When it comes to challenges that helped shape his life, John deSteiguer has experienced some of the same tragedies commonly experienced by others.
About six years ago, his father died very suddenly. At 2:30 a.m., deSteiguer got a call from his mother, informing him about what had happened and that paramedics were still at her house in Tahlequah.
deSteiguer got in the car and arrived at about 5 a.m. in Tahlequah. During the aftermath he helped his mother cope with the loss. He arrived at his parents’ home expecting it to be an extremely somber, lonely place. When he pulled into the driveway, his mother had six or seven couples from church who had been with her on an all-night vigil. Seeing that type of love was encouraging, he said.
“And that’s one of the things that makes church and Christianity so important to us,” deSteiguer said. “I’ve been in some fairly stressful work situations like everybody else has, as well. I’ve had a life that I’ve been able to handle with, I think, God’s grace and with family and friends.”
Earlier this year, deSteiguer, 50, reached a milestone in his life when Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond named him as its seventh president on May 1. His inauguration and opening convocation will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 27, a day of celebration for the energized campus. To see a full list of inaugural events, go online to www.oc.edu/events/inauguration/
OC President Emeritus Mike O’Neal said for many years God has provided experiences and opportunity for deSteiguer to prepare him as an extraordinary servant-leader for Christian higher education.
“He is a wonderful and gifted father, husband, church man and colleague,” O’Neal said. “The future of Oklahoma Christian is exceedingly bright under his people-focused leadership.”
O’Neal, who has publicly offered to help deSteiguer during the transition, said faith has been a source of comfort.
“Leadership transitions are often difficult for the outgoing president, but in this case, it is comforting to know that my successor is a man of great faith, exceptional intelligence and unwavering commitment to high-quality education of our youth from a biblical worldview,” O’Neal said.
After graduating from Tahlequah High School in 1980, deSteiguer went to Northeastern State as a political science major. He was active in the Model United Nations program, became NSU’s first Truman Scholar and served as president of NSU’s student government and the President’s Leadership Class before his graduation in 1984.
When he was directing NSU’s President’s Leadership Class, Don Betz recruited the 18-year-old deSteiguer. Betz, now the University of Central Oklahoma’s president, used words like exceptional, intelligence, impeccable integrity and a man of great faith to describe deSteiguer.
“I think he’s a marvelous, marvelous choice for the university,” Betz said.
Betz said he has followed deSteiguer’s career through the years, and he looks forward to defining their professional relationship in the years to come.
In August 1993, NSU made deSteiguer its senior development officer and executive director of the NSU Foundation. He came to OC in January 2003 as part of O’Neal’s new administration.
deSteiguer said OC has benefited from tremendous leadership by the university’s previous presidents. Going forward, he has simple goals — OC as home, OC grows and OC as mission. OC strives to be a university “that transforms lives for Christian faith, scholarship and service.”
The past five years have featured the five largest enrollments in OC history, including 2,193 students for the 2011-12 academic year. OC’s student body is composed of students from 42 states and 61 countries. deSteiguer’s five-year plan includes growing to 3,000 students and continued financial growth.
To reach that number, OC is promoting college affordability with new pricing. OC eliminated all student fees and did not raise students’ total costs for tuition, room and board for the 2012-13 academic year.
OC also expanded its block pricing to 17 hours per semester (up from 15). Tuition for most students taking 12-17 hours will be $18,800 per year. Total charges for the typical OC student, including room and board, will be $24,975. That price is far below the national private-school average of $38,589, and is further reduced by financial aid that makes OC’s nationally recognized education competitive with many state-supported institutions, deSteiguer said.
During his nine years as OC’s chief advancement officer, most recently as senior vice president for advancement, a record $110 million was given to the university, including the successful Higher Learning~Higher Calling campaign, which raised $64.3 million and was completed ahead of schedule.
deSteiguer has said he plans to continue the momentum by raising endowment money and paying down OC’s long-term debt.
WANT TO watch the full interview with OC President John deSteiguer? Go online to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR5qFu4MTlM.