Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Gov. Stitt restructures his cabinet; replaces Ryan Walters as Sec'y of Education

The biggest change comes in the second press release, posted further down this post, in which Gov. Stitt announces that he is replacing State Superintendent Ryan Walters as Secretary of Education - a cabinet-level position. Walters has drawn quite a bit of criticism for simultaneously holding both education-related positions - one elected statewide, the other appointed by the Governor - and "double-dipping" with two government salaries.


OKLAHOMA CITY (April 11, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt issued the following statement after restructuring the Executive Cabinet by Executive Order-2023-08:

“I’m very excited about our new cabinet structure. We are always learning more and trying to improve how we run state government and I believe our cabinet structure should reflect our state’s changing needs.

“I continually hear concerns from across the state as to what we are doing to build up our workforce, so I am looking forward to appointing a new Secretary of Workforce who will be focused specifically on workforce issues. This distinct effort, in addition to working with the Secretary of Commerce, will be critical in our vision to make Oklahoma the most business-friendly state in the nation.

“As governor, I believe in less taxes and smaller government. Creating a Secretary of Operations and Government Efficiency is a targeted effort to ensure my administration stays focused on shrinking the size of government and providing the most efficient services for the taxpayer. Within just weeks of my executive order on reducing the state vehicle fleet, we have saved taxpayers an estimated $2.8 million annually. I know there are more ways to save taxpayer money throughout state government and I look forward to taking additional action with this new cabinet position.

“As a former CEO, my vision is for cabinet secretaries to act as CEOs over their respective agencies, boards, and commissions, which means that these individuals are looking at the big picture and holding their agencies accountable. This new structure reflects our thoughtful approach and will help make Oklahoma a Top Ten state.”

Notable changes in the executive order include:

  • Creation of the Secretary of Operations and Government Efficiency
  • Creation of the Secretary of Workforce Development
  • Elimination of the Secretary of Science and Innovation

Pursuant to state statute, the cabinet system can consist of no more than 15 cabinet areas.

State Chief Operating Officer John Suter will assume the position of Secretary of Operations and Government Efficiency.

The Secretary of Workforce Development will be formally announced following the recommendation of the Governor’s Workforce Transformation Task Force.

The executive order can be read in full here.


OKLAHOMA CITY (April 11, 2023) - Governor Stitt announced today the appointment of Dr. Katherine Curry as Secretary of Education following Executive Order 2023-08. The Secretary of Education oversees 41 boards, agencies, and commissions including the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Council, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the State Board of Career Technology and Education, and the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board.

"Katherine brings a wealth of experience to oversee the many different areas of education across the state, including higher education and career tech. I look forward to her leadership and service as we work towards making Oklahoma a Top Ten state in education," said Governor Stitt.

"I'm excited to partner with Governor Stitt in his pursuit of making Oklahoma Education Top Ten," said Dr. Curry. "Oklahoma has some of the best teachers in the nation, and I look forward to walking alongside these educators to continue creating the strongest educational ecosystem in the country."

Katherine Curry earned her undergraduate degree from West Texas State University in 1984 before earning her masters in educational administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2002. She later obtained a doctorate in Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision in 2011 from the University of Oklahoma. She taught high school English in Texas for three years before moving into administrative positions at the building and district levels. After a graduate research position at OU, Dr. Curry accepted a tenure track faculty position at OSU in 2011. At OSU, she taught masters and doctoral courses in the College of Education and Human Sciences, most recently as a professor and program coordinator of the Educational Leadership/School Administration Program.

"I am excited to have Dr. Curry on our team," said State Superintendent Ryan Walters. "The governor and I are passionate about improving K-12 for all students, improving higher education, and supporting our great teachers to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state for education. We are all committed to transparency and accountability to ensure all education institutions are in line with Oklahoma values."

Dr. Curry has been recognized for her teaching and scholarship through over a dozen awards and nominations through her career. Most recently, she was nominated for the Spring 2023 OSU Regents Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award and was nominated four years in a row for OSU-Tulsa’s President’s Outstanding Teaching Award. She received the International Education Faculty Excellence Award in 2018.


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