Dr. Randy O’Rear is president of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and he answers questions about the challenges and rewards he experiences on the job.
Dr. Randy O’Rear, EdD ’04, is the 22nd president of Mary Hardin-Baylor University. His career at UMHB has spanned more than 25 years, including leadership roles in fundraising, enrollment management, external relations and operational management. He earned bachelor’s and MBA degrees at UMHB.
What are the greatest challenges faced by a college president in today’s higher education environment?
The greatest challenge is to maintain the affordability of a college degree. We must continuously work to keep costs down while providing the resources for a high-quality education and funding scholarships for students who otherwise could not afford to attend. Securing resources for needed facilities is also a challenge.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
I enjoy getting to know the students and watching the growth in their lives; the years that they are with us are a time of significant transition for most of them. I also enjoy the opportunities to work with our leadership team, making decisions that can make a positive impact on our campus and the environment we provide for our students.
What’s new and exciting at UMHB?
Thanks to our visionary board of trustees, our great administrative team and generous alumni and friends, we have completed our new Campus Master Plan in a short length of time. More than $130 million has been invested in our physical campus since February 2011 to create first-class academic facilities for the art, nursing and physical therapy programs and to enhance campus life with a new student union/stadium complex and a center for student support services.
Construction is underway on the final project of the plan, a performing arts center, which will open in 2017. We are also excited about efforts to bring innovative academic programs to UMHB, which will provide new avenues for students to earn degrees.
How did the doctoral program in the Baylor School of Education prepare you for leadership in higher education?
Working with the outstanding faculty members and my fellow classmates was a blessing. I gained great insights from faculty and students alike about leadership and how to run an institution successfully. Dr. Robert Cloud and Dr. Mark Bateman stand out as two members of the faculty who made a tremendous investment in me. I’ll always be grateful for their mentorship and wisdom.
UMHB has several leaders who graduated from Baylor School of Education’s EdD programs. Is there a reason behind that connection?
I believe all of us saw the Baylor program as a unique opportunity to continue our full-time employment while advancing our education in a high-quality doctoral program. Dr. Steve Theodore and Dr. Cliffa Foster were already part of the Mary Hardin-Baylor family when they went through the program, and we got Dr. Paula Tanner and Dr. Marlene Zipperlen here as fast as we could!