During the summer of 2020, Oklahoma Christian University underwent an academic restructure that consolidated current academic programs into two colleges and introduced a third, the New College. New College reaches high school students and working professionals without degrees who want to earn college credit on their own time, meeting the need for degrees across the state.
The dean of this new flock of Eagles? Sada Knowles, Ph.D. And who better to lead New College than the honors graduate, family science scholar, Spring Sing club director, lifelong Eagle herself?
Knowles knows OC like the back of her hand and is the confident, loving, action-oriented leader needed to see New College succeed.
Knowles graduated from OC in 2002 with a double major in Family Studies and Vocational Ministry, aspiring to help build stronger families. She returned to OC for a few years as a professor before, then-president of Oklahoma Christian Academy, Brandon Tatum, Ed.D. appointed Knowles as the principal of OCA. Knowles and Tatum teamed up to lead OCA toward growth before making their way to full-time members of the OC family, leading the charge of New College.
“It was time for OC to make bold moves,” Knowles said. “President deSteiguer and his team knew I love OC, that I’m not afraid to try new things, that I care about the quality of my work and I had faculty experience on campus. I feel really lucky.”
Knowles joined the OC team as Dean of the New College in June 2020. Tatum also moved from OC consultant to Chief Strategy Officer in 2021. Together, they innovate new ways to deliver education into the marketplace where need and demand are greatest.
“Brandon is the dreamer, and I’m the doer. We make a great team,” Knowles said. “Brandon connects with people well and has had a lot of experience in Christian education. He trusts me to execute his vision, and I’m thrilled we get to work together.”
Thanks to Knowles, Tatum and their team, New College is filling gaps in Oklahoma’s job market. New College offers flexible and affordable programs that do not follow the traditional path to a degree. Students of the New College can earn their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing while working at Integris. Teacher’s assistants can double their salary by tackling an interdisciplinary studies degree to become a teacher. Adults who are approved by the State Board of Education can enroll in OC’s Academy of Alternative Certification. High school students can get ahead by enrolling in concurrent college courses.
“I’m proud of how OC has served residential students over the years,” Knowles said. “But there are people across the state who haven’t had the opportunity to commit to the four years many degrees require. New College is taking our strengths, connecting with people and educating them, and bringing those strengths to people who haven’t yet had the OC experience.”