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Business & Nursing Transitions: Two Deans to Change Roles - 2021

by David Klaassen

Woman in red and black and man in suit
Photos by Josh Robinson

Two longtime members of the Oklahoma City University family will transition to dean emeritus status July 1. Dr. Steven C. Agee, who has served as dean of the Meinders School of Business for 11 years, and Dr. Lois Salmeron, who has served as dean of the Kramer School of Nursing since 2014 after joining the faculty in 2005, have both agreed to remain at OCU as faculty members.

Dean Agee: A Fundraising Powerhouse Who Raised the School’s Profile

Agee has served more consecutive years as dean of the Meinders School of Business than any other individual in the school’s history. He successfully guided the business school through its initial accreditation process of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, International in 2014 and its reaccreditation in 2019. AACSB is considered the gold standard of business accrediting bodies for schools that grant business degrees.

“During Dean Agee’s tenure, he has raised the profile of our business school around the world,” OCU President Martha Burger said. “We will miss his leadership as dean but look forward to his continued involvement in our campus community.”

Agee founded and initially funded the Economic Research & Policy Institute within the business school. The Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute is comprised of three centers: the Center for Regional Economic Forecasting & Policy Analysis; the Ronnie K. Irani Center for Data Analytics; and the Center for Native American & Urban Studies. This research institute provides resources including sales tax forecasting for the cities of Oklahoma City and Norman and all economic impact studies for the Native American tribes in Oklahoma.

Several new academic and certificate programs were developed under Agee’s leadership, including two graduate-level energy programs: one in energy management and the other in energy law. Nearly 400 students have graduated from the energy programs since they were launched in 2012.

Agee was also involved in starting the new MBA in Healthcare, as well as the master certificates in healthcare and in fraud and forensic accounting. In collaboration with the Chickasaw Nation, Agee developed the Native American Enterprise Management Certificate Program, designed to provide business education to members of Oklahoma tribes who have developed substantial business models around gaming, hospitality, and healthcare.

Agee has worked tirelessly to raise significant funding for student scholarships, technology improvements, 12 Bloomberg terminals, and an endowment for an instructional designer for business school faculty. He has served on many university committees, including the budget committee, benefits committee, Deans Council, Academic Council, and the OCU strategic planning committee.

“Through Dean Agee’s steady leadership, the business school has grown and prospered in so many ways, including academically and financially,” said Herman Meinders, the school’s namesake. “His legacy will be felt for generations to come.”

This fall, Meinders established a business leadership scholarship in Dean Agee’s honor with a $500,000 gift he hopes will be matched by the community.

Aside from his OCU roles, Agee has a long and established career in the oil and gas industry. He is founder, president, and COO of Agee Energy LLC, a private oil and natural gas company headquartered in downtown Oklahoma City.

Agee joined the Oklahoma City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 2006. His community involvement has included board memberships with the Economic Club of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Philharmonic Society, and Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time as dean?

Our AACSB, International accreditation. The AACSB designation places the Meinders School of Business in the top 4.5% of all business schools that grant degrees in business globally. Having AACSB accreditation also allows us to be considered for ranking in U.S. News & World Report, and our two graduate energy programs have been highly ranked by U.S. News for the past seven years — ever since our initial accreditation.

I am also very proud of the fundraising efforts we have completed over the past 11 years, raising millions of dollars for the business school in the form of scholarship endowments, endowed positions for faculty and staff (such as the $1 million endowment from Tan Sri Dr. Lim Wee Chai), and financial support for new executive classrooms, the Economic Research & Policy Institute, and our Bloomberg lab center.

I am very proud of the faculty and staff we have assembled in the business school. They are all high-quality, participating members of Meinders and are certainly one big reason we were accredited by AACSB.

What has been your most rewarding experience as dean?

It was very rewarding to achieve AACSB, International accreditation and to attend annual deans’ conferences with hundreds of business school deans from all over the world. But I think my most rewarding experience is the contact I have with our students, both undergraduate and graduate. It is a delight to see them arrive on campus, work their way through their respective programs, then graduate to take on the world. I have been able to assist, direct, and mentor many students personally and watch their careers take off, and that is an extremely rewarding experience.

Any other reflections on your time so far at OCU that you’d like to share?

I have had the honor and benefit to meet and work with other OCU deans, members of the university cabinet, and other faculty and staff with other OCU schools and colleges. These have been meaningful and impactful components of my career here at OCU, and I have learned a lot from my colleagues. Probably my most important reflection is the mentoring and friendship I have received from Herman Meinders and Mo Grotjohn. Herman is the kindest, most caring, and philanthropic man I know. Mo Grotjohn is Herman’s most trusted advisor and financial analyst, and Mo helped me accomplish several material projects during my tenure as dean. Simply put, I have been blessed to be surrounded by so many individuals who care for and love this university and who also happen to be the very best at what they do. I have been honored to fill the role as dean of MSB these past 11 years and now look forward to assisting the next dean, president, and provost in whatever capacity they deem fitting.

Dean Salmeron: A Pioneer in Nursing Education and ‘The Kramer Way’

Dr. Lois Salmeron was part of the OCU faculty group that designed and developed the university’s original doctoral nursing programs in the Kramer School of Nursing. The Ph.D. in Nursing was the first doctoral program at OCU. The Doctor of Nursing Practice at OCU was the first of its kind in Oklahoma.

Salmeron was instrumental in pioneering a partnership between OCU and Duncan Regional Hospital. With this partnership, OCU implemented an additional location to offer traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing courses in a rural community. More recently, she has supported the development of Community-Based Public Health education tracks in the Master of Science in Nursing and DNP programs.

“More than any person I’ve met, Dr. Salmeron embodies the Kramer Way — the core values of caring, kindness, and respect,” said OCU President Martha Burger. “Her impact on our nursing program is immense, and equally strong is the impact she’s had in nursing education in our community and state. Her leadership has increased access to quality nursing programs across Oklahoma.”

During her 58-year nursing career, Salmeron has received numerous awards and honors, including an induction into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame — one of only two nurses to receive this high honor. The Hall of Fame recognized her achievement of creating the first distance-education nursing program in Oklahoma, which was instrumental in supplying registered nurses to the state’s rural population. Additionally, she was named Nurse of the Year by the Oklahoma State Nurses Association as well as the Nurses’ Association of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She received the Distinguished Professional Service Award from the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Salmeron was also named a National League of Nursing Fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education.

“Dr. Salmeron’s career encompasses a stellar sequence of nursing positions, boards, committees, work groups, and partnerships, which have created enormous opportunities for her to make an extraordinary and lasting impact on nursing education, nursing practice, community service, public health, and philanthropy,” said Dr. Patrick McGough, executive director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. “She epitomizes service, leadership, professionalism, and kindness in all spheres of her influence, from family and friends to state and national advocacy efforts. Due to her leadership, we will have an advanced and stronger workforce, well-equipped to serve the community and improve overall state and national health rankings.”

Salmeron is a charter member of NAACOG and a lifetime member of AWHONN. Additionally, she holds memberships in the American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She has also served as an officer in these organizations at the state and national levels.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time as dean?

I am very proud to have participated in the development of nursing programs at baccalaureate, master’s, and graduate levels at KSN. These programs address the healthcare needs of Oklahoma and meet the health care needs of many citizens of many ages. Personally, I feel respected by my OCU colleagues and KSN faculty; for that I am thankful.

What has been your most rewarding experience as dean?

To have participated and guided the faculty in the success of so many students, seeking the various educational opportunities that KSN has to offer. To listen to the alumni praise the programs, praise and thank the dedicated faculty, praise the culture that we all strive to embrace: the culture, determined by faculty and staff working together, and defined as “The Kramer Way.” The priority values of this culture are caring, kindness, and respect. Living these values is what nurses aspire to do.<\/p>\r\n

Any other reflections on your time so far at OCU that you’d like to share?

I have dedicated the majority of my life to nursing practice, nursing education, and nursing scholarship. I have enjoyed many successes, been honored with many awards, been recognized locally and nationally for my contributions, all of which were never in my plan and never sought. I could only accomplish all of this because of the support of my husband and children, who understood my dedication to the nursing profession and my willingness and need to continue to practice nursing in the paths that I pursued. OCU provided me with the opportunities to expand the contributions that I had done in my career prior to becoming a KSN faculty team member. For that, I am grateful.

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