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Emporia State president chosen to lead Oklahoma’s higher education system

By: - September 25, 2021 12:21 am
Allison Garrett, president of Emporia State University since 2016, has been selected as the next chancellor of higher education in Oklahoma. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Allison Garrett, president of Emporia State University since 2016, has been selected as the next chancellor of higher education in Oklahoma. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The president of Emporia State University has been selected as the first woman to hold the job of chancellor for Oklahoma’s higher education system.

Allison Garrett, who was hired to lead Emporia State in 2016, becomes the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education’s ninth chancellor in November. She will lead all 25 public higher education institutions in the state, in concert with the Oklahoma State Regents.

Jeffrey Hickman, chairman of the nine-member higher education board, said a national search led to Garrett when the system had to modernize to meet evolving workforce needs. Transition can occur through operational efficiencies and with expanded collaboration to make sure students “know the dream of a college degree can be a reality,” Hickman said.

Garrett’s ties to Oklahoma, academic leadership and corporate experience will help her “blaze a new trial for higher education,” said Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Sitt.

Before serving as president of ESU, Garrett worked as executive vice president at Abilene Christian University, senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University and as an associate professor of law at Faulkner University in Alabama. She worked for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and spent more than a decade at Walmart’s corporate offices.

Garrett is from Missouri, but she earned degrees at Oklahoma Christian, University of Tulsa and Georgetown University. Garrett and her husband operate a cattle ranch in northeast Oklahoma.

“Education opens doors and provides pathways for people to change their lives for the better,” Garrett said. “I am honored to serve the people of Oklahoma and to help move this great state forward.”

Cheryl Harrison-Lee, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Regents, said ESU made strides in student retention, graduation rates and job placement during her time on campus. Garrett is a “high-caliber, outcomes-based leader” who served the Kansas higher education system well, Harrison-Lee said.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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