Dr. E. Joseph Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award
The Chief Executive Leadership Award recognizes a District IV member institution president, headmaster, chancellor, educational system head or their institutional CEO for outstanding efforts to promote understanding and support of education.
District IV will not be accepting nominations for 2021. The Special Recognition Awards will resume in 2022.
- District IV member institution president, headmaster, chancellor, educational system head or institutional CEO. Nominee must have been at current institution for 5 consecutive years prior to nomination.
- Demonstrate the ability to create a vision and inspire others.
- Establish a positive image for their institution while leading it to even higher levels of success.
- Increase institution’s stature in the community.
- Encourage innovation and risk-taking among employees.
- Support all aspects of advancement at their institution.
- Employed at a CASE District IV member institution at the time of selection.
- A completed CASE District IV Official Nomination Form.
- A nominating statement (no more than 3 pages) outlining the nominee’s qualifications for the award.
- Vitae or biographical profile.
- 3 letters of nomination with at least 1 being from an individual outside of the nominee’s institution.
Dr. Natalie J. Harder
Dr. Natalie J. Harder was named chancellor at South Louisiana Community College in 2012.
She is responsible for all operational, academic, student services, advancement, and workforce development aspects of the college and its 13,000+ students served annually. The college includes campuses in the nine parishes of South Louisiana and has a $28 million budget. During Dr. Harder’s first year, she oversaw the merger of SLCC and Acadiana Technical College, making this new comprehensive community college one of the fastest growing in Louisiana.
Through her leadership, she has made educational attainment a priority. The college campuses that have historically only offered technical programs began offering associate degrees. This makes it easier for residents to earn a degree close to where they live and work. In addition, many of the college’s technical programs were revamped and shorten to get well-prepared graduates into the workforce quicker. Her spirit of collaboration brought together the chief officers from the region’s largest hospital systems, who contributed financially to establishing the college’s Registered Nursing program. Additionally, this partnership established three endowed professorships in Registered Nursing.
She has been named a 2013 Darden College of Education Fellow at Old Dominion University and is a board member for Louisiana’s Community and Technical College System Foundation. She also has been named to the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). In her role, she helped determine Commission policy, reviewed and made decisions regarding the accreditation of institutions, and served as a liaison between membership and Commission staff. In addition, Dr. Harder was elected to the American Association of Community College (AACC) Board of Directors in July 2015.
She and her husband, Cian Robinson, have two sons, Tucker and Rory.
Renu Khator, Ph.D.
Renu Khator holds the dual titles of Chancellor of the University of Houston (UH) System and President of the University of Houston. The UH System’s first woman chancellor and the first Indian immigrant to head a comprehensive research university in the United States, she assumed her post in January 2008.
As chancellor of the UH System, Khator oversees a four-university organization that serves nearly 70,000 students, has an annual budget that exceeds $1.7 billion, and produces a $6 billion-plus economic impact on the Greater Houston area each year.
As president of the University of Houston, she is the chief executive officer of the largest and oldest of the four UH System universities.
Khator was born in Uttar Pradesh, India, earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kanpur. She received her master’s degree in political science and Ph.D. in political science and public administration from Purdue University. A noted scholar in the field of global environmental policy, she has published numerous books and articles on the subject. Prior to her appointment, she was provost and senior vice president at the University of South Florida, capping a 22-year career at that institution.
Dr. Janet Cunningham
CASE District IV is honored to present the 2016 Dr. E. Joseph Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award to Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Dr. Cunningham has served Northwestern for more than 30 years, leading the school as its chief executive officer since July 2006. She is the second alum and first woman to serve as president of the institution. Under her leadership, Northwestern has been transformed into a dynamic, nationally recognized regional university that is leading the effort to improve life in western Oklahoma and beyond.
In less than 10 years, Cunningham has guided Northwestern to levels of success unimagined by most. During her tenure, enrollment rose from 1,800 students to more than 2,300. Focused on improving the academic reputation of the University, she led the effort to increase the number of specialized program accreditations to attract top students. Her efforts are paying dividends as the number of freshmen scoring a 29 or better on the ACT have doubled in the past four years. Cunningham also successfully led the transition of Northwestern from the NAIA to NCAA Division II.
Cunningham has placed a priority on improving the quality of life in rural western Oklahoma. In February of this year, Northwestern was given approval to begin its first doctoral program in advanced nursing practice, a program that has the potential to dramatically improve healthcare in rural Oklahoma by increasing the number of primary care providers. With higher education in Oklahoma sustaining record budget cuts, the program is being funded entirely with private gifts that are being used to create faculty endowments and pay for start-up costs.
During her tenure, private giving to Northwestern has soared as Cunningham has decentralized fundraising efforts and instilled a campus-wide culture of philanthropy. Since becoming president in 2006, Northwestern has raised more than $35 million in private gifts. Northwestern has established 43 endowed faculty chairs, the most of any regional university in Oklahoma, and five of every nine students now receive private scholarship dollars. Today, 55 percent of graduates leave the institution with no student debt. The current Imagine Northwestern Campaign has to date raised $19.9 million and will surpass its total expected goal of $20 million before going public in spring 2017.
In 2015, she was awarded the Kate Barnard Award, which is presented to female public servants who have contributed to an improved quality of life in Oklahoma. That same year, Cunningham was inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame. She became a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma in 2001 and currently serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
2015 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award
David F. Rankin, Ph.D., CFA, President, Southern Arkansas University Community College
2014 E. Joseph Savoie Executive Leadership Award
Thomas K. McKeon, Ed.D., President, Tulsa Community College
2013 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award
Dr. Steven G. Gamble, President, Eastern New Mexico University
2012 Dr. Joseph E. Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award
Dr. Victor J. Boschini Jr., Chancellor, Texas Christian University
2011 E. Joseph Savoie Chief Executive Leadership Award