rural areas of Oklahoma. One that is unquestionably important to the economy and educational achievement of those communities and our state.”