• Sydnie Balcer

SWOSU Provost James South to retire June 2021



By Sydnie Balcer

For The Southwestern


SWOSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs James South will be retiring from his position at SWOSU after 26 years serving the institution on June 30, 2021.


For South, the decision to retire was one he started thinking about around three years ago.

“The average length of tenure for a provost nationwide is four years; this is my eighth year,” South said. “When I originally took the job, I saw it as a way to give back to the place that has given me so much.”


After 26 years at SWOSU, South has held many different positions at the university. Beginning his career at SWOSU in 1995, South was the director of bands and taught music education, and in 2000, he also began teaching trumpet.


In 2008, he became the chair of the Music Department. Then in 2012, he became the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. It was in 2013 that South took on the job of provost and vice president of academic affairs, where he has been working since.


During his time working at SWOSU, he has helped the university accomplish a lot, including creating the honors program, expanding the Center for Excellence in Teaching in Learning, beginning the Instructional Excellence Academy, and improving SWOSU’s graduation and retention rates.


“We are currently the highest graduation and retention rates of the RUSO schools,” South said. The Regional University System of Oklahoma, or RUSO, governs six of Oklahoma’s universities, which, aside from SWOSU, are: East Central University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern State University and the University of Central Oklahoma.


South said every RUSO university will have the final say over who the next provost and vice president of academic affairs is. Randy Beutler has always gotten a committee made up of staff and sometimes students from the university to find finalists, and sometimes semifinalists, for the position. Often, there is an open forum for people to attend to speak to the finalists. The committee will create a ranked list of their choices for the next provost and vice president of academic affairs, and the president will review it before making the final decision.


When asked what he would miss most SWOSU, South said “The great people. Every day, at some point, I’m reminded how great the people are who work here. People really care about the tradition and the institution.”


After retirement, South plans to spend time with his wife and dog and pursue his hobbies of photography, motorcycling, traveling with his wife, hiking, and camping.

© All material is the property of SWOSU Media Production, Southwestern Oklahoma State University