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May 6, 2013

Student-centered service the goal, says VP candidate Kreidler

By Donna Fowler

Steven Kreidler says his job is to help students learn.

“Everybody is an educator when you work at a university,” said Kreidler, one of two candidates for the position of vice president for administration, finance and facilities, at an open meeting for faculty and staff.  The one-hour meeting was part of a full day of interviews on May 2.

Calling that statement his personal philosophy of education, Kreidler has been walking the walk on student-centered service at the University of Central Oklahoma (OCU), where he has been executive vice president since 2005 and vice president of administration for four years before then.

He said support functions like those in an administrative division help students by making it easier for faculty and staff to solve problems that can interfere with learning.

Kreidler said he has tackled problems at OCU by using the “lean university” concept— a technical process where frontline workers map a process over the time it takes, including the activities that are happening concurrently.

“This way you can see what actually happens and how it can be improved. You get rid of anything that doesn’t add value to the customer,” he explained, adding that “lean is not about cutting people; it’s about freeing them up for higher and better problem solving.”

As for the issues of finances and funding, Kreidler said OCU has about 18,000 students, many of whom are first-generation, and  it is the least-funded public institution in the state. “Sound familiar?” he asked the audience.

He said that most states, including Oklahoma, have a broken model of higher education funding.  “I know and have lived these issues,” he said, citing business ventures, grants, tuition and fundraising as alternatives to state funding.

Kreidler closed the meeting by saying that listening and understanding, empathy and healing, are essential to becoming a better problem solver. “All it takes is common sense, sound judgment and compassion.”

The second candidate, Reagan Romali, will be on campus this Wednesday. Her open meeting will be held from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in SSB 400.

And a farewell reception for the outgoing vice president, Natalie Lutes, will be held this Thursday from 2:30-4 p.m. in SSB 400.


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