Hall of Fame Member Biographies

John M. Hays

There are moments in the life of an academic institution when the school is blessed by the accession of a leader with vision, integrity, and determination.  Such has been the fortune of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) which has received the talents and drive of John M. Hays for thirty-eight years, the last ten years as President of the institution. Born in austere circumstances in Mangum, Oklahoma, John Hays graduated from Granite High School in 1962, having insufficient funds then to attend the school of which he would later become president.  He struggled economically in his early years, but secured a position as an accountant in Oklahoma City, and in 1990 obtained an Ed. D. degree from the University of Oklahoma.  In 1972 he commenced his career at SWOSU by becoming an Assistant Business Manager; then he rose through the ranks to become finally President of the school in 2001.  In his years at Weatherford, Professor Hays served on a multitude of organizations promoting the city and doing charitable work and possesses innumerable awards for his activities.  As president of SWOSU, Professor Hays made notable strides in building up the school.  He created a working agreement with the tribes in western Oklahoma, helped the Comanches, Cheyenne, and Arapaho start their tribal colleges, created an emeriti association, built a wellness center, completed a renovation to the student center, and by a successful capital campaign doubled the assets of the SWOSU Foundation.  In recognition of his retirement in 2009 the Regional University System of Oklahoma honored Dr. John Hays for his outstanding service to SWOSU and to the people of Oklahoma by giving him the title of “President Emeritus.”  The OHEHS salutes the service Professor John M. Hays has given higher education in Oklahoma and welcomes him to join the illustrious group of college and university presidents who have become members of the Higher Education Hall of Fame.