Oklahoma Christian University alumna Dr. Allison Garrett officially took the office of president of Emporia State University on Sept. 16 at a formal inauguration.
Garrett graduated from Oklahoma Christian with her bachelor’s in English in 1984, from University of Tulsa’s College of Law with her doctorate in jurisprudence in 1987 and from Georgetown University’s Law Center with her master’s in law in 1992. Garrett also served as Oklahoma Christian’s vice president of academic affairs from 2007 to 2012
“I think she got lots of good experience here as a student,” Oklahoma Christian President John deSteiguer said. “She taught in a law school down in Alabama before she came up here to serve as Vice President of Academic Affairs. Then, she went down to Abilene Christian University to serve as their Executive Vice President for several years, which gave her a whole new perspective and set of experiences. She’s probably the best rounded, experienced person going into a presidency that I’m familiar with.”
Garrett began working at Emporia State in January, but the inauguration did not occur until nine months later.
“Normally, in higher ed., an inauguration occurs some months after a president is selected,” Garrett said. “It is just really a way to celebrate the university. We were able to showcase many of our students, particularly those in the arts. Our choir sang and we had several different musical groups that performed at various events throughout the weekend.”
Dr. Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney for people such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks during the civil rights movement, spoke at the pre-inauguration lecture.
“He had a lot of really interesting experiences to share,” Garrett’s daughter, Oklahoma Christian junior Tori Garrett said. “It was actually really cool to hear from him because when I was a freshman, he came and spoke at History Speaks. He spoke on pretty much the same thing, but the way that he said things and the tone of his voice was very different comparing the two lectures.”
Allison Garrett said the she thinks Emporia, KS. is a wonderful fit for her family.
“I grew up in a small town and my husband grew up on a farm,” Allison Garrett said. “It’s a really neat town,and the university is a university that is really focused on quality academics. That was something that was important to me. I feel like the primary motivator is that I love being able to invest in young people and help them to move on, and realize whatever their God-given potential is. I feel like I can really do that at Emporia State.”
Tori Garrett said moving to Emporia was a change from her previous home in Abilene, TX.
“Abilene had about 250,000 people in the town and Emporia has like 20,000 people, which is really small,” Tori Garrett said. “They’ve all been really nice, which we’re thankful for. It’s just that moving anywhere is a big change, especially when your mom is like the top dog, so everyone knows who you are or at least knows who she is.”
Allison Garrett said while Emporia State is a public university, it is not as different from Oklahoma Christian as she expected.
“One of the things that was a bit of a surprise was along one side of campus we have a string of on-campus ministries,” Allison Garrett said. “I guess another way that it’s different from OC is, because it is a state institution and therefore receives some state funding, we’re able to keep our prices fairly low. I think that is incredibly important for a school like Emporia State that, while offering high-caliber academics, is also able to serve a population of students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college.”
A full transcript of Dr. Allison Garrett’s inauguration speech can be found here.