By all accounts, it was a stellar cast of presidential hopefuls who made it to East Central University’s “Final Four” candidate search to replace the departing Dr. Bill Cole. Each has superb credentials and a solid history of business and/or educational success. Unquestionably, any one of the four would have been a great choice to lead the university into its next era.

According to his resume, Duke R. Ligon, general council and senior vice president of Devon Energy Corporation, at one time worked in the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Treasury as well as the Department of Energy.

Donnie Nero is currently president of Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma with campuses in Muskogee. Prior to that he served as provost of Tulsa Community College – Southeast Campus.

Claudia A Lambert is currently president of Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. Previously she was campus executive officer at Pennsylvania State University, DuBois campus.

Among this impressive line up, Richard Rafes was chosen. He is currently senior vice president for administration at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree in government at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He earned his doctor of jurisprudence degree at the University of Houston, and his doctor of philosophy degree in higher education administration at University of North Texas. His honors and awards are too numerous to mention.

Suffice it to say, Oklahoma Regents forged an excellent selection process that was careful to include members of the community. Regent Mickey Thompson and the entire Board of Oklahoma Regents are to be commended for the coordinating a superb process in finding Dr. Bill Cole’s successor.