After serving 10 years as Northern Oklahoma College president, Dr. Cheryl Evans announced her plans to retire effective June 30, 2021.
“After much reflection over the winter break, I determined that the timing is right for my personal life and the life of this historic 120-year-old college,” Evans said.
“In the back of my mind, I’ve always felt like 10 years in this role would be enough time to accomplish many goals, but hopefully not enough time to wear out my welcome as the average length of tenure for a college president is about six years.”
“I did hesitate this fall as I was initially unsure if I should follow through with my intentions because of the pandemic, but I am comfortable now as NOC has established effective pandemic plan protocols and has found a workable path through this unique time in history,” she added.
“I was thrilled to begin work at NOC on June 1, 2011, and it has been a privilege to serve as the NOC President and I was honored to be the first female president in the College’s history,” she said. “I am a better person for having worked at NOC and having some small part in the school’s accomplishments. NOC has certainly been a life-changing experience for me and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. I intend to be fully engaged until the last day of my employment, and I will continue to serve NOC at the board’s pleasure until the new president takes office, even if that extends past June.”
“I appreciate the board members who gave me this opportunity ten years ago and the present Board of Regents, who continue to provide excellent leadership, expertise and support to the College,” she added. “I am certain that over the next six months, the board will identify and hire the right person to become the 14th President of this institution. That fortunate individual will be blessed as I have to work with such a talented, caring group of people. I’m confident that our students and employees will continue to successfully persevere to achieve NOC’s mission to provide quality, affordable and accessible higher education experiences for decades to come.”
Dr. Evans received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. She finished her Master of Arts in Communication at Wichita State University and her Doctorate in Education at Oklahoma State University. Evans is the thirteenth president since NOC was founded in 1901.Prior to her position at NOC, Evans served seventeen years at NWOSU as an instructor and chair of communication department on the Alva campus then led the University’s Enid campus.
With the announcement of her retirement, President Evans leaves the College a tremendous legacy of academic success, innovation, and growth. Under Evans’ leadership during her tenure, the College has:
- Recently undergone a multi-year project with the implementation of the enterprise resource planning system (ERP) that is an important goal from our strategic planning as the last major update was thirty years ago. This student information system is on track to be fully operational by the end of this academic year and the new operating software will provide a powerful tool for students and better data for employees to make more informed decisions in the future;
- Been reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC), reaccredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) for its associate degree program in Nursing, and reaccredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) for its associate degree program in Business;
- Increased grant activity across the College. Most significantly the $1.75 million award for Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions which concludes in September 2021 has made a big impact. NOC’s applicationidentified a wide variety of activities through three main initiatives including improved online instruction with Quality Matters training and course certification initiatives and the creation of the Cultural Engagement Center;
- Received national recognition over the past decade being identified in the top 10% of community colleges in the nation four times by the Aspen Institute in Washington DC, as well as receiving recognition from WalletHub, Smart Assets, and top associate degree producer by Diverse Issues in Higher Education;
- Experienced significant growth in the number of associate degrees earned;
- Supported extensive capital outlay for improvement of infrastructure and facilities, including the renovation and restoration of NOC’s very first structure, Central Hall, which was built in 1901on the Tonkawa campus. NOC also built new residence halls, Mavericks Hall in Tonkawa and Jets Hall in Enid, and we built the beautiful new NOC Stillwater classroom building on OSU’s campus. All of these new construction projects were a direct result of student and employee feedback during town hall meetings while developing our 2013-18 strategic plan. A few other physical plant improvement projects included the Marshall building’s Bivens Chapel restoration, and the renovation of cafeterias and student center spaces, the update of electrical and HVAC to save thousands of dollars in utilities; in addition, NOC replaced roofs, refreshed exteriors of older buildings, fixed plumbing, sidewalks, etc. and many other non-glitzy, but very necessary projects to create safe, efficient, and attractive spaces for our students to learn and live;
- Encouraged private and public partnerships across the institution which has played a big part in the College’s success. For example, the Enel Wind Energy partnership and the Autry Technology Respiratory Care program both help students enter the workforce directly. We also enjoy strong long-term relationships with NWOSU with the Bridge Program and with OSU in the NOC/OSU Gateway program. Both of these programs help NOC students successfully transfer to baccalaureate programs;
- Maintained a fiscal responsibility through NOC operations. We have been good stewards of the College’s finances, which has helped us survive such challenging economic times; in fact, we were even able to pay off the Enid Campus Bond one-year early because of sound fiscal practices. We have managed to include a few pay increases and maintain some of the best benefit packages and leave programs in the state for our employees. We even found ways to avoid furloughs during the most challenging times and continued support for professional development. Northern has always been focused on investing in new technology and distance learning equipment through the years, which enabled NOC to respond effectively to the fast transition to the world of virtual learning this past year. Also, through planning, we placed emphasis on institutional research by developing a full-time position that helps with numerous state, federal, and accreditation reporting requirements in addition to creating and publishing the annual NOC Fact Book for the past eight years;
- Experienced significant growth in financial net assets and scholarship awards in the Northern Oklahoma College Foundation. Net assets grew from approximately 5.5 million in 2011 to over 12 million in 2020. We’ve also seen annual private scholarships increase from just over $99,000 awarded to 201 students in 2011-12 to $245,123 awarded to 395 recipients this past year. In addition, we established the Presidential Partners Program through the Northern Oklahoma College Foundation, which in times like this provides much needed enhancements for our students and employees that our college budget is unable to meet;
- Undergone a major branding project that updated our institutional visual images and created the graphic standards guide that helps put Northern forward in a professional, consistent way. The new tagline that evolved from the focus groups “Life Changing” is the Northern experience. An extension of this project was the NOC Wayfinding signage project, which helped identify all of our buildings with clear visible signage in school colors to help new students and visitors get around our campuses.
On leaving NOC, Evans plans to assist her husband Tom’s expanding business interests and serve non-profit organizations but mostly spend time playing with her grandchildren, as well as spending quality time with her family and friends, and hopefully traveling. After her retirement, the Evans plan to split time at their rural home in Alfalfa County and in Tulsa to be near their grandchildren.
“Dr. Evans’ leadership and guidance for the past ten years has been impeccable. While Dr. Evans has served as Northern Oklahoma College’s 13th president, NOC has been designated in the top 10% of community colleges in the nation, has reached a record number of earned associate degrees, and has enhanced all three campus locations through many building renovations,” said Jodi Cline, Chair of the Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents.
Cline continued, “During this pandemic, we have witnessed her passion for making sure the students, faculty and staff’s health and well-being were always at the forefront of every decision. On behalf of the Board of Regents, I can’t thank Dr. Evans enough for her countless hours and dedication given to Northern Oklahoma College.”
The NOC Board of Regents will formally approve Evans’ resignation due to retirement at the January 25 Board of Regents Meeting to be held on the Tonkawa campus. Chair Jodi Cline stated that the NOC Board of Regents will launch a national search for her replacement.