After months as an interim leader, Peggy Maher, the former director of the NASA Aerospace Education Services Project, will officially take over as the University Center of Southern Oklahoma’s official president and CEO.
The UCSO board of trustees made the decision official at a meeting held Wednesday afternoon. A search committee comprised of board members Rita Ponder, Cynthia Jordan and Thomas Worsham whittled down the list of applicants, eventually deciding Maher was the right choice.
“After our extensive search, we’ve reviewed several applications and it took several meetings to get through them all,” Jordan said during the meeting. “But our committee has agreed unanimously to hire Peggy Maher.”
As interim president, Maher oversaw UCSO’s developing partnership with Langston University, the departure of East Central University, and the start of plans to build walking trails around the campus. She said she couldn’t help starting new projects.
“When I first started, I was holding back and saying “well, I don’t know how long I’ll be here,’” Maher said. “I just quickly found out I couldn’t work that way. We were in a transitional state, and we still are.”
Ponder said the other 18 candidates from around the country were highly qualified as well, and the process took a significant amount of time.
“She’s worked so hard for the University Center and therefore has made it very easy, really, for us to choose her,” Ponder said. “She’s so good, we had to give her an opportunity.”
Jordan said they were looking for someone with a master’s degree in education and leadership skills, but also someone with a sense of direction for the center.
“We were looking for someone with a vision for the University Center, because there are just so many opportunities,” Jordan said. “We want to be able to offer Master’s programs, and work together with three partners, and hopefully more.”
Maher said while the University Center has gone through drastic changes in the last year, there are still more to come. She said she and the board are making plans to start a capital campaign to raise money to build a second, smaller building close to the center’s main location on Mt. Washington Street.
“We’re still in the back of the Ardmore City Schools admin building because we can’t fit all the classes in here,” Maher said. “Our parking is already tight.”
She said she and the board are considering offering extra services on campus to draw in more prospective students and make attending class easier. She said they’re still discussing what services would be most useful and feasible.