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Rose State president passionate about educational opportunities

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Jeanie Webb stands outside the administration building on the campus of Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN]
Jeanie Webb stands outside the administration building on the campus of Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN]

MIDWEST CITY The view from the president’s office at Rose State College is a big dirt hole, and Jeanie Webb couldn’t be happier.

That hole represents a new student union, which is expected to be complete in the fall of 2020 when on-campus housing for an additional 114 students also will open up.

Since assuming the presidency in 2013, Webb — with a vision to enrich the student experience — added student housing (current beds number 182) and soccer to the baseball, softball and swimming collegiate sports programs.

“The goal is for our students to have a university experience at a community college, and student housing and sports help students connect,” Webb said.

The new union, she said, will accommodate traditional and adult students with food and other services. Of its some-8,000 students, the average age is 26.

“Most are ages 18 to 21, but we have a ton of adult students,” Webb said. Many are taking online and night courses.

Current enrollees hail from 70 Oklahoma counties, though 25 percent come from the surrounding Midwest City, Del City and Choctaw areas. For in-district students who come directly from high school, Rose, for a three-year period, waives tuition on up to 63 hours.

Rose State offers an attractive professor-student ratio of 20 to 1, Webb said. Of its 347 employees, 113 are full-time professors.

Webb sat down with The Oklahoman on Monday to talk about her life, including her mother’s ardent encouragement to pursue an education and a career. This is an edited transcript:

Tell us about your roots.

My parents both grew up in Missouri and met in Tulsa. My mom’s parents had a dairy farm in Conway, where I mixed cow milk and played in the cornfields. My other grandfather was a baker in El Dorado Springs. My dad was a barber, and my mom was a data entry key punch operator for OTASCO auto parts and appliance chain. She was the breadwinner. When I was 16, my dad had a stroke, and after that, we lived on one income. I have a younger brother who today serves in the military and is stationed in Germany.

What was your thing in high school?

I was a class officer and active in many clubs. I cheered and played the trumpet. During football games, my mother would meet me at halftime in the bathroom, where I’d change from my cheer outfit to my band uniform. She was a great mom. I never bought any clothes until I was in high school; until then, my mom made them all. My mom urged me to earn a college degree because it was something that could never be taken away from me. As a first-generation college graduate, I’m passionate about giving everybody at least a chance for education and the opportunities my mom didn’t have.

You hold three degrees. Where did you earn them?

I started at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, OK, where I was offered a scholarship to join the pom-pom team. I moved back home a year and half later because my dad had another stroke and was hospitalized. For a semester, until my dad’s condition stabilized, I commuted to Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah and worked at night at OTASCO to help my mom with expenses. Then I moved to Tahlequah to complete my bachelor’s degree in social studies education with concentrations in history, psychology, sociology and geography. With some intersession courses at Rogers State College in Claremore, I finished in three years and, at age 21, was offered a job at NSU teaching psychology and advanced from instructor to associate professor, teaching a variety of courses. Driven and career-oriented, I never stopped learning, and I pressed on to earn back-to-back master and doctorate degrees in education from NSU and OSU.

You worked 16 years at Northeastern State University, largely in administration. What are some of your proudest contributions?

As director of student affairs, I helped start NSU’s weekend college in Tahlequah and build its campus in Muskogee. Lastly, I served three years as dean of NSU’s campus at the former UCAT (University Center at Tulsa), where NSU, OSU, OU and Langston once combined resources to offer courses in downtown Tulsa.

How’d your career at Rose State College progress?

I joined the Rose State family in 1988 as associate vice president of external affairs, where I had an opportunity to help start our theater, among other things. After I was promoted to vice president of student affairs in 2000, I worked to improve our student senate and start our President’s Leadership Class and other leadership programs and student organizations — all in an effort to develop and better connect students. Becoming president of the college really wasn’t a goal of mine. I was recuperating from a broken knee cap, and learning how to walk again. But one of our physical plant administrators implored me, “Won’t you please apply.”

What are your future goals for Rose State?

We plan to expand our cybersecurity, aerospace and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. Along with offering associate degrees to students who plan to transfer to four-year colleges, we offer many applied sciences degrees and certificate programs, including dental hygiene, nursing and criminal justice courses, with which students can enter the workforce immediately. Our cybersecurity graduates, for example, can earn $90,000 annual salaries right out of school. Our goal is to help meet our state’s industry needs and to be the best community college not only in the state, but also across the region.

PERSONALLY SPEAKING

Position: Rose State College, president.

Age: 58.

Grew up in: East Tulsa.

Education: Oklahoma State University, doctorate in higher administration/adult education, and Northeastern State University, master’s in college teaching/personnel services and bachelor’s in social studies education. She completed post-doctoral work at Harvard University and at the University of Oklahoma where she was a Kellogg Fellow.

Family: husband, Roger Webb, president emeritus of the University of Central Oklahoma; daughter Anna Grace, 17 (4 months old when Jeanie and Roger met her on a mission trip to Guatemala; they brought her home 10 months later and literally consider her a gift from God); stepsons Brett Webb of Wichita and Brandon Webb of Yukon; and grandson Lockard, 8, of Wichita.

Neighborhood: Arcadia.

Pets: a Yorkie and Goldendoodle.

Community involvement: A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma, she chairs the executive board of the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges, is active in the Midwest City, Oklahoma City, Choctaw, Del City, Oklahoma State, Black and Hispanic chambers, and serves on the boards of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance and Creative Oklahoma.

Worship: Life.Church.

Pastimes: golf, tennis and snow skiing.

Related Photos
<strong>Jeanie Webb shares a laugh in her office at Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN]</strong>

Jeanie Webb shares a laugh in her office at Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8b57181ecdd152628e78ec46ca9af8a1.jpg" alt="Photo - Jeanie Webb shares a laugh in her office at Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Jeanie Webb shares a laugh in her office at Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Jeanie Webb shares a laugh in her office at Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-03d765b335043daef8d61ca6358a8c26.jpg" alt="Photo - Jeanie Webb is the first person in her family to graduate college and is passionate about giving everybody at least a chance to obtain an education. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Jeanie Webb is the first person in her family to graduate college and is passionate about giving everybody at least a chance to obtain an education. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Jeanie Webb is the first person in her family to graduate college and is passionate about giving everybody at least a chance to obtain an education. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-4a560d6cb0feacc9e4001082b99cd616.jpg" alt="Photo - Jeanie Webb stands outside the administration building on the campus of Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] " title=" Jeanie Webb stands outside the administration building on the campus of Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] "><figcaption> Jeanie Webb stands outside the administration building on the campus of Rose State College. [JIM BECKEL/THE OKLAHOMAN] </figcaption></figure>
Paula Burkes

A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma... Read more ›

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