DURANT, Okla. -- A year has passed since Dr. Glen Johnson stepped down as president Of Southeastern Oklahoma State University to become chancellor of the state’s Higher Education System. After months of searching and anticipation, the torch has been passed to Dr. Michael Turner, who says Southeastern is ready to take big steps in the next couple of years.
Dr. Turner knew he would be welcomed with open arms when he arrived in Durant with his family a couple of months ago and he says it’s that support from the city and university that will help both become better than they've ever been.
With close to 4,500 students, Southeastern Oklahoma State University continues to be a destination for higher education for many in the area, and both administrators and students wanted to make sure their new president was able to live up to the standards they hold dear.
"I was looking for someone out there to interact with the students and he’s done that so far, and I’ve already met him," SOSU senior Tara Davis says.
"Running a university like this is a business as well so we needed somebody with business smarts," SOSU junior Adam Lovell says.
The man selected for the job was Dr. Michael Turner, who knows he has a lot to live up to.
"I had enormous respect for Southeastern regarding the people, and I think that’s probably one of the more significant values Southeastern as an institution has," Dr. Turner says.
The former vice president of student affairs at Rogers State University in Claremore, Dr. Turner says one of the keys to running a university is maintaining the level of academic excellence. In order to do that, retaining good faculty and staff through financial endowments is necessary.
"I want to increase that even more so we can and recruit more high-quality faculty so we can offer more scholarships for students," Turner says.
Another important issue for Dr. Turner is strengthening the university's infrastructure, making it more appealing for students to come and stay on campus.
That’s an idea which Adam Lovell says is important to him.
"Even though you might live in Durant and you don’t have to be on campus all the time, you still want to and that’s really an important thing," Lovell says.
Dr. Turner says he would also like to improve the university's online services to provide more opportunities for students outside of Durant and continue the relationship with the city he says has treated him and his family like their own.
"We are all partners and southeastern is definitely one of our most viable partners in this community and will continue to be," Durant Chamber of Commerce president Janet Reed says.
"Fortunately, the city of Durant supports this university without an exception, and they believe in the future of this university, and they want to support the future of this university."
In addition to his work at Rogers State, Dr. Turner spent some time at Northeastern State University and served eight years in the United States Marine Corps.