Taking the Baton John deSteiguer Chosen to Succeed Mike O'Neal

Dawn Shelton (90) Additional reporting by Kelsey Frobisher

In his first address as Oklahoma Christian University’s president-elect, John deSteiguer thanked those who have come before him to build on the university’s mission of transforming lives for Christian faith, scholarship and service.

He thanked faculty members, previous presidents, board members and students who have built on OC’s humble beginnings over the last 62 years to bring the university to its stature today as a nationally-recognized and vibrant institution. 

“What an honor this is for me and for my family,” deSteiguer told a capacity crowd in Hardeman Auditorium on February 6. “To me, Oklahoma Christian is home, and I want it to be your home.”

He explained that home is where you are nurtured, grow and learn, and that home is the place that prepares you to make a difference in the world. 

A native of Tahlequah, Okla., deSteiguer was elected as the next president of Oklahoma Christian by the Board of Trustees in February, culminating a six-month national search process. 

deSteiguer, who currently serves as OC’s senior vice president for advancement, will officially succeed Dr. Mike O’Neal (68) and assume the duties and responsibilities of the president on May 1.

“Dr. deSteiguer is well-known and well-respected in the community and on our campus, giving Oklahoma Christian a visionary leader who possesses a strong appreciation and respect for Christian education and the difference it makes in the lives of our students,” OC board chair Don Millican said. “He has a proven track record in the area of development that is critical to our future success. We look forward to working with him to advance Oklahoma Christian as one of our country’s finest private Christian universities.”

Millican said OC was blessed to have two well-qualified and talented finalists, deSteiguer and Dr. Allison Garrett (84), senior vice president for academic affairs, who were selected in December by the Presidential Search Committee.

deSteiguer has spent almost two decades in higher education. He served at his alma mater, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, as a senior development officer before arriving at OC in 2003 as part of President O’Neal’s new administration.

During nine years as OC’s chief advancement officer, a record $110 million was given to the university, including the successful $60 million Higher Learning~Higher Calling campaign, that was completed ahead of schedule.

The campaign led to significant improvements for the campus, including the new Lawson Commons, featuring the Freede Centennial Tower and McGraw Pavilion, and the $7.5 million initiative to build the Noble Science Wing and upgrade the Mabee Laboratories at Vose Hall. 

The campaign also produced four new endowed chairs and more than 60 new or enhanced maintenance, operating and scholarship endowments.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the board’s decision and confidence in me,” deSteiguer said. “OC is a one-of-a-kind university and I appreciate our board, faculty, staff and alumni. During my nine years here, I have been inspired by the personal engagement our students receive to ensure they are intellectually and spiritually ready to succeed and serve when they graduate.”

deSteiguer is a member of several civic organizations, including the Edmond Chamber of Commerce’s executive committee, the Oklahoma Planned Giving Council, the Edmond Rotary Club and the Oklahoma Bar Association.

He received his undergraduate degree at Northeastern State, summa cum laude, in 1984. He was a Rotary International Scholarship recipient at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, and earned his juris doctorate from Pepperdine University, magna cum laude, in 1989.

He and his wife, Darla, also an attorney, have two teenage children, Joe and Abby. He is a frequent Bible class teacher and a deacon at Memorial Road Church of Christ.

“On behalf of the board, we thank the entire OC community - faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters - for their prayers and encouragement during this exciting transition,” Millican said. “We are also grateful to President O’Neal for his fine leadership that has strengthened our university in many ways and positioned us for greater success in the future.”

Dr. O’Neal, who will continue to serve the university as president emeritus, congratulated the board on its selection of deSteiguer as his successor.

“The future looks extremely bright under the future leadership of Dr. deSteiguer,” O’Neal said. “We need someone who is prepared to see a new vision from where we are now, articulate that vision for the community and then inspire the people to go there. No doubt Dr. deSteiguer is capable of doing that.”

Spring 2012

View more stories from the Spring 2012 issue of Vision magazine.