CASE District IV’s Chief Executive Leadership Award recognizes a District IV member institution president, headmaster, chancellor, educational system head or institutional CEO for outstanding efforts to promote understanding and support for education. The recipient – serving in one of these capacities – must have been at her or his current institution for five consecutive years prior to nomination for the award. That individual demonstrates the ability to create a vision; inspire others; establish a positive image for her or his institution while leading it to even higher levels of success; and increase the institution’s stature in the community.
2018 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award– Dr. Natalie J. Harder, Chancellor, South Louisiana Community College
Dr. Natalie J. Harder was named chancellor at South Louisiana Community College in 2012.
She is responsible for all operational, academic, student services, advancement, and workforce development aspects of the college and its 13,000+ students served annually. The college includes campuses in the nine parishes of South Louisiana and has a $28 million budget. During Dr. Harder’s first year, she oversaw the merger of SLCC and Acadiana Technical College, making this new comprehensive community college one of the fastest growing in Louisiana.
Through her leadership, she has made educational attainment a priority. The college campuses that have historically only offered technical programs began offering associate degrees. This makes it easier for residents to earn a degree close to where they live and work. In addition, many of the college’s technical programs were revamped and shorten to get well-prepared graduates into the workforce quicker. Her spirit of collaboration brought together the chief officers from the region’s largest hospital systems, who contributed financially to establishing the college’s Registered Nursing program. Additionally, this partnership established three endowed professorships in Registered Nursing.
She has been named a 2013 Darden College of Education Fellow at Old Dominion University and is a board member for Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System Foundation. She also has been named to the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In her role, she helped determine Commission policy, reviewed and made decisions regarding the accreditation of institutions, and served as a liaison between membership and Commission staff. In addition, Dr. Harder was elected to the American Association of Community College (AACC) Board of Directors in July 2015.
She and her husband, Cian Robinson, have two sons, Tucker and Rory.
2017 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award– Renu Khator, Ph.D., Chancellor, University of Houston System / President, University of Houston
Renu Khator holds the dual titles of Chancellor of the University of Houston (UH) System and President of the University of Houston. The UH System’s first woman chancellor and the first Indian immigrant to head a comprehensive research university in the United States, she assumed her post in January 2008.
As chancellor of the UH System, Khator oversees a four-university organization that serves nearly 70,000 students, has an annual budget that exceeds $1.7 billion, and produces a $6 billion-plus economic impact on the Greater Houston area each year.
As president of the University of Houston, she is the chief executive officer of the largest and oldest of the four UH System universities.
Khator was born in Uttar Pradesh, India, earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kanpur. She received her master’s degree in political science and Ph.D. in political science and public administration from Purdue University. A noted scholar in the field of global environmental policy, she has published numerous books and articles on the subject. Prior to her appointment, she was provost and senior vice president at the University of South Florida, capping a 22-year career at that institution.
2016 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award– Dr. Janet Cunningham, President, Northwestern Oklahoma State University
CASE District IV is honored to present the 2016 Dr. E. Joseph Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award to Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Cunningham has served Northwestern for more than 30 years, leading the school as its chief executive officer since July 2006. She is the second alum and first woman to serve as president of the institution. Under her leadership, Northwestern has been transformed into a dynamic, nationally recognized regional university that is leading the effort to improve life in western Oklahoma and beyond.
In less than 10 years, Cunningham has guided Northwestern to levels of success unimagined by most. During her tenure, enrollment rose from 1,800 students to more than 2,300. Focused on improving the academic reputation of the University, she led the effort to increase the number of specialized program accreditations to attract top students. Her efforts are paying dividends as the number of freshmen scoring a 29 or better on the ACT have doubled in the past four years. Cunningham also successfully led the transition of Northwestern from the NAIA to NCAA Division II.
Cunningham has placed a priority on improving the quality of life in rural western Oklahoma. In February of this year, Northwestern was given approval to begin its first doctoral program in advanced nursing practice, a program that has the potential to dramatically improve healthcare in rural Oklahoma by increasing the number of primary care providers. With higher education in Oklahoma sustaining record budget cuts, the program is being funded entirely with private gifts that are being used to create faculty endowments and pay for start-up costs.
During her tenure, private giving to Northwestern has soared as Cunningham has decentralized fundraising efforts and instilled a campus-wide culture of philanthropy. Since becoming president in 2006, Northwestern has raised more than $35 million in private gifts. Northwestern has established 43 endowed faculty chairs, the most of any regional university in Oklahoma, and five of every nine students now receive private scholarship dollars. Today, 55 percent of graduates leave the institution with no student debt. The current Imagine Northwestern Campaign has to date raised $19.9 million and will surpass its total expected goal of $20 million before going public in spring 2017.
In 2015, she was awarded the Kate Barnard Award, which is presented to female public servants who have contributed to an improved quality of life in Oklahoma. That same year, Cunningham was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame. She became a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma in 2001 and currently serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
2015 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award– David F. Rankin, Ph.D., CFA, President, Southern Arkansas University Community College
Dr. David F. Rankin was appointed the President of Southern Arkansas University in January 2002.
In addition to his duties as President, Rankin serves as the Economic Advisor to Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and is Chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. The economic advisor to the governor is responsible for chairing the Governor’s Council and reviewing the Arkansas state revenue forecast. In addition, the advisor has responsibilities for the promotion of coordinated economic development activities within the state.
Rankin received his bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Arkansas in 1964 and an M.B.A. in finance from Louisiana Tech University in 1966. He earned his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Mississippi in 1970 and earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1979.
In 1968, Rankin joined the faculty of SAU as an assistant professor of finance. From 1977-80, he served as Dean of the School of Business Administration and Professor of Economics and Finance at SAU. In 1991-92, Rankin was named Puterbaugh Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance. He was a Visiting Professor of Business and Economics and Consultant for the School of Business at Ouachita Baptist University from 1992-93. Dr. Rankin served again as a Puterbaugh Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance at Southern Arkansas, and again as Dean of the School of Business Administration from 1994-2001.
Prior to arriving at SAU, Rankin was in the Management Training Program and Production Planning at the Tennessee Eastman Company (Eastman Kodak). He was an instructor of business at Middle Tennessee State University from 1966-67.
In 1986, he was selected as University Honor Professor. In 1985, 1987, and 1993 he was given the Americanism Educational League Award for excellence in teaching Free Enterprise Economics, and he is a George Washington Honor Medal recipient from the Freedoms Foundation for Excellence in Economic Education. Rankin was given the Outstanding Phi Beta Lambda Advisor from Arkansas award in 1989. From 1987-90 he served on the FBLA-PBL, Inc. National Board of Directors.
In 1993, Rankin was President of the Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. He was Chair of the Governor’s Summit on Economic Development in 1998. He currently serves as Chair of the Golden Triangle Economic Development Council and serves on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Council of Economic Education. He serves on the Board of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities. Rankin has also served on the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Council and the NCAA Long-Range Planning Task Force. He is currently a member of the Arkansas Public School Resource Center Policy Board.
Dr. Rankin has been actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America and has received the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver Award. He is a member of Central Baptist Church and a Sunday School teacher in the Men’s Department.
Dr. Rankin and his wife, Toni, reside in Magnolia and have two sons, Curtice and John, and a daughter, Beth Anne.
2014 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award– Thomas K. McKeon, Ed.D., President, Tulsa Community College
Thomas K. McKeon was named president of Tulsa Community College (TCC) on July 1, 2004, making him the third president in TCC history.
McKeon joined TCC as an instructor in 1980 and served in a variety of administrative roles at the College, including dean of instruction, provost of two campuses and executive vice-president and chief operating officer, before being named president.
As president, McKeon’s focus on community-wide access and academic excellence for students has led to significant administrative and process improvements at Tulsa Community College. Under his leadership, TCC has grown to more than 28,000 students enrolled in credit classes and another 8,000 enrolled in continuing education classes each year. He has also championed TCC’s commitment to the national Complete College America initiative, which in 2013 yielded the largest number of graduates in the College’s 43-year history.
McKeon led the creation of the nationally recognized Tulsa Achieves program that has resulted in the admission of more than 10,000 students in seven years without the cost of tuition and fees. The creation of Tulsa Achieves followed the development of another access-related initiative for high school students: Attend College Early (ACE). The ACE program was subsequently adopted statewide by Governor Brad Henry for high school students attending college concurrently in Oklahoma.
Other processes, projects and programs implemented at Tulsa Community College under McKeon’s leadership include:
- a college-wide energy audit that saves the college more than $1 million annually in energy costs;
- the creation and construction of the Metro Campus Center for Creativity designed to embrace rapid changes in curriculum delivery and merge a variety of academic disciplines to prepare students for the digital environment;
- the introduction of the national Achieving the Dream initiative for increasing success rates for students, particularly first-generation college students, which later resulted in a college-wide skills course required for both Tulsa Achieves and developmental students that has significantly boosted grade point averages and retention;
- the addition of TCC Community Campuses in Glenpool and Owasso, both smaller cities adjoining Tulsa, as well as the creation of the TCC Education Outreach Center in east Tulsa, which has become considered a national model for Hispanic and minority education inclusion and outreach;
- the significant growth of assets for the TCC Foundation and funding for the Health Sciences and Biotechnology Learning Center at TCC Southeast Campus and the Nate Waters Physical Therapy Clinic at TCC Metro Campus, designed to serve as a teaching laboratory for students in TCC health sciences programs and as a public physical therapy clinic for underserved and underinsured individuals in the community;
- the introduction of concurrent and dual enrollment classes on high school campuses in and surrounding Tulsa; and
- the establishment of higher education programs in Conner and Turley correctional facilities offering certificate and associate degree curriculum on-site and resulting in significantly reduced recidivism for those offenders who participated and later left the prison.
McKeon’s contributions have also included regional, state and local professional and civic boards of directors including: Oklahoma Complete College America Steering Committee, Governor’s Council on Economic and Workforce Development, Oklahoma Council of Presidents, The Oklahoma Academy, Community Action Project, Tulsa Regional Chamber, and Oklahoma Innovation Institute. Previously, he served as president of the boards of directors for Leadership Tulsa, Oklahoma Council of Presidents, Oklahoma Council of Two-year College Presidents, Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, North Texas Consortium of Community Colleges, and Street School. Other board service includes Bishop Kelley High School, Community Service Council, Leadership Oklahoma, State Chamber, Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Area United Way.
In June 2007, McKeon was inducted into the OSU College of Education Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the Paragon Award from Leadership Tulsa. In 2008 he was named the Tulsan of the Year by Tulsa People Magazine, and in 2012 he was selected as one of five Oklahomans of the Year by Oklahoma Magazine. He was named one of four 2013 Icons for OSU by OSU-Tulsa in recognition of contributions to Oklahoma State University, the city of Tulsa, and the state of Oklahoma. Tulsa People also chose McKeon as one of the “25 Tulsans Who Shaped Our City Over the Last 25 Years.”
McKeon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnical State University and a Master of Science degree and Doctorate from Oklahoma State University.
2013 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award– Dr. Steven G. Gamble, President, Eastern New Mexico University
Dr. Steven Gamble arrived at Eastern New Mexico University in August 2001, moving from the presidency of Southern Arkansas University (1992-2001) and having served previously as vice president for academic affairs (1987-1992) at West Texas A&M University. Throughout his career in higher education, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Texas Tech University, he has been significantly involved in institutional advancement and community outreach, and active in representing higher education in a positive light to the community. But in small, rural Portales, New Mexico, he found a perfect venue for his talents.
The first decade of the 21st century was characterized by dramatic changes in technology, social media, and the demographics of college-bound students and, beginning in 2007, a dramatic economic downturn. Like many states, New Mexico was forced to reduce appropriations to higher education and forgo compensation increases to state employees. Eastern New Mexico University sustained four years of cuts (2008-2011) in state appropriations at the same time that charitable giving was also negatively impacted by economic uncertainties. Despite these challenges, Eastern New Mexico University has enjoyed a decade of unprecedented growth and success. And it is due largely to Gamble’s energy, charisma, and hard work.
Since 2001, under Dr. Gamble’s leadership, Eastern New Mexico University has grown as a campus and as a presence in New Mexico and the region. He has created a campus culture where students know the president, where faculty are not surprised to see him lean into their office doorway to say hello, and where staff are pleased but not surprised when the president knows their names and asks them about their jobs or families. His candor, integrity, and the transparency he brings to university practices and goals have struck a chord with the campus community and with local, state, and regional stakeholders. He has represented the best of higher education’s ability to collaborate with community and educational partners to build a stronger community and university. In an era when public support for higher education is waning badly, public support for Eastern New Mexico University, thanks to Gamble’s leadership, has never been stronger.
The students, faculty, and staff of Eastern New Mexico University take great pride in the recognition of their president, Dr. Steven Gamble, with the 2013 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award.
2012 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award– Dr. Victor J. Boschini Jr., Chancellor, Texas Christian University
“When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally,” observed the sixth-century philosopher Lao-Tzu.
The Texas Christian University community believes that its chancellor of eight years, Dr. Victor J. Boschini Jr., is that type of leader. The philosopher’s words reflect that feeling, according to Tracy Syler-Jones, who was one of several persons nominating the university’s CEO for the CASE District IV top executive leadership award. “As Chancelor Boschini would be the first to note,” said Tracy, “faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and trustees alike share ownership of the university’s achievements. However, it is the chancellor who has engendered a shared vision.”
During the chancellor’s tenure, from the shared vision which grew with his leadership, TCU has marked a number of milestones, including:
- A dozen new facilities (600,000 square feet of additional space) in three years;
- 20,000 applications for 1,600 places in next year’s freshman class, up from 8,600 applications in 2006;
- A student-faculty ration of 13:1, down from 15:1 in 2005;
- A freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 87 percent, up from 82 percent in 2005;
- Ranking among U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 national universities;
- Recognition in 2010 as one of the top 20 U.S. News “Up-and-Coming Universities;
- Addition of 173 new endowed scholarships and doubling of undergraduate financial aid;
- 14 new endowed faculty positions;
- New opportunities for personal and professional growth among faculty and staff, including the Management Institute and a comprehensive wellness program; and
- Contributions of $408 million to The Campaign for TCU, exceeding campaign goals of $250 million and $375 million.
Soon after the chancellor arrived at TCU, he launched a major planning effort, Vision for Action. Approximately 800 faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and students were directly involved. The strategic plan that evolved has been completed, and the vast majority of the objectives which grew from it have been achieved. Throughout the planning process and during its implementation and evaluation, Dr. Boschini insisted to members of each campus constituency: “It’s not my vision – it’s yours.” Vision in Action encouraged innovation and entrepreneurship within the academy, plus financial stewardship.
“Upon arriving at TCU, the chancellor worked with the university community to develop a strategic plan,” said Clarence Scharbauer III, chairman of the TCU board of trustees. “Once the goals of the plan were determined, he worked closely with the board to establish The Campaign for TCU and a series of campaign objectives. One by one, the campaign objectives have become reality and have had a transformative effect on the university.”
He added, “I have served on the board since 1990 and can state unequivocally that the past eight years have brought achievements we could not have dreamed of even 10 years ago. Chancellor Boschini’s leadership has been the key.”
Dr. Dan Williams, chair of TCU’s Faculty Senate and director of the TCU Press,” recalled a project with students that explored effective leadership. “As part of an oral history project for the Honors College and the TCU Press, I taught a couple of workshops on leaderships. The students and I discussed the qualities of a good leader as well as the many current theories of leadership. Inevitably, we concluded that Chancellor Boschini manifests all of the best and most crucial qualities of effective leadership. In particular, he demonstrates the two most vital qualities: vision and the capacity to inspire others.”
TCU’s 10th chancellor has helped raise the visibility of the university nationally and locally. He also has established a “connection culture.” He keeps his fingers on the pulse of the campus by teaching an undergraduate class each fall and transformed the Chancellor’s Scholars Program from one of pure scholarship to a program that includes his personal participation and interaction with participants. Attending summer Frog Camps, Faculty Senate and Staff Assembly meeting, and talking with student government representatives are only of few of the activities he schedules regularly.
The chancellor has strengthened community relationships as well. He serves on the board of directors for the Forth Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Van Cliburn Foundation; he also speaks frequently to community groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and at forums about higher education. He has strongly supported the Berry Street Initiative, working closely with the city of Fort Worth and that neighborhood in an effort that successfully turned an area south of the campus into a model urban village. Las year, TCU and Fort Worth completed more than a year of festivities that celebrated the university and city’s “Century of Partnership,” strengthening that relationship even more.
Dr. Boschini also served as chair of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in 2008-2009; chair of the board of directors for the Mountain West Football Conference in 2008-2009; chair of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas for 2011-2013; and as a member of the American Council on Education’s board of directors for 2011-2014. He manages a budget of more than $400 million dollars and an endowment in excess of $1 billion.
He is a tenured professor in TCU’s College of Education and previously served as president of Illinois State University (and several other positions at that institution); associate provost at Butler University (Indiana); and a number of other administrative posts at other universities. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio; his master’s degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio; and his doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University.
TCU welcomes CASE District IV to Fort Worth this year and celebrates the recognition that its chancellor, Dr. Victor J. Boschini Jr., receives from the district: the 2012 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award.
2011 E. Joseph Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award– Ricardo Romo
Ricardo Romo became the fifth president of The University of Texas at San Antonio in May 1999. He leads one of the fastest growing institutions of higher education in Texas and the nation. Under his leadership, UTSA now is poised to become one of the state’s premier research universities.
Romo has led strategic efforts to enhance both access to education and excellence in scholarship and service at the university.
During Romo’s tenure, USTA’s enrollment has grown nearly 50 percent, and the university has added numerous programs and facilities to enhance student life. He also has implemented new student-support programs designed to help students succeed at earning a university degree. The number of advisers has tripled, and with nearly 29,000 students, UTSA is recognized as a leader in “Closing the Gaps,” a statewide initiative by the Legislature to enroll more Texans in higher education.
A native of San Antonio’s West Side, Romo graduated from Fox Tech High School and attended the University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship. He served as captain of the track and cross-country team and earned All-American honors in 1966. Romo was the first Texan to run the mile in less than four minutes, and his mile record lasted 41 years. He earned a B.S. degree in education.
He holds a master’s degree in history from Loyola Marymount University and a Ph.D. in history from UCLA. A nationally respected urban historian, Romo is the author of “East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio,” now in its ninth printing (including a Spanish edition). In 1980, Romo returned to UT Austin to teach history before becoming vice provost for undergraduate education. In 2002, President Bush appointed him to the President’s Board of Advisers on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In 2004, former Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Romo U.S. representative to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. In 2005, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio branch, and was reappointed in 2007; he currently serves as vice chair. In 2008, Romo received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes Alumni Association.
In 2006, Romo was honored by the UT Austin Friar Society as Outstanding Friar Alumnus. He was elected chairman of the board of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (the largest U.S. Hispanic Chamber organization) for 2006. In 2007, Governor Rick Perry appointed Romo to serve on the Commission for College Ready Texas. He serves on nearly 20 boards, many of them in San Antonio. He is active on several museum boards and is especially proud of his work with United Way.
Romo is married to Harriett Romo, UTSA professor of sociology, director of the UTSA Mexico Center and creator of the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) at UTSA. They have one son, Carlos, who graduated from Stanford University and the University of Texas School of Law. Their daughter, Anadelia, attended Princeton University as an undergraduate, received a doctoral degree from Harvard University and presently teaches at Texas State University.
One of Romo’s most recent honors was the Isabel la Catolica award, the highest award given to non-Spanish subjects, bestowed upon him by King Juan Carlos of Spain.