Blue Named Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Deborah C. Blue has been named Oklahoma Baptist University’s senior vice president for academic affairs, effective immediately, announced OBU President Mark Brister Wednesday morning.

Blue, previously dean of OBU’s College of Arts and Sciences, had been serving as the university’s interim senior vice president for academic affairs since June, following the resignation of Dr. James Colman, who had served in the chief academic officer’s role for three years.

Speaking in front of approximately 1,700 students, faculty, staff and guests, Brister announced the administrative appointment at the close of OBU’s annual Convocation service in Raley Chapel. The announcement followed Blue’s delivery of the Convocation address.

“Dr. Blue, you have a proven track record of OBU institutional loyalty, personal and professional verifiable integrity, educational expertise, and  as a lifelong Oklahoma Baptist  full appreciation for and understanding of the historic and strategic mission of OBU as a Christian liberal arts university that transforms lives,” said Brister. “Therefore, I am removing the word ‘interim’ from your title.”

The announcement was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience. Blue joined the university’s faculty in 1980 and holds the rank of professor of mathematics. She was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, OBU’s largest academic division, in 1996.

Following Colman’s resignation, Brister reassembled the OBU search committee which had conducted extensive interviews with chief academic officer candidates in 2003.

“All of the committee members agreed that Dr. Blue merited strong consideration for the position,” said Brister. “Her leadership throughout the summer months overwhelmingly confirmed that she is the right person for this role at this juncture in OBU’s history.”

“As an alumna, former faculty member, and current dean, Dr. Blue truly understands what makes OBU such a special place,” said Dr. Dan Reeder, a search committee member and current chair of OBU’s Faculty Council. “She is a gifted educator and innovative administrator. She is an engaged leader who will be responsive to the changing educational environment while at the same time maintaining OBU’s tradition of academic excellence in a Christian liberal arts environment.”

“She is knowledgeable of the university, works well with people, has worked her way up the ranks of administration, and is dedicated beyond measure to the growth and success of OBU,” said search committee member Linda McElroy, professor of kinesiology and leisure studies.

Rhetta Hudson, associate professor of music, who also was on the committee, cited Blue’s institutional history and track record as strengths: “I believe she has the vision to move OBU forward and the history to respect our heritage. The experience and work she has done as dean has prepared her to step forward in the senior vice president’s role.”

A Shawnee native, Blue graduated from OBU in 1972. Prior to returning to her alma mater, she was an adjunct instructor at Tulsa Junior College, and taught junior high school and middle school mathematics for six years.

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.

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.