Neuhold-Ravikumar’s First Week of Presidency
University of Central Oklahoma President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar has held office for a little over a week, having started July 1. Former President Don Betz had decided to stay for a portion of the summer semester to help Neuhold-Ravikumar through the transition.
Neuhold-Ravikumar said the transition and working with Betz was a smooth process.
“It was very encouraging for Dr. Betz to be here to help me lead into this next step,” she said. “He’s been a great model of leadership on our campus and he continued to be that way throughout the transition… We worked closely together to make sure that all the important issues that were ongoing would be cared for and shepherded forward as we handed the torch off.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar said that one of her priorities as president is allowing for diversity of thought.
“I am surrounded by competent and caring, invested leaders… I make sure to tap into that expertise and that investment on a regular basis,” she said. “I always want to make sure that I invite a diverse group of voices to help inform any decision that I might make.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar recently changed her name to include her wife’s surname after the paperwork took months to be completed and approved. They had gotten married last September. Coincidentally, it lined up with her starting her job as the university president.
“It’s a long process… You realize one more thing every day when something comes in the mail,” she said. “You think, ‘Oh my goodness, I haven’t changed it there.’”
This makes her not just UCO’s first female president, but also Oklahoma’s first openly LGBTQ+ president.
“I am the sum of all of my experiences, and through the experience that I have had, forms who I am and how I think and how I interact with other people,” she said. “This gives people a chance to be seen, to be recognized for their capacity for leadership rather than the labels that they’re assigned.”
Enrollment is also another priority. There has been a steady decline in UCO’s enrollment in the past couple of years; in the past five years, there has been a 10.5 percent drop in credit hours enrolled. Neuhold-Ravikumar said that enrollment is an issue that every area on campus has been actively working toward trying to help.
“We have to make sure that UCO is meeting the needs of students today,” she said. “Are we making sure that we’re offering relevant classes and majors? Are we working with businesses to connect what we offer with what they need? Are we delivering education in a way that meets the needs of students today? We have to be thinking of how we can reshape what we do to meet the future.”
Neuhold-Ravikumar has been with the university since 2007. She started out as the Process Improvement Coordinator in May 2007, and before she became president, she had been the Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer since 2016.
She said her understanding of the university has grown and become deeper with every year she has worked at UCO.
“I think an appreciation of who we are and what our purpose is in the state and in the world, educating people and creating a path for a brighter future that can change the trajectory for the generations that follow is a powerful and meaningful mission for anyone,” she said, “I feel honored to get to be part of that.”