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Dr Ruth Ray Jackson speaks at the 2023 Opening Convocation
Published 08/31/2023
by Ellie Melero and Jet Turner

Langston, Okla. – Interim President Ruth Ray Jackson spoke about her goals for Langston University and her plans to achieve them over the next year during the Formal Opening Convocation Ceremony at I.W. Young Auditorium on Thursday.

“As we embark on this year of transition and prepare for a new chapter in the history of our institution, let’s embrace each opportunity to recommit to our institutional vision statement,” President Jackson said. “‘To foster an environment which cultivates leaders, innovators and engaged citizens who meet the challenges of local, national and global communities.’”

The Opening Convocation marked the formal opening of the university for the 2023-24 academic year. President Jackson, who assumed office on July 6 after President Kent J. Smith, Jr.’s, retirement, took the opportunity to address the Langston community and discuss her Presidential Priorities, or Five P’s, for the university during her interim presidency.

The Five P’s are People, Programs, Processes, Public Relations and Purpose.


People refers to the Langston community: students, future students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends. President Jackson spoke about the need to take care of all members of the Langston family and the ways in which the university is doing so.

“We are committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for our students to learn and live,” President Jackson said. “For our employees, we will cultivate a campus culture that allows us to recruit and retain talented people who, first and foremost, understand and support our mission.”

Student retention and graduation rates have increased, and graduate student enrollment has increased by 43%. Campus housing is at capacity, and Langston has taken occupancy of its new Oklahoma City campus on Kelley Avenue.

Additionally, the university has welcomed nearly 40 new faculty and staff since May, and university employees recently received a 3% raise, partially facilitated by funding from the State Regents and Oklahoma legislature.


Programs refers not only to the various associates, bachelors, masters and doctoral programs offered at Langston University, but also the various cocurricular and extracurricular activities which help to enrich the lives of Langston students.

Langston’s academic programs are continually evaluated and updated as needed to ensure students receive quality education which fully prepares them for competitive fields and industries. In addition to program updates, Langston is also working to increase its online graduate and certificate program offerings.

President Jackson also announced that Langston will soon offer a Master of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security, which means four of Langston’s six academic schools will offer at least one graduate degree program.


The third P, Processes, refers to President Jackson’s goal to update, optimize and streamline as many of the necessary processes and procedures of the university as possible. Many procedures and platforms are currently under review to determine how best to accomplish this goal.


“There is an African proverb that says, ‘Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero,’” President Jackson said. “We must tell our story.”

President Jackson encouraged students, faculty, staff and alumni to not only share their stories with the university’s Public Relations team, but also with their own networks of friends and families.


President Jackson’s final P is Purpose. As one of only 102 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and one of only 19 Historically Black Land Grant Institutions in the United States, Langston University has a higher calling than simply teaching students.

Langston provides affordable access to all students, regardless of background, to career oriented higher education, and it empowers them to make lasting impacts in the world through critical teaching and research.

“Since our founding in 1897, we have provided a nurturing environment for our students, especially those most at risk for not completing college,” President Jackson said. “We play a critical role in fostering upward mobility and helping diverse students achieve their educational, professional and personal aspirations.”

President Jackson ended her remarks by reading Langston University’s Mission Statement, which aligns with the Five P’s:

Grounded in its rich traditions as a historically Black college and university, and a land-grant institution, Langston University offers quality post-secondary education to diverse populations through academics, research, community engagement, extension, and co-curricular experiences that lead to professional competence and degree completion.

“This is what we were founded to do,” President Jackson said. “This is what we have done for 126 years. This is what we will continue to do this year and for many more to come.”

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