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OC Alumna Allison Garrett thrives in president role

In most business and communication classes, professors stress the importance of a great resume. Allison Garrett, a woman decorated with accomplishments, clearly listened to those professors. 

A member of Oklahoma Christian University’s 1984 graduating class, Garrett became Emporia State University’s president in 2016, adding another notch to her prestigious career.

Garrett graduated with a bachelor’s in English and then embarked on a postgraduate education, fulfilling the requirements of a Doctor of Jurisprudence at the University of Tulsa’s College of Law in 1987. 

Shortly after, Garrett received her master’s in law from Georgetown University’s Law Center while also working at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a staff attorney.

In 1994, Garrett relocated to Bentonville, AR, to work for Walmart’s general counsel, where she would eventually serve as vice president from 2003-2004. 

She then transitioned back into the world of education, serving as an assistant professor of law at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. 

Three years later in 2007, Garrett rejoined her alma mater working as the senior vice president for Oklahoma Christian. Back as an Eagle, she supervised the school’s library and Honors program and accompanied various committees. 

In 2012, Garrett began a three-and-a-half-year term as Abilene Christian University’s executive vice president, where she oversaw the financial operations, enrollment, marketing and university facilities before accepting her current position at Emporia State.

In an interview with the Emporia State Bulletin, Garrett discussed the value of varying opinions. 

“Viewpoints and perspectives that differ from our own enrich all of our experiences,” Garrett said. “Learning from each other, however, can be messy.”

Garrett continued to state it is an individual responsibility to create an open environment of discussion. 

“It is up to each of us to foster a culture that reflects Emporia State’s core values of excellence, respect, responsibility and service,” Garrett said. “A culture where it is safe to share ideas, ask questions, discuss issues and speak from the heart.”

In an interview with CJ Online, Garrett stressed the importance of increasing the enrollment at Emporia State. 

“We need to be thinking about how to engage prospective students,” Garrett said. “We have to communicate with them on every media platform we can.”

Garrett has recently received funding to support first-generation college students in hopes of increasing the documented level of higher education attainment. 

“This is a major investment in their future, and their families often see it as a path to success,” Garrett said. “We need to win over the whole family.”

Recent Oklahoma Christian graduate Kolton Brown, who now works in the field of education, commented on Garrett’s inspiring journey and recent ventures.

“She is making an impact,” Brown said. “There is a lot left to be desired from a state education perspective. There isn’t necessarily a whole lot of outreach or affordable options available to first-generation, low-income families. It’s a cycle that is hard to get out of.” 

Brown continued to stress more state schools and universities should follow Garrett’s lead.

“I think this pursuit we are seeing at Emporia should become nationwide,” Brown said. “It is a genuine problem—student debt and dropping out of college, or not even starting to begin with, they go hand in hand.” 

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