Patterson Pledges To Lead CSC, Honor Its Legacy, Listen To Stakeholders


(Photo by Tena L Cook/CSC)

By Tena L Cook CSC Director of Marketing

Several speakers noted the excitement and energy in the air during the investiture of Chadron State College’s twelfth president, Dr. Ron K. Patterson, Friday in Memorial Hall.

Others mentioned the celebration marked a time for renewal. Music by CSC students and an inaugural poem written and performed by Distinguished Young Alumni recipient Jovan Mays punctuated the event.

Patterson came to CSC from the University of North Alabama in Florence. His six-year administrative progression at the University of North Alabama included service as associate vice president for enrollment management, chief enrollment officer, and chief enrollment officer and special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion with responsibility for both enrollment management, academic programs and centers, and diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Paul Turman, Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System (NSCS), said Patterson is deeply committed to academic excellence and community engagement and understands the challenges facing colleges by demonstrating an exceptional blend of vision, passion, and dedication.

“He takes a transparent approach to leadership and recognizes the importance of innovation and adaptability in addressing enrollment challenges. We’ve found a champion with outstanding qualities who understands the challenges low-income and first-generation students face, firmly believing that education and successful pathways to a degree should be accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance,” Turman said.

In his keynote address, Dr. James Pruett shed some light on Patterson as a young professional. Pruett said he met Patterson 20 years ago at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing and was his supervisor for about three years in the Office of Student Affairs.

“I was near the tail end of my professional career. Ron was the eager-to-learn, determined-to-succeed, young professional. He was a hard worker and a quick study. He was absolutely pivotal in everything we did to completely turn that office around,” Pruett said.

Pruett said each of Patterson’s associates he spoke to while preparing his remarks told him of Patterson’s basic goodness and determination to succeed.

“He’s decisive and can make tough decisions,” Pruett said. “He handled complex issues appropriately and with respect. Ron is able to communicate at the heart level in a personal and persuasive way.”

Pruett reviewed Patterson’s lifelong work ethic sharing a story about Patterson working in a grocery store as a young teenager to help with family finances.

“Ron did his best, had high goals, and strived to be an example for others. He was a dedicated student, a wonderful athlete, and a terrific basketball player. He was named the Mississippi high school Co-Player of the Year with Lorenzen Wright who went on to play 14 years in the NBA,” Pruett said.

After speaking with three of Patterson’s coaches, Pruett said they all described him as unselfish and a leader on and off the court.

“Ron Patterson is a special human being. He is now and always has been loved and respected by many,” Pruett said.

Pruett praised CSC for its long and successful history and said he feels the stars have aligned with Patterson’s arrival.

“We have the right person in the right place at the right time,” Pruett said.

In his address, Patterson told the audience he was honored by the NSCS’s trust in him to lead the historic institution and thanked Turman for his wisdom and support.

He acknowledged members of CSC’s leadership team, faculty, staff, and students for their dedication, abilities, and confidence in him. Patterson thanked his family, friends, and mentors who helped him through his career and education.

“Like the turtle on the fence post, I did not get here on my own,” he said. “My family gave me strong support and laid the foundation of my core values. The core values of trusting God in everything I do, hard work, individual responsibility, integrity, hope, respect for others, and humility have guided me throughout my life.”

He acknowledged work by his predecessors and the faculty and staff they hired.

“Because of their excellent leadership, Chadron State College is poised and emerging as the region’s intellectual, cultural, and economic heartbeat,” Patterson said. “As we reflect on the collective commitment to teaching, innovation, excellence, and scholarship, we all have benefited from others’ hard work and dedication. This legacy reflects a strong sense of community, institutional resiliency, and citizens rooted with a clear sense of serving people, purpose, and place,” Patterson said.

Patterson shared how his fall presidential listening tour with 22 stops in eastern Colorado, eastern Wyoming, and southwest South Dakota, provided him with a sense of excitement about CSC.

Patterson praised the faculty as the engine and energy that propels the college.

“The recognition our faculty have brought to the institution speaks to the quality and excellence of their teaching, grants, research, scholarly and creative activities, and community engagement,” Patterson said.

He reassured students that his thoughts, actions, and decisions revolve around their success.

“Your unique stories are the feathers of an eagles’ wing that allow us to soar higher than we can imagine.” Patterson said. “As we face challenges and opportunities to build our future together, my commitment is to do my best to lead CSC to advance its impact on every life we touch. There’s no place I’d rather be.”

In closing, Patterson announced the launch of the President’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative. The fund is a strategic response to the critical needs of the region, providing agile resources for program development, addressing workforce demands, forging strategic public-private partnerships, and enhancing curriculum development.

Brief welcomes were offered by Dr. Mathew Brust, president-elect of the CSC Faculty Senate, and former state Senator John Stinner, who also shared greetings from state Senator Tom Brewer, who was unable to attend. Mayor George Klein extended his congratulations and support from the City of Chadron.

Dr. JoAnne Owens-Nauslar, president of the Chadron State Foundation Board, said she looks forward to working with Patterson.

“We are excited to continue promoting, creating, maintaining, and expanding opportunities that encourage future and current students to come to the nest and alumni to return to the nest,” she said.

Clayton Riesen, president of the Chadron State Alumni Board, said he appreciates Patterson’s positive attitude and friendly demeanor.

Kate Pope, president of the Professional Staff Association, said the ceremony symbolized the renewal of the campus’ collective commitment to the ideals of academic excellence, community engagement, and the pursuit of knowledge.

Brianna Smith, president of the Campus Activity Board, said the event was a time to reflect on the legacy of CSC, embrace the present, and look earnestly toward the future. She said Patterson has been present and encouraging with activities and clubs across campus.

“Your dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed, and we are immensely grateful for all that you do,” she said.

Aubree Quast, president of the Student Senate, said when she met Patterson, she knew he was the leader CSC needed.

“As students, we were looking for a president who is active on campus, listens to us, and will lead us to a bright future. The work and energy Dr. Patterson has brought to our campus so far has been incredible. Students can see how willing he is to work with everyone and how he loves to help us find solutions to any issues,” she said.

Student Trustee Cooper Reichman said when he met Patterson, the candidate’s mindfulness and intentional energy were apparent.

“Whether it was a simple but meaningful handshake or a barrage of sophisticated questions. This has continued in every speech, decision he’s made, or casual conversation I have witnessed. Knowing how decisive Dr. Patterson is and how he chose to come to CSC shows his commitment to our institution,” Reichman said.