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Langston University’s New Leader Is Oklahoma’s First Black, Female University President


Dr. JoAnn W. Haysbert was formally installed Saturday as president of Langston University, becoming Oklahoma’s first Black, female university president.

Haysbert succeeded Dr. Ernest L. Holloway, Langston’s 14th president, who served 25 years at the helm of the historically Black college. She was installed one year and two months into her tenure at the university.

“This is not a celebration of one individual,” Haysbert said to several hundred employees, alumni, family, friends and higher education and state government officials. “Rather, it is a celebration of the past, the present and the future of this great institution.”

In Haysbert’s first year, she has led the creation of a 10-year strategic plan, hired several new administrators and promoted “timeless human values,” such as serving others, to students and employees.

She also created an ambassadors program in which upperclassmen take a leadership class taught by her and serve as role models to freshmen.

Langston’s previous presidents brought the university to excellence, she said, and her goal is to bring it to greatness.

Gov. Brad Henry says Haysbert has a reputation “for working boldly and collaboratively towards the highest of standards.”

Four mayors of nearby towns and a representative of the mayor of Langston commended her leadership and offered their support, as did representatives of university students, faculty, staff and administration.

“I feel honored to call her my president,” said student government president Aaron Jones. “We’ve all felt the electricity pulsating in the atmosphere ever since her entrance one year ago.”

Haysbert came to Oklahoma from Hampton University, also a historically Black college, in Virginia. At Saturday’s ceremony, her former president, Dr. William R. Harvey, attributed Hampton’s success in part to Haysbert, with a vision, a “terrific work ethic” and trustworthiness.

“Leadership is the ability to inspire other people to work together to achieve a common goal,” Harvey said. He encouraged the Langston community to rely on Haysbert’s ability to know how to approach a goal, solve a problem and pull the right people together to get a job done.

— Associated Press


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