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Nicholas S. Hathaway Named 2017 Otis Sullivant Award Winner

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Nicholas S. Hathaway Named 2017 Otis Sullivant Award Winner

Nicholas S. Hathaway




NORMAN – Nicholas S. Hathaway, Executive Vice President, Vice President for Administration and Finance and Vice President for Strategic Planning, has been named the 2017 recipient of the $20,000 Otis Sullivant Award for Perceptivity at the University of Oklahoma. 

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the selection committee, which is composed of faculty and staff members, students and alumni, makes the selection.

“The committee selected Vice President Hathaway based upon his major contributions to the university, especially through his foresight in long-range strategic planning,” said OU First Lady Molly Shi Boren. “He is personally truly devoted to the future of the university and its excellence.”

The late Edith Kinney Gaylord of Oklahoma City established the $500,000 Sullivant Prize endowment shortly before her death in January 2001. The award honors the late longtime Oklahoma journalist Otis Sullivant, who covered Oklahoma and national political news for several decades and was known for his ability to analyze and accurately predict political trends. Edith Kinney Gaylord was a longtime supporter of many OU programs and a pioneering journalist. She was the first woman reporter to join the New York bureau of the Associated Press, and was the second president and one of the founders of the Women’s National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“We are thrilled for Nick to receive this award as he is an individual who truly personifies the quality of perceptivity,” said Bob Ross, president and CEO of the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. “It is an honor to present this award to such a deserving recipient on behalf of the Foundation.”

The award is presented to a faculty or staff member at OU who exhibits “keen perceptivity.” The agreement establishing the prize also states that a person “who manifests intuitiveness, instant comprehension, empathy, is observant and interprets from experience” should be selected. The benefit to society and the broader community, which comes from the insight of the recipient, also is considered.

Hathaway is a well-respected and extremely trusted leader. He is admired for his focus on the overall good of the university, its mission and members of its community. Hathaway’s strong intuition and keen perceptivity has contributed mightily to the Boren administration that has led OU to new heights.  

Hathaway has been on staff at OU since 1994. As current Executive Vice President, he coordinates communication between the Office of the President and other officers of the university, ensuring that programs, initiatives and projects are moving forward. A trusted member of the university community, he is in daily contact with deans, directors and vice presidents and also has served as liaison to OU faculty and staff governance groups.

As Vice President of Administration and Finance, Hathaway has more than 1,200 employees reporting through his administrative structure and is responsible for overseeing the financial affairs of the university for the Norman campus, including the annual budget process.

As stated in a nomination letter, Erin Yarbrough, Associate Vice President for OU Web Communications, Marketing and New Media said, “Nick is a visionary for higher education and continuously strives to further the mission of the University of Oklahoma. His strong leadership and passion for opening new doors for students at OU is incredibly motivating. He never ceases to inspire everyone who has the honor of working with him.”

Hathaway has a compelling record of strong leadership in program development and strategic research initiatives in all areas of the university. He has had a particularly direct leadership role in the development of the five Partners Place buildings; the Stephenson Life Sciences Center; the K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal on the University Research Campus; Wagner Hall and the WaTER (Water Technologies for Emerging Regions) Center on the Norman campus; Traditions Square Apartments and the Aquatic Research Facility near the Norman campus; the establishment of OU’s flagship study abroad program in Arezzo, Italy; the development and realization of the university’s bicycle plan; as well as the design of the collaborative arrangement  to operate the university’s utility infrastructure.

Hathaway’s role in President Boren’s leadership team has included efforts to promote new programs and initiatives in university business planning, communication and assessment, these include implementating  a holistic admission process for undergraduate admission, reimagining the University’s tuition structure with Flat Rate Tuition, introducing a three-year budget planning cycle, and developing  the OU Community Impact Report. In addition, he has been instrumental in promoting technology at OU, including the establishment of a chief information officer position and the creation of the OU Web Communications Department, which has been instrumental in transforming the University’s web presence and establishing OU as a leader in social media utilization.  He has also been a leading champion of the University’s OneU Digital Initiative.

With Hathaway playing a leading role, OU has become a national leader in higher education in using business analytics to identify efficiencies, cost savings and new strategic opportunities. Recent initiatives include developing a student feedback system to improve the student experience and, ultimately, graduation rates; using graduation likelihood predictions to better coach and support students; and uncovering best practices to reduce institutional turnover and associated high costs.

Hathaway provides input and coordination for key research programs, including most recently the strategic plan for radar research, the statistical assessment of OU’s research program and recruitment of key research personnel.

Ken Parker, co-founder and CEO of NextThought, stated in his nomination letter, “Nick listens carefully to those involved and observes body language. This, coupled with his long tenure, vast relationships and historical knowledge make him an incredibly perceptive and effective leader. He understands the issues and priorities of the parties involved, and seeks outcomes with long-term benefits.”

Hathaway also is actively engaged in the university’s academic planning. Notable recent projects include ongoing retention initiatives, improvements to developmental math, study of instructional cost management, development of an advising improvement plan, and improvements to student recruitment including significant advancements in methods and strategies for out-of-state student recruitment. Other academic advancements initiated by Hathaway include the creation of the Graduation Office, the Center for Student Advancement and the Sooner Success Program.

In a supporting nomination letter, Joe Foote, professor and former dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication said, “No doubt that there is a critical issue percolating on OU’s campus right now where Nick Hathaway is quietly, perceptively, methodically working towards solutions. Most of us will never know how and why the issue got resolved or who provided the perceptive leadership for that resolution. It is the brand of public service that Otis Sullivant would respect and applaud.”

A proven community advocate, Hathaway currently serves as the vice chair of the Health Sciences Facilities, Inc. Board of Directors and is a member of the Norman Rotary Club. He also has been a member of the State of Oklahoma Higher Education Alumni Council Board of Directors, Norman Economic Development Coalition Board of Directors, Norman Community Foundation Board of Directors, among many other city and state committees.

He has received awards and honors from such community entities as OG&E and the Norman Economic and Development Coalition.

A graduate of Tulane University, Hathaway also received a master of business administration from OU. He previously served on the U.S. Senate Staff when OU President David L. Boren was a U.S. Senator and served as a program director for the National Center for Economic Alternatives in Washington, D.C.

Hathaway is married to Nanette Shadid Hathaway, director of the President's Leadership Class and coordinator of Crimson Club at OU. They live in Norman with their three children - Grace, Nicholas and Anna.

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