By: Brittney Payette
Cameron University’s President of 11 years, Dr. John McArthur, announced his retirement this summer 2024.
McArthur started his journey at Cameron on July 1, 2004, as Dean of the School of Science and Technology. He had that position for two years and then became Vice President of Academic Affairs. He was also provost for a couple of years before he became Cameron’s president on July 1, 2013.
“I really enjoy the variety,” McArthur said. “I look forward to each day… If I had to pick a favorite day every year, it would be commencement. It has the opportunity to see our students finish the Cameron part of their journey and then get ready to go into the next part of their lives. I really enjoy that each year.”
McArthur said he is retiring from other positions associated with Cameron as well.
“I will be stepping down from the board positions that I’m on,” he said. “Most of the boards I’m on, I’m on as Cameron’s president. So, when Cameron picks its next leader, I’m sure they will inherit some of those positions.”
Some of the boards McArthur is currently a part of include serving as an ex officio member of the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, the Lawton Economic Development Corporation and the Duncan area Economic Development Foundation Board. He is also a part of the program to stimulate competitive research at the state level and an advisor for the Presidential Leaders and University Scholars program. He said he looks forward to seeing what Cameron University will become in the future.
“As we grow and develop, we certainly want everyone at Cameron to move forward and add new skills,” he said. “And grow and pursue new opportunities.”
McArthur said there are other people who are leaving Cameron as well, including Vice President for Academic Affairs Ronna Vanderslice, Vice President for Business and Finance Ninette Carter, Director of Physical Facilities Bob Hanefiled, and Director of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Accountability Karla Oty.
McArthur and Oty are married and have worked together at three different institutions – Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Colorado State University – Pueblo, and Cameron University.
“It has been rewarding to work together to try to further the mission of Cameron University,” Oty said. “My favorite part about working at Cameron is working with the students. I have enjoyed teaching students in various mathematics and statistics classes, interacting with students in the Concert Band and the Community Band, and watching students perform in athletics, art, music, theatre, and other types of events.”
Oty began working at Cameron in August 2004 as an Associate Professor in Mathematics. From January 2005 through May 2010 she served as the Chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department and was the interim Dean of the School of Science and Technology from August 2006 through July 2008. She was granted tenure in 2007. Finally, in July 2010 she started at her current position, which is the Director of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Accountability.
Oty said she has enjoyed her time at Cameron and has high hopes for the future of the institution.
“I would encourage Cameron students, faculty and staff to support each other by attending events outside of their area,” she said. “We have wonderfully talented students and employees and this should be celebrated by everyone.”
McArthur said Cameron hired John Young as the new Director of Physical Facilities.
“He’s been doing that for two weeks now and is doing great work,” he said. “I’m looking forward to welcoming Lou Izzi as the next Director of Athletics upon the retirement of Jackson at the end of February.”
McArthur currently works for the Oklahoma Board of Regents, which is a board of seven people who are appointed by the governor each year.
“One of their primary responsibilities is to hire and evaluate the president of the universities of that board,” he said. “So, that would be Cameron University, Rogers State University, and the University of Oklahoma.”
McArthur said the board has not yet posted a notice of vacancy for his position. He said that the process of searching for a new university president involves the participation of faculty, staff, alumni and community members.
He said that when a board is searching for a new president, they generally first consider what direction they want the university to go in. Then, they begin looking for someone who they think is qualified and able to become president of the university.
“You will typically look for someone who certainly at least has a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “I mean, we’re in the business of creating college degrees, so you want the academic leader of the institution to hold a credential comparable to what’s produced by the institution.”
Additionally, McArthur said that he expects the board members to seek a candidate who has more detailed experience with some level of the university’s operations.
“It doesn’t have to be academic affairs like mine,” he said, “but it could be someone with a background in business, it could be someone with (an) enrollment management or student services background and university advancement. Fundraising’s a big part of the job.”
Postretirement McArthur said he wanted to do more of his hobbies, such as traveling and gardening.
“What’s number one on our list right now is to go to the Galapagos Islands,” he said. “We were set to go on a Cameron University Alumni and Donor trip. We were going to go in 2020. We were due to get on the plane three days before the world shut down for the pandemic… That’s somewhere I really want to go.”
McArthur said what he wants people to know is how proud he is of Cameron’s students.
“You make the job a joy,” he said. “Please keep coming. I think you’re the best of what the institution has. With each generation of students, you change, and you help us change Cameron with each passing year so we can adapt to your needs and your aspirations for the future.”
He said that Cameron would not be what it is today without its students.
“The students make the place,” McArthur said. “It’s been a privilege to be at this institution to work with our students, with our faculty and staff; it’s a great community. Collectively, they’re pulling for our students to succeed.”