A Northeastern State University alumnus who served as director of development and executive director of the NSU Foundation for nine years will soon occupy the highest office at Oklahoma Christian University.
Currently Oklahoma Christian’s senior vice president for advancement, John deSteiguer will assume the presidency in June from the retiring Mike O’Neal, who hired deSteigeur in 2002 as part of the incoming administration.
“I have been interested in the presidency of Oklahoma Christian for the past couple of years, and much of that goes back to working for great presidents,” deSteiguer said. “Roger Webb was the reason I attended Northeastern. Don Betz was a great mentor to me and my wife Darla. I later worked for Webb and Larry Williams. I’ve always admired presidents and seeing their strengths and emphases.”
In nine years of overseeing advancement at OCU, the institution has received $110 million in donations, gifts and grants. He served in a similar capacity at NSU from 1993-2002 after a brief foray into the legal profession.
“President Webb offered me the job with the foundation and I talked about it with Darla,” deSteiguer said. “We thought that, perhaps before becoming accustomed to the income, lifestyle and hours of a law career, I might consider leaving it and going back to Tahlequah.”
While NSU director of development, deSteiger raised more than $8.5 million and worked with people he described as devoted and loyal to the university.
“It’s where I learned the importance of narrative and a story in university relations,” he said. “I learned all aspects of fundraising. I was also adviser to the President’s Leadership Class. That helped keep me grounded in connections with the student body. You don’t grow old when you continue to work with college students.”
The son of a naval aviator, deSteiguer moved around the country for much of his childhood. When his father retired in 1976, the family moved to his mother’s hometown of Tahlequah.
While a student at NSU, deSteiguer was named a Harry S. Truman scholar and worked with the Oklahoma Collegiate Legislature.
He said the effect of NSU and Tahlequah on his development was “dramatic.”
“I can’t overstate that attending Northeastern was the best decision I could have made,” he said. “It was where I met my wife and made great friends. And the atmosphere gave me the opportunity to do so many things. I had many influential mentors, including Webb, Betz and Kent Lashley.”
Calling Tahlequah “an idyllic town,” deSteiguer said the city introduced him to his dearest friends. He spoke of living in the Farnsworth home and walking his children to school.
“Darla and I miss the beauty and the history of the area,” he said. “We miss our friends and especially our church friends.”
DeSteiguer attended South College Church of Christ in Tahlequah and today he is a deacon and teaches Bible class at Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond. With faith a cornerstone of his life, he believes he can make the most extensive impact at a Christian university.
“Working for NSU was wonderful in so many ways,” deSteiguer said. “I thought doing similar work for a Christian institution would make a great situation even greater. With an element of faith, Oklahoma Christian has been a special experience for our family.”
NSU named deSteiguer its Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2004 and he will be honored March 8 as an NSU Centurion.
He is a member of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce’s executive committee, the Oklahoma Planned Giving Council, the Edmond Rotary Club and the Oklahoma Bar Association. He lives with his wife and two teenage children in Edmond.
DeSteiguer graduated summa cum laude from NSU in 1984 with a degree in economics. He was a Rotary International Scholarship recipient at the University of Kingston, Jamaica, and earned his juris doctorate magna cum laude from Pepperdine University in 1989.
Published: 3/1/2012 8:32:03 AM