As OBU enters a period of presidential transition, the time of change will be supervised by a very familiar face to many in the University community.
John W. Parrish, who has been affiliated with OBU as a faculty member, administrator, or broadcaster for the past 43 years, will officially assume the role of interim president on November 11. OBU President Mark Brister will retire from the chief executive post at the conclusion of the University's Homecoming celebration Saturday, Nov. 10.
Parrish retired as OBU's executive vice president in 2002. Shortly thereafter, he was named executive vice president emeritus by the OBU board of trustees. His retirement has been an active time for the Oklahoma native who served in many dual roles while a full-time OBU employee. In addition to serving as president of the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society, Parrish is chairman of OBU's Centennial Committee, and also continues to be the voice of the OBU Bison, serving as play-by-play announcer for Bison basketball. He also has written two books since retiring
Parrish, 67, has worked for six OBU presidents, and been a part of the interim period following each of those leaders' announced departures. He was hired by OBU President James Ralph Scales and Dr. William Neptune, dean of OBU's College of Liberal Arts. He joined the faculty as instructor of journalism in 1964 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1967. He was chair of the journalism department from 1964-76. He also joined the OBU staff as director of publications and publicity in 1964. He was named director of public relations in 1966 and served in that role until 1979, when he was named director of alumni and annual giving. He was promoted to assistant vice president for development in 1983, and named vice president for institutional advancement in 1986. In 1991 he became senior vice president for business and external affairs. In 1995 he was promoted to executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Parrish has received numerous honors and awards from OBU, including having the university's public relations office suite in Agee Residence Center named in his honor when he retired in 2002. He was named an honorary member of the OBU Alumni Association in 1989, and inducted into the OBU Athletic Hall of Fame the same year. He received OBU's Meritorious Service Award in 1989, and the OBU Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award in 1974.
Parrish is married to the former Mary Kay Higginbotham. Mrs. Parrish taught music at OBU from 1964-2002, and directed the renowned University Ringers handbell choir. The Parrishes are members of University Baptist Church in Shawnee, where Parrish is a deacon and has served in an array of leadership roles. The Parrishes have two children. Dr. John Michael Parrish, 34, is assistant professor of political science at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif. Robin Lynn Parrish McAlister, a summa cum laude graduate of OBU, is a graduate student in public policy at Duke University.