NOC narrows selection for new president

May 08, 2024

NOC regents have selected three finalists for the president’s position

With plans to announce its new president in May, the Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents named its three finalists for the position on Wednesday, April 25, following an executive session during their regularly scheduled regents meeting.

“After narrowing down the strong national pool of applicants in a previous board meeting, the Board of Regents, serving at the presidential search committee, interviewed five highly qualified candidates during this first-round,” Chairman Brad Fox, said in a news release. “The Regents are happy to announce the top three finalists who will move forward in the second-round interviews.”

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are Dr. Trevor C. Lane, State Specialist and Associate Professor at Washington State University; Ms. Diana Watkins, Interim President and Chief Academic Officer at Northern Oklahoma College; and Dr. Patrick Wilson, Executive Director of Online & Extended Learning at New Mexico Highlands University.

Dr. Trevor C. Lane is an Oklahoma native with 23 years of experience in public higher learning at a tier one community college and research university in multi-campus environments with experience in accessibility, affordability, and student-centric learning. He received a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California, a Masters of Science (MS) from Oklahoma State University, and a Bachelor’s of Art (BA) from Drake University.

As a State Specialist and Associate Professor, he has achieved more than $10.8M in grants, contracts, and extra-mural funding. At Tulsa Community College (TCC) he had a long-standing history over 10 years of success with strategic enrollment management under Dr. Dean VanTrease and Dr. Ric Baser for First Time, Full-Time entering freshman through programs like Tulsa Achieves or Attend College Early (ACE) and serving historically underrepresented populations in a multi-campus environment.

Dr. Lane is a veteran, 4-H and Eagle scout leader, social scientist, and CITI certified researcher with supplemental certifications in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analysis. He is a published subject matter expert working at an R1 Carnegie Institute. With national, state, and regional recognition, he is an award-winning state specialist in Community & Economic Development with 10 years of service at Washington State University (WSU), an international institution of higher learning, in Cooperative Extension with the College of Agriculture, Human, & Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

Dr. Lane’s leadership links citizen science with action research leveraging the best available knowledge to solve complex economic, environmental, and social problems in tribal and rural communities. He is a subject matter expert in agritourism, technology transfer, and small business ecosystems as evidenced in his scholarship and credit or non-credit programs leading to high levels of student engagement or transformative student experiences. Dr. Lane is also working internationally and nationally on “food is medicine” and farm-to-table initiatives to improve food security and poverty.

Ms. Diana Watkins currently serves as the Interim President and Chief Academic Officer for Northern Oklahoma College. A proud graduate of Perry High School, she went on to earn an Honors Program Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary English Education at Oklahoma State University where she also earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching Learning and Leadership and is currently a doctoral student in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Watkins began her career in education teaching high school English in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Her move to post-secondary education came in 2000 when she joined the Oklahoma State University Honors Program, now Honors College, as an academic counselor before spending four years as an “early childhood educator,” taking on the role of full-time mom until her daughter began pre-K.

Watkins’s tenure at NOC began in the Language Arts Department on the Stillwater campus. In 2007 she was named the Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Member for NOC Stillwater. After joining the Language Arts Department full-time in 2007, she was named the Distinguished Faculty Member for NOC Stillwater in 2009. In 2019 she took on the role of Vice President for the Stillwater campus, heading up the NOC/OSU Gateway Program. Extremely passionate about student success, Watkins served on the task force that developed NOC’s First Gen Mentor Program, a program designed to assist students who are the first in their families to attend college. She has presented at numerous conferences, including the National Association of Developmental Education Conference and the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. Watkins was recently appointed by Chancellor Allison Garrett to the State Regents’ Campus Safety & Security Task Force.

A graduate of Leadership Stillwater Class XXVIII, Watkins served on the Stillwater Public Education Foundation Board of Trustees, and is a member of the Friends of the Honors College at OSU.

Watkins enjoys practicing yoga, running, reading, writing, and attending concerts and theatre performances. Her daughter, Emma, an NOC alumni and recent graduate of Mounty Holyoke College, works as a visitor services associate at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Dr. Patrick Wilson is a seasoned academic leader and innovator with a robust background in higher education and business. Holding a Doctorate in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University, an MBA with Honors in Finance and Accounting from Regis University, and a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Finance and Economics from Christian Brothers University, Dr. Wilson brings a wealth of expertise to the table.

Currently serving as the Executive Director of Online & Extended Learning at New Mexico Highlands University, Dr. Wilson has been instrumental in establishing and expanding new online degree programs. Over the past five years, he has overseen the successful launch of six fully online programs, accounting for 15 percent of the university’s total enrollment. Noteworthy achievements include negotiating a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement for distance education and supervising four campuses with associated staff.

Prior to his role at NMHU, Dr. Wilson held key leadership positions, including Associate Vice President at Tennessee Technological University and Associate Vice Chancellor at TN eCampus. At TTU, they doubled revenue for online programs in just three years, while at TN eCampus, they managed a team of 35 professionals, overseeing a collaboration of 19 academic institutions and an annual budget of $56 million.

Beyond his administrative roles, Dr. Wilson has actively contributed to national professional organizations in higher education such as the NC-SARA Institution Advisory Committee and served on the Finance Committee for UPCEA. He has also presented at national conferences like the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Annual Conference.

With a track record of securing grants from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Wilson has demonstrated a keen ability to drive innovation and change within the education sector.

In addition to their leadership roles, Dr. Wilson has served as an educator, teaching a diverse array of courses at institutions such as Regis University and the Community College of Denver.

Driven by a commitment to excellence and a passion for accessible and transformative education, Dr. Wilson continues to make significant contributions to shaping the future of higher education.

The NOC Board of Regents will conduct in-person interviews with the finalists during an executive session at a May 15 special board meeting on the NOC Tonkawa campus. Finalists will also have an opportunity to tour each campus location that day. The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Wednesday, May 22 at 2 p.m. on the NOC Enid campus. The Board plans on announcing the next President for Northern Oklahoma College following an executive session that day.