Kyle Stafford

MIAMI, Okla. — Following a half-year search, Kyle Stafford has been named the 16th president of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

Stafford, currently the vice president of university advancement at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma, will begin Jan. 6. He succeeds Jeff Hale, who retired at the end of July after 11 years as president.

"I am honored to be selected as the next president," Stafford said in a statement late Friday afternoon. "It’s been an amazing whirlwind during the final phase of the interview process, and we were able to meet some truly outstanding students, staff, faculty and community members. My wife, Kim, and I were thrilled with what NEO has to offer students and it is evident the work done here is far-reaching."

The decision was made Thursday by the school’s Board of Regents. Board chairman Tucker Link said in a news release he was “thrilled” with the selection.

“His leadership role at Southeastern Oklahoma State University has prepared him well for this position," Link said in a statement. "We look forward to the continued success and growth of NEO under his direction and guidance.”

Other finalists were Mark Rasor, vice president for fiscal affairs at NEO and the interim president since Hale's departure, and Melissa K. Mahan, with Texas A&M University-San Antonio. All three were selected by a search committee.

“As part of the interview process, Dr. Stafford met with (NEO) students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members, and all stakeholders are very excited to welcome Dr. Stafford to campus,” said Jordan Adams, coordinator of public information and marketing for the college. “Our executive plan goes through 2020, so over the next year, we are excited to develop a new vision with Dr. Stafford for the future of NEO.”

Stafford called NEO a special place and "premier residential campus."

"I feel it is important to really learn and take in the culture of NEO," he said. "That will entail visiting with its stakeholders on campus and in the community to gain a variety of perspectives. From there, I plan to bring those perspectives into our executive strategy development over the next year and see where we can be innovative as higher education evolves.”

Stafford holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeastern and earned his doctorate in higher education management from Northcentral University, an online university headquartered in San Diego.

“I can't speak for the board," Adams said, "but they seemed very pleased with all the candidates and believed Dr. Stafford was the best fit for NEO moving forward."

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