By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor
Oklahoma Baptist University announced Dr. Susan DeWoody as the vice president of academic affairs. DeWoody is from a small 2A football town on the east side of the sooner state called Arkoma, Oklahoma. DeWoody and her brother are first-generation college graduates in her family to earn a bachelor degree.
“It’s a little crazy,” DeWoody said. “I have these really great parents who always had such a belief in my brother and me.”
DeWoody received her Bachelor of Science in education from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas and received her Master of Science in college student personnel services from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
“I always thought higher ed was great, but I had never really considered it would be a
career option for me,” DeWoody said. “I had someone speak into my life and he said he thought I should give it a shot.”
DeWoody said she loves learning and enjoys the academic environment and asked
herself why wouldn’t she pursue a career in higher education
“Being a female in higher education, especially Christian higher education, I tend to be a minority,” DeWoody said. “The idea that we should take every opportunity that is given to us. God just blew that door wide open for me and gave me an opportunity to get my doctorate at Dallas Baptist University.”
After receiving her Doctor of Education in educational leadership, DeWoody noticed that OBU had an opening.
In May of 2017, DeWoody was hired as the dean of the Graduate college and became integrated in the OBU community.
“They were looking for someone who had experience working with graduate programs, and I had that,” DeWoody said. “I always worked with enrollment and marketing, as well as the academic leadership side.”
Only a few months later, while at a graduate academic conference on New Orleans, DeWoody received a phone call from Dr. Whitlock asking her to serve as the interim VP.
She accepted the position as the interim but advised him that she would not be interested in filling the vacancy.
“I found myself bouncing out of bed really excited to come to work,” DeWoody said. “I’m a high energy person anyway, but I could feel this difference in the work I was doing. I was really enjoying it. It was a fun challenge every day, even though the work was hard and there was much work to be done, I still found myself excited about it.”
Since DeWoody was serving as the interim and had told everyone she wasn’t interested in the position, she agreed to serve on the search committee. After a couple of meetings, DeWoody felt called to apply.
“I continued to be encouraged by people on campus whom I respect,” DeWoody said. “I told the chair that I needed to resign from the committee because I was going to apply for the position.”
After resigning from the search committee, DeWoody threw her name into the ring of potential candidates. DeWoody went through the same process that every other external candidate went through, which included a phone interview, campus visits, countless meetings, and in-person interviews.
“I went through everything that the external candidates had to go through and I think I’m better for that,” DeWoody said. “I think it tells me that the Lord really is in this,” she said. “Going through that process, although it was long and sometimes I was ready for it
to just be over, I’m relieved that we went through that process because I think it solidified the decision on both sides.”
Senior Vice President for Advancement and University Relations, Will Smallwood, said she went through the external application process in order to make sure that the committee didn’t diminish her credibility or give her an unfair advantage over other candidates.
“We really wanted to be guided to the person that God wanted to be in this role,” Smallwood said. “We believe very seriously that God calls people and we wanted to make sure that our process was followed in such a way that people wouldn’t question her credibility.”
The committee was chaired by Dr. Smallwood and consisted of Dr. Karen Longest, Dr. Randy Ridenour, Dr. Heath Thomas, Dr. Linda McElroy, Dr. Gale Jones and Robert Davenport.
“OBU was looking for a vice president for academic affairs that would be an advocate for the Christian liberal arts tradition and a distinctively Baptist education,” Smallwood said.
Smallwood said he could not be more thrilled to have DeWoody serving as the VPAA.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge, a diversity of experience, and a very winsome attitude,” Smallwood said. “What excited me is that she checks all the boxes when it came to the job description. She has the aspects that we wanted and were looking for as a search committee.”
DeWoody said she finds great joy in working with college students, being a part of divisional meetings, and knowing what’s going on across Bison Hill.
“Being in this role has given me the opportunity to serve more directly with the cabinet level leadership at the institution and again see a much broader perspective and vision of the institution,” DeWoody said. “My intent is still the same which is to be out and supporting everyone in the community.”
DeWoody remains the acting dean of the graduate college, works with the athletic department, leads academic faculty and programs, oversees institutional effectiveness and assessment, and works with the academic deans.
“She’s already impacting OBU through her decision making and through her leadership,” Smallwood said