Editor’s note: This article has been updated with information on the new interim president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
The Regional University System of Oklahoma recently appointed Bryon Clark interim president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University following the resignation of Sean Burrage.
The University of Oklahoma recently announced the hiring of Burrage as its vice president for executive affairs, pending board of regents approval. Clark, who is currently serving as vice president for academic affairs at Southeastern, will assume his interim duties on October 12.
“President Burrage has been a tremendous leader and positive force for Southeastern,” RUSO Regent Chair Susan Winchester said. “During his five years at Southeastern, he has increased enrollment, and energized students, alumni, donors and partners within the community. The University will be in capable hands with Dr. Clark as we launch a national search for the next president. We will be seeking someone who understands the diverse and dynamic academic environment and connects with our multiple stakeholders.”
Clark has been associated with Southeastern since 1990, serving in various capacities, including the past three in his current position. Prior to beginning his administrative career, Clark taught biology for 15 years.
The RUSO Board of Regents will form a search committee for a new president at Southeastern. Burrage plans to begin his new duties next month.
“This was a very difficult decision, as the past five years at Southeastern have been the most professionally gratifying years of my life,” Burrage said in a prepared statement emailed to the Bryan County News. “At the same time, I felt like this (OU position) was a professional career opportunity that I could not afford to pass up. I will be returning to OU where I have roots — I not only graduated there, but worked previously in the President’s Office.”
In his new position, Burrage will be responsible for leading, directing, delegating or assisting with strategic projects, including matters involving university officials, community and government leaders, an OU press release explained.
“As an educator, civic leader and attorney, Mr. Burrage has led a devoted life of public service to Oklahoma,” OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. said in the press release. “He brings to this critical role deep experience in academia, intimate knowledge of our state and a strong commitment to our public mission.”
In his five years as president of Southeastern, the university reached record enrollment figures and doubled annual giving.
“Southeastern is positioned on a path to continued success, with record enrollment this fall, while experiencing financial stability,” Burrage said in his statement. “What we accomplished at the University over the past five years was made possible only by the tremendous support of our faculty, staff, students, community, and the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma. For that, I am most appreciative.’’
In 2015, Burrage was appointed to the Governor’s Education Advisory Committee, and in 2017, he was named to the State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education. As a two-term Oklahoma state senator, Burrage built a reputation as a strategic and fair-minded statesman.
“Mr. Burrage has tremendous character and intellect,” search committee member and former Oklahoma State Sen. Glenn Coffee said in the OU press release. “Even though we often found ourselves on opposite sides of issues during our time together in the State Senate, I have seen firsthand how skilled he is at strategy. He’ll be a superb addition to the University’s executive team.”
Burrage is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a two-time alumnus of OU, having earned a juris doctorate and bachelor of arts degree in accounting.
In addition to Burrage’s hiring, OU also announced it was hiring Tomás Díaz de la Rubia as OU’s vice president for research and partnerships. Díaz de la Rubia will join OU from Purdue University, where he served as chief scientific officer and senior vice president of strategic initiatives.
“My top priority in higher education is to ensure our universities have every competitive advantage to participate in and produce the best research in the nation,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in the OU press release. “I commend the University of Oklahoma for its vision to grow research opportunities at the institution and for its active recruitment to bring top-tier talent to the state. It was a pleasure to meet with Tomás Díaz de la Rubia while he was considering the offer, and I am confident his leadership will elevate OU’s reputation on the national stage.”