May 11, 2009

Investiture Held for Dr. Larry Rice as 14th President of RSU

Dr. Larry Rice was invested as the 14th president of Rogers State University during the RSU Baccalaureate Commencement and Investiture Ceremony on Sunday at the Claremore Expo Center.

The Investiture – a traditional academic ceremony officially commemorating the beginning of the tenure of a new president – was an integral part of the commencement ceremony.

Dr. Richard Beck, RSU vice president for academic affairs, welcomed students, guests and participants at the Investiture and 97th Commencement Ceremony.

Regent Julie Carson of Claremore offered greetings on behalf of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

"President Rice, I speak today for the State Regents. But I also speak as a resident of Claremore. Welcome back home to Rogers State University," Carson said. "We missed you while you were away. We look forward to many years of working together to provide the highest quality education possible to the residents of northeast Oklahoma."

A bronze medallion – the official symbol of the office of the president – was presented to Dr. Rice by Regent A. Max Weitzenhoffer, chairman of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governing board for RSU. Chairman Weitzenhoffer also provided greetings during the ceremony.

In addition, Regent Tom Clark and Regent Jon Stuart, both of Tulsa, and members of the OU Board of Regents, participated in the event.

Dr. Glen D. Johnson, Chancellor of the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education, provided the formal charge of office to Dr. Rice as the new president.

Salutations were provided by representatives of the university's student body, faculty, alumni and past presidents. Kaleb Woolever of Claremore, representing the RSU President's Leadership Class, offered a salutation on behalf of the RSU student body. Scott Walton, a 1999 RSU graduate, provided greetings to the president on behalf of the institution's alumni. Walton serves as sheriff of Rogers County.

"On behalf of the proud alumni of the Oklahoma Military Academy, Claremore Junior College, Rogers State College, and Rogers State University, I would like to welcome you back home to College Hill," Sheriff Walton told President Rice.

Dr. Paul Hatley, history professor and chairman of the RSU Faculty Senate, delivered a salutation on behalf of the university's faculty.

President Emeritus Dr. Richard Mosier, who was president of Claremore Junior College and Rogers State College from 1972 to 1995, also provided a salutation to the new president.

"President Rice, in your first year here, you've stated that you envision Rogers State University becoming the state's leading regional university. With all due respect to the other college presidents in this room, I think that's a goal within reach," Dr. Mosier said. "It will require bold leadership and hard work, but Dr. Rice, I believe you are well-positioned to lead us there."

Other university presidents in attendance included Dr. Michael Turner, formerly of Claremore, who now serves as president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, and Dr. Noble Jobe III, president of Murray State University in Tishomingo, Okla.

Dr. Rice, who became president of RSU on July 1, 2008, provided the Investiture and Commencement address to graduates during the baccalaureate commencement ceremony.

"I formally accept your charge to me as president, with all of its responsibilities, and I stand humbled by this investiture ceremony. I pledge to do my best to provide steady guidance and strong leadership for this great institution in the years to come," he told an audience of more than 2,000 graduates, families, friends, state higher education officials and area dignitaries in the Expo Center.

"While the investiture of a university president is an historic occasion, there is another one that is even more significant in the life of a university. That is the conferring of degrees at commencement," Rice told graduates. "You are receiving your diplomas during a very special time in the university's history. This is our Centennial year. You will be able to look back and recall that you graduated during the university's 100th anniversary."

The Chouteau High School Choir and RSU Choir performed jointly during the ceremony.

A commencement ceremony for graduates receiving associate degrees was held earlier in the day at the Expo Center, featuring remarks by President Rice and Reflections provided to the graduates by Leon Hershberger, current president of the RSU Alumni Association who graduated from RSU in 2005.

An Oklahoma native, President Rice has 30 years of experience in higher education. He began his academic career in 1979 as a full-time faculty member at RSU, which was then known as Claremore Junior College, where he taught classes in criminal justice, psychology and sociology. He was Director of the Applied Science Division at CJC from 1979 to 1986 and Associate Director of Academics for the Rogers campus in Pryor from 1986 to 1991.

He received a doctoral degree in education from Oklahoma State University, and master's and bachelor's degrees from Northeastern State University. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on "Eighty Years of University Preparatory Education on College Hill," a history of the institution presently known as RSU.

Before he was named as president of RSU, he served as Executive Assistant to the President at the University of Tulsa.

He served the citizens of Oklahoma as a state representative in House District 8 from 1986 to 2004.

Dr. Rice and his wife, First Lady Peggy Rice, live in the President's Residence on the RSU campus.