R. Stafford North moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in January 1952 to teach speech and become an integral part of life at what would eventually become Oklahoma Christian University.
From the beginning, North brought energy, enthusiasm and creativity to everything he touched. Teaching speech, homiletics and occasionally tennis, he challenged students to think and to develop skills. He was involved in the first drama productions and won the first trophy the school ever earned in a drama competition at the University of Oklahoma.
After a brief leave of absence to complete his doctorate, North returned to serve as advisor, mentor and friend to two presidents. His role in the development of the first buildings on the Oklahoma City campus was significant, and from 1958 to 1995 all campus facilities had his special imprimatur. Stafford and Jo Anne North have been deeply involved in everything that has gone on at the university. As the chief of operations for more than 30 years, he helped shaped policy, long-range planning and academic quality for the university.
Dr. North is the consummate teacher. Whether he is in a classroom with a group of freshmen or in a meeting of an administrative team, he is always in the role of sharing information and leading people to new understandings of opportunities and challenges. For 17 years, he served as the chief academic officer and led the university through a period of rapid expansion and dramatic changes.
Pioneering in the development of alternate ways of delivering information, Dr. North made the Mabee Learning Center a hub for teachers from universities around the country who wanted to learn more about the uses of technology in college instruction. He not only developed programs using taped instructions with workbooks, but he articulated the philosophical concepts for other teachers to imitate what he had done. His years of administration were never a disruption to his commitment as a teacher. When he decided to step out of administration in 1994, he became a Distinguished Professor of Bible and continued his innovative ways by offering the first online course in the university’s history.
For two generations, students have watched Stafford North running across the campus to avoid being late for his next appointment. All have seen him respond immediately anytime there was a crisis in technology in Hardeman Auditorium or in a dining facility where a presentation was to be made.
He has always enjoyed performing for an audience. His innumerable presentations at First Week Follies have been a source of joy to him and to all of the audiences. Even when he is before a class or a group of adults, he has some element of a performer, and as an exemplary communicator, he is enthusiastically involved and so alive that he sparks energy and life for those around him. For much of Oklahoma Christian’s history, Stafford North has been shaping and directing the course of student learning and institutional life.
Dr. North is a member of the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. In 2011, Oklahoma Christian honored him with the Faculty Leadership Award.