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Jo Lynn Digranes

Coordinator for Assessment

Academic Affairs, Administration Building 2nd Floor
At OKCU since 2012

Jo Lynn Digranes retired once, but it didn’t suit her. That was about six years ago.

She rattles off her career steps, the committees she’s served on, and the degrees she’s earned. The list is extensive, but she isn’t finished yet. “Right now, I’m still enjoying work,” she said. 

Jo Lynn is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is part Cherokee and Chickasaw. She grew up in Wetumka, about 85 miles west of Oklahoma City. Her father was an Autry, related to Gene, of rodeo, music, and TV fame starting in the 1930s. Jo Lynn, of course, met Gene Autry, his horse, and his cohorts, including Smiley Burnette. Her father performed in Gene Autry’s rodeo troupe. The Autrys lived in the country, and Jo Lynn grew up hauling hay and feeding horses. She enjoyed that time, when nobody locked their doors. 

She earned a bachelor’s in sociology from OSU, along with a teaching endorsement in social sciences; a master’s in student personnel and guidance for higher education from OSU; and a Ph.D. in instructional technology from OU. She learned how to incorporate technology into education in the 1980s as that practice was just beginning. She liked how technology broadened her perspective. 

She has taught at colleges and universities, served as a Native American program counselor and supervisor, taught graduate-level education at the University of Tulsa as a visiting assistant professor, taught computers to Indian high-schoolers through weekend workshops and summer camps, taught computer classes at a community college, and moved into administration. She spent 21 years at Connors State College, at the branch in Muskogee and then on the main campus in Warner, retiring there as executive vice president. 

“It wasn’t, perhaps, what you would call a straight route,” she said, “because I worked not only in higher ed but in other educational venues. It gave me a broad perspective.” 

Since the 1990s, Jo Lynn has served as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission, the accrediting body for colleges in 19 states. She estimated she has visited more than 40 institutions, including tribal and community colleges; universities; public, private, and private for-profit; and faith-based. Because of her background in tribal education, she has visited or reviewed most of the tribal colleges in the HLC region, which contains most of the tribal colleges in the U.S. 

“It’s a great learning experience; the great value is broadening your perspective,” she said. “Sometimes you can become a little bit too focused on what’s happening at your institution, as opposed to what’s happening in the general higher education sector.” 

Her HLC work as a reviewer, committee member, and more has given her the chance to meet new people, which she always enjoys, she said. 

At OKCU, Jo Lynn makes sure the university assesses learning in student academic and co-curricular programs, and she gathers and analyzes data, provides suggestions, and ensures programs make needed changes. “There’s a good culture of assessment here, and it was here when I came,” she said. 

Within Institutional Research, she primarily focuses on qualitative research, while Director Kelly Williams focuses on quantitative, Jo Lynn said. Kelly handles reports for rankings, strategic planning, surveys of students, statistical research, and more. Jo Lynn handles requests to the Higher Learning Commission, such as the planned physical therapy program. 

In reviewing programs, Jo Lynn discovers student success stories. “The graduates and students just do wonderful things,” she gushed. “It’s just amazing what some of the students do.” 

She also values OKCU. 

“It’s always had such a good reputation in Oklahoma,” said said. “I really like the culture. I think it’s an inclusive culture, certainly inclusive of diversity, and I think it’s a progressive culture, looking toward the future, and it’s a very caring culture, as well.” 

Jo Lynn is married to Swn, who’s half-Norwegian, and has one son and two grandchildren in Midwest City. Swn retired from Northeastern State University after teaching in California, on a Navajo reservation, in a Bureau of Indian Affairs school, and in Oklahoma. The couple has presented papers and workshops at many international conferences, from Mexico to Israel, she said, and they also taught on military bases in Sicily and Germany.