OBU Names Blue Interim Chief Academic Officer

Oklahoma Baptist University has named Dr. Deborah Blue as interim senior vice president for academic affairs, OBU President Mark Brister announced Monday morning.

Blue, who currently serves as dean of OBU’s College of Arts and Sciences, will fill the post being vacated by Dr. James P. Colman. Colman resigned from the university’s administration earlier this month to accept a similar post at Charleston Southern University, a Baptist institution in Charleston, S.C. He will join the CSU administration July 1, 2006.

“Dr. Blue will lead us through this interim period as we press forward in fulfilling OBU’s mission,” said Dr. Brister. “There are many significant tasks in progress, including full implementation of curriculum changes, the start of a graduate program in business, and preparation for upcoming academic accreditation visits.

“Dr. Colman has provided key leadership during his tenure with the university. We must keep moving forward as we build on a tradition of rigorous liberal arts education in a caring community,” said the OBU president.

In addition to heading OBU’s largest academic division, Blue also holds the rank of professor of mathematics. The Shawnee native is a 1972 OBU graduate. She joined the university’s faculty in 1980 after teaching as an adjunct instructor at Tulsa Junior College, and teaching junior high school and middle school mathematics for six years.

“We are thankful to have Dr. Blue accept this important leadership role,” said Brister. “She is a proven educator and administrator, and she has a well-deserved reputation as a caring member of the OBU family.”

Brister said OBU is seeking to have a senior vice president for academic affairs employed by late this summer.

“It is my desire to have a new chief academic officer on board with our administration by the start of the fall semester,” he said. “At this point, it is too early to comment on the logistical process for identifying candidates for that post.”

Blue has served in various leadership roles during her OBU career. She chaired the university’s “vision team,” which worked in early 2005 to assess the institution’s core curriculum. From that work, OBU has implemented several curriculum changes in what university officials characterize as a move to strengthen an already respected liberal arts program.

“Dr. Blue has demonstrated a clear understanding of our mission and the key elements which have contributed to OBU’s reputation for exceptional liberal arts preparation,” said Brister. “She knows the institution very well, as an OBU graduate, as an active alumna, and for the past 26 years as a vital member of our team.”

Blue currently serves on the Oklahoma State Board of Education, having been appointed to the board by Gov. Frank Keating in 1998, and reappointed by Gov. Brad Henry in 2004. She also is a member of the State Board of Career and Technology Education. She is vice chair of the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation and chairs that organization’s assessment committee, which oversees the state’s teacher certification examinations.

Blue earned a bachelor of science degree at OBU, and completed a master of science degree in mathematics from the University of Tulsa in 1975. She earned a doctor of education degree in curriculum and instruction from Oklahoma State University in 1991.

Blue’s husband, James Blue, is principal at Tecumseh High School. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Shawnee, where she has taught in the children’s choir program for 25 years, and currently chairs the church’s personnel committee. The Blues have four children, Jami Veenstra, a 1994 OBU graduate; Bethany Blue, Clay Collum, a 2002 OBU graduate; and Andrea Collum, a member of OBU’s Class of 2006. The Blues also have two grandsons, Hayden and Harrison Blue-Hicks.