Patricia Okker announced dean of College of Arts and Science

Okker has served as the interim dean of the College of Arts of Science since August 2016.

Pat Okker was recently appointed dean of the College of Arts and Science. Courtesy of MU College of Arts and Science

After months of searching and deliberation, MU Provost Garnett Stokes appointed Patricia Okker as the new dean of the College of Arts and Science, effective as of Nov. 21, according to an MU News Bureau press release.

Coming from the position as the interim dean of the College of Arts and Science, Okker already has experience as dean, including being an active part of creating the first new school within the College of Arts and Science in the last 30 to 40 years.

“[Okker] has served as interim dean of the College of Arts and Science since August 2016,” according to the press release. “During that time, she launched a career-readiness program for A&S students and oversaw the creation of the School of Visual Studies and approval of the School of Music new building project.”

Her past experience makes the transition a smooth one for the college, John Walker, the co-chair of the hiring committee for the dean said.

“She’s been [the interim dean] for about 18 months and she knows all of the ropes, so there’s really going to be a very seamless transition from interim to official, full-time dean,” Walker said. “There’s not going to be a learning curve, not anymore than she would learn on a daily basis, anyway.”

Before serving as the interim dean, Okker was the chair of the English department and senior associate provost.

Okker was named a William T. Kemper fellow in 2003 and awarded a Faculty-Alumni Award in 2013.

“I feel as if she will bring forth change that may not be visible for someone who is facing the university for the first time,” freshman biology major DeMario Malone said. “She knows what are the strong points for the College of Arts and Science as well as what has been weaker areas, and she will build heavily on the weaker points and reinforce our strengths.”

To select the new dean, a search committee, chaired by Walker and Kathryn Chval, the dean of the College of Education, was formed to screen the applications.

After reviewing the applications, the search committee invited 12 applicants for airport interviews. Then, four candidates were invited for on-campus interviews.

Of the four final candidates for the position of dean, Okker was the only one from MU.

The other candidates were Nancy Goroff, a chemistry department chair and professor at Stony Brook University, Jeffrey Roberts, a chemistry professor at Purdue University, and Marion Underwood, the dean of graduate studies and associate provost at The University of Texas at Dallas.

As a women’s and gender studies writer, editor and professor, Okker also stands as a leader for MU women.

“I am very pleased with the university's choice of the new dean of Arts and Science,” freshman communications major Taylor Bourland said. “I think that the selection of Dr. Okker for the dean of Arts and Science was a very wise choice by the university, as she is an outstanding role model for women here at Mizzou and will hopefully bring many great things to the college as a whole.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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