WEATHERFORD – Southwestern Oklahoma State University hosted a media day Thursday on the Weatherford campus where classes have reopened for students.
President Randy Beutler has announced he will close out a 35-year career in education and public service with his upcoming retirement effective June 30, 2021.
On Thursday, Beutler said the cost of attending SWOSU is lower than the cost at 30 other comparable universities. The cost is about $4,300 less than 30 other schools.
This fall, the enrollment is down just 1.5% as the pandemic continues. Classes have returned for in-person learning. NCAA Division II schools are not playing sports this fall.
Brian Adler, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing for the university, said most schools of comparable size have enrollments down more than at SWOSU. There are 4,900 students enrolled this fall at SWOSU.
Beutler was named the 17th president of SWOSU in February 2010. He will be completing nearly 12 years leading the institution, becoming the third longest-serving president in institutional history.
“SWOSU is a very special place, and I have been blessed to be part of the incredible Bulldog community,” Beutler said.
“The work being done at this institution through teaching, learning, research, community engagement and academic partnerships is unprecedented in our 120-year history.”
Beutler said that he will continue to help guide the school through the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. He said he has been contemplating a retirement date for some time.
“President Beutler has led SWOSU in providing an extraordinary education to students while increasing both degree and nationally-accredited programs, ensuring financial stability, and producing graduates ready to enter Oklahoma’s workforce, “said Susan Winchester, chair of the Regional University System of Oklahoma. “He has positioned SWOSU as a valuable educational asset for our entire state, and we appreciate his masterful leadership in higher education.”
Under his leadership, SWOSU has seen many projects and milestones accomplished.
The largest building project in the history of the university was completed under his watch. The 93,000 square foot Pioneer Cellular Event Center was opened in January 2014. In addition, the ground-breaking partnership with Yukon Public Schools was conceived and implemented during Beutler’s tenure. He has also worked closely with the President’s Leadership Class, which he developed while working under former SWOSU President John Hays.
“I am very appreciative of the support that the Weatherford community gives to SWOSU,” Beutler said. “That is very unique among university towns, and it has been great to be able to work with city leaders in making this a successful institution.”
As to his plans in retirement, Beutler said he looks forward to being able to spend more time at his ranch and also working on his historical research and writing.
Prior to being named president of SWOSU, Beutler taught history and government for several years at Weatherford High School. In 1992, he was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 60. During his tenure there, Beutler rose to the position of Majority Whip. He currently is a partner in Beutler-Redd Ranches, Limited, a cow-calf ranch that operates north of Elk City.
Beutler says that he plans to remain at his residence in Weatherford.
Classes started on Monday, August 17. Campus will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Fall Break will be canceled and classes will meet on October 15 and 16. Commencement (delayed from May) will be held on November 20-21 with limited guest participation. Classes will meet as usual on November 23 and 24. After Thanksgiving Break, in order to minimize the spread of the virus from potential holiday travel, all classes will transition to virtual. There will be three days of virtual Dead Days, November 30-December 2. Virtual finals will start on Thursday, December 3 and end on Wednesday, December 9.
Jeremy Pyle contributed to this report.