Katricia Pierson was inaugurated as East Central University’s ninth president Friday, among a crowd of faculty, staff, alumni, students and visitors — the first woman to hold the position in the university’s 108-year history.
Pierson, heralded as relatable by students owing largely to her personal story — she earned her degrees as a single parent receiving public assistance — has worked diligently to bring students, faculty and staff into the financial decision-making process as the university navigates an era of diminishing state appropriations and increasing political hostility. That effort has garnered her near-universal support on campus and a reputation as a consensus builder.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby congratulated Pierson on her accomplishment and pledged the “full and continued commitment of the Chickasaw Nation” to what he described as a “productive and lasting partnership” with ECU.
Choctaw Nation Executive Officer of Member Services Stacy Shepherd noted that Pierson is a member of the Choctaw Nation and congratulated her on her success, saying Pierson was “making history.”
“The Choctaw Nation is extremely proud of you and we are going to stand beside you” Shepherd said.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson described Pierson as part of a “growing group of extraordinary women in (Oklahoma).”
Regional University System of Oklahoma Regent Connie Reilly told Pierson she was “so glad” she had taken the job as president, and said she believed Pierson had the “vigor and heart to champion higher education at ECU and throughout the state.”
Faculty and staff representatives offered Pierson their congratulations, followed by heartfelt and rousing remarks from Student Senate President Gavin Burl.
Burl mentioned Pierson’s struggle to obtain her degrees, citing her story as something he and other students could relate to as they work toward earning their degrees. His comments evoked an imagery of authenticity and depicted Pierson as someone with a real-world understanding of the obstacles today’s students face. He said students trust Pierson.
Pierson thanked her family and mentors for their support and guidance and said her work at ECU has been the most satisfying of her career, thus far.
See Wednesday’s edition of The Ada News for more in-depth coverage of Pierson’s Inauguration.