ESU President Allison Garrett comments on upcoming departure

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Outgoing ESU President Allison Garrett. KVOE News Photo File

Emporia State University has announced a major change to come in terms of leadership.

In a press release from the university on Friday, ESU announced that President Allison Garrett was stepping down to take a new position as the Ninth Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the Oklahoma State Higher Education System. Garrett will be responsible for leading the Oklahoma state system of 25 state colleges and universities, 11 constituent bodies, an academic center, and independent colleges and universities coordinated with the state system.

Garrett calls this opportunity a chance to lead system-level education. In doing so, she is proud of Emporia State’s trajectory.


Garrett followed Michael Shonrock as ESU 17th President in 2016. Since joining ESU, the university has set several all-time records as part of a list of significant accomplishments, including:

* Highest retention rates ever recorded
* Highest ever percentage of four- and six-year graduation rate
* The largest graduating classes ever recorded
* The highest number of registrations for graduate studies in university history
* Best fundraising year ever and four of the five best in ESU history
* New higher US rankings, including being the only public university in Kansas to feature in the top 100 for social mobility, a measure of the graduation success of Pell-eligible students
* Lowest student debt of any Regents public institution in Kansas for five consecutive years
* 96% (four-year average) of career outcomes for ESU graduates

His proudest moment? See the number of graduates increase.

ESU also made several significant improvements to the campus, including the construction of the Schallenkamp Hall, the renovation of the Abigail Morse Hall, the construction of the Prophet Aquatic Research and Outreach Center and the construction of the Kossover Tennis Complex.

Hours after Friday’s announcement, Emporia Mayor Rob Gilligan spoke to KVOE News and said Garrett had made the most of his five years at the institution.

Prior to coming to Emporia State, Garrett was executive vice president of admissions, student life, financial services and other operations at Christian University of Abilene. She has also served as senior vice president at Oklahoma Christian University, associate professor of law at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, vice president and general counsel for Walmart, and attorney at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Garrett and her husband, Chip, have been heavily involved in the community. Allison Garrett sits on the United Way of Flint Hills Board of Directors and is Vice Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and Chair of the Division II Board of Presidents. She resigned from both positions on October 15, her last day at ESU. Chip Garrett sits on the Planning Commission for the Emporia-Lyon Metropolitan Region and on the Board of Directors of SOS.

The Kansas Board of Directors will announce an interim president for ESU along with next steps in the coming weeks. Regents President Cheryl Harrison-Lee thanked Garrett for his service to ESU, saying the university’s recent trend to set records for success “is a testament to its strategic and visionary leadership.” The board of directors chose Jackie Vietti as interim president of Emporia State, bridging the gap between the Shonrock and Garrett administrations. He chose Ed Flentje to run the university between Shonrock and his predecessor, Michael Lane.

Click below for the full press conference.

KVOE News Director Chuck Samples contributed to this report.

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