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The Big Day: John deSteiguer inaugurated as president

John deSteiguer is not an OC alumnus. He did not play on the baseball team, perform in Spring Sing, lead business clubs and intramural teams.

He didn’t go to Hardeman Auditorium every day for Chapel as a student.

But that’s okay because he is OC’s biggest fan, and he’s reminded all of us that OC is home.

John has worked at OC for almost 10 years (and quite possibly has attended more Chapels than some of us did as students).

In 2002, he was lured away from Northeastern State University to lead our development team. When it came time to search for a new president upon President Mike O’Neal’s retirement, a thorough search led us home.

John was offered the job in February 2012, took office on May 1, and was inaugurated in a beautiful ceremony on the first day of the fall semester, August 27.

His bold plans for OC have breathed new energy into the campus community.

He wants 3,000 students on campus in five years. He’s calling for more programs, more donors and continued innovation.

It is roll-up-your-sleeves kind of work that is grounded in prayer and petition ... and lots of conversations (and maybe a few ping-pong matches) with us as alumni, because we are the parents, church leaders, grandparents, community activists, business leaders and fellow dreamers.

John also shares his vision in the community – coffee appointments, early-morning TV interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, social media posts, and Chamber of Commerce and Rotary meetings.

It is work that is worthy. OC is home. OC is growing. OC is mission.

Inauguration week helped set the tone of the deSteiguer presidency at OC. Fanfare (a whole lot of fanfare!) without pretense.

John dressed up in his regalia for the installation ceremony, and he wore a suit and tie for some of his appearances.

But he also let his hair down (figuratively speaking) with shorts and sneakers for ping-pong and kickball games with OC’s students.

During a brunch prior to the inaugural ceremony, the university welcomed state dignitaries, community giants and university officials from around the country.

The food spread was impressive, replete with ice sculptures, jumbo shrimp, and chefs standing by for made- to-order omelettes. Yet, John’s placesetting featured his favorite power food – Poptarts and peanut butter.

That nutritional tidbit is telling about our new president. He ate something you’d grab out of your own pantry ... or off the shelf in your dorm room.

Something you’d eat at home.

By Dawn Shelton (90)