Dr. Shad Satterthwaite recently joined OU Outreach as assistant vice president of Continuing Education Academic Programs (CEAP). Satterthwaite previously served as OU’s equal opportunity officer and assistant to the president in addition to teaching numerous political science courses, managing the faculty-in-residence program and serving as an adjunct faculty member with the College of Liberal Studies and Advanced Programs. Satterthwaite began the transition from main campus to OU Outreach at the beginning of February. Below is an interview with Shad Satterthwaite to help the OU Outreach family get to know the new assistant VP of CEAP.
For those at Outreach unfamiliar with you, tell us about your background: how you came to main campus and how you transitioned here to OU Outreach.
I first came to OU as a graduate student in political science. I finished my graduate work in 1998, and I got a visiting appointment to the political science department where I taught for a few years. At the same time, we were appointed to a faculty-in-residence position, so my family and I lived in Walker Center. That was a lot of fun–our kids were small at the time, so they grew up some there. I’d always helped President Boren teach his political science class, and he asked me to come on board as an assistant in his office, just to manage several different projects. Among these was the faculty-in-residence program, which I still coordinate. I was working out of his office for a few years when the equal opportunity position came open. With my background in the military, I’m trained among other things as an Inspector General, so it was a good fit for the equal opportunity office. I began there in February 2009 and remained there until this past month.
What attracted you OU Outreach and to this position specifically?
The biggest thing for me was an opportunity to work with the military. I have a military background as I mentioned. I’m in the National Guard, and I’ve had a couple deployments to Afghanistan. So this seemed like a neat fit. I also like to teach–I’ve actually taught through Advanced Programs and the College of Liberal Studies. So I was pretty familiar with what Outreach did. It’s pretty inspiring, for example, if you go to a graduation ceremony for the College of Liberal Studies. I’ve been to other graduation ceremonies, and they’re always inspiring. But with CLS it was particularly impressive because these are nontraditional students, even some older people in their seventies finally getting their degree and moms finally earning their degrees and people in the military. It was a big achievement for all of them. And it was really inspiring for me.
How do you think your time in the military will benefit you in this new position?
Joe Berardo is an assistant of mine here. When I first came on board, one of the first things he said when describing his position was “I’m your XO.” And when he said that, I knew exactly what he was talking about. There are a lot of military people working at Outreach. I think Outreach attracts them because we do work so much with the military. Advanced Programs is a big one. We also have an Aviation program, which isn’t a military program per se, but there’s definitely a connection there. There are also other types of programs where we deal with the military. It’s not just that, though. We’ve got the Postal Training Center, English as a Second Language, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. There’s just a whole host of things–Medieval Fair, Intersession. You know, it’s really quite a conglomerate just in this one division. We had our first director’s meeting recently and as we went around and all the directors gave their reports, I just stepped back and thought, “Wow, this is remarkable!” Another thing is that it’s stimulating. It’s neat to be part of so many different programs. That’s certainly an attraction. It’s not the same thing all the time.
How do you think your previous academic work will apply to your work in CEAP?
I think if you get right down to it, if you peel back the onion and get to the heart of what the mission of the university is, it is really providing that academic core. Teaching is a vital component of that. President Boren teaches a course every semester, and I would say the same thing that appeals to him about it also appeals to me. You don’t lose focus. We’re really teachers first, and I think that by doing that, everything else is adding on to that. All of our programs come around to support that–that product we have, which is excellent teaching.
Many professors seem more focused on their research than their teaching, which on the surface doesn’t appear to benefit the students.
Research is very important because it helps you become a more cutting-edge teacher. You know what’s going on in the field. You have more creativity in the classroom. These two things certainly go hand-in-hand. But you don’t want to lose focus on the students.
What has most surprised you about OU Outreach since you began full time here?
I didn’t realize the sheer diversity of Outreach. I knew it was diverse, but when I got down here, it was something else. I think someone said this morning: you go from a summer camp for six-year-olds at the flight academy to a PhD program for military service members in Europe.
What has been your favorite part about Outreach so far?
The people down here are just great. That’s what makes it nice. You can love your job, but if the people you work with are difficult to get along with, that can make it difficult. You can do a lot if you really enjoy the people you work with.
Looking to the future, what are you most excited about?
Right now, I’m in more of a listening mode. I am anxious to look at some of the expansion of some of the programs. I’ve been briefed on a few plans, and it sounds pretty exciting.
You’ve served in several capacities with nonprofits. How important is volunteerism and service to you?
I think Outreach does that well. We contribute in a lot of meaningful ways. When I was a new faculty member, I’d get calls occasionally from media outlets that just wanted to know about some election coming up. What they really wanted was a sound bite to beef up their story, and I didn’t like doing that; I didn’t really think I needed to do that. But a political science colleague told me that wasn’t the right attitude. We’re paid by the state of Oklahoma, so we really have an obligation to educate not just the students but the community at large. Part of what we do is a service. Granted, we get paid for that, but I think contributing to our community, whether it’s teaching or volunteering for an organization, is very important. We don’t want to just be an island to ourselves; we want to contribute to our community, and I think we have. If you talk with Dr. Pappas, one thing he stresses is that Outreach helps people. What a great way to be! If you look at job satisfaction surveys, you’d think that people with high paying jobs would be happiest. Well, researchers found that those most satisfied with their jobs were clergy, firefighters, teachers, physical therapists and others in service jobs like those. The common denominator of what gave people satisfaction is whether or not they could help others. Jobs that paid well were typically lower on the list. What you are giving to others directly correlates to your satisfaction in your job.
If there was one thing that you wanted everyone at OU Outreach to know about you, what would that be?
(Laughs) You know that sounds like a softball question, but it’s actually a tough one. I think the biggest thing about me is that I’m a family guy. I love my family. Also, I guess for people who know me, I like to help. I like to be of assistance if I can. Some things are out of my scope, but if there’s something that I can help on, I will.
Is there anything else you would like share?
The military has been a big part of my life. I’ve been in 26 years and I’ve had a couple tours of Afghanistan. Those were meaningful events in my life. You know, if you go to a war-torn country like that, you really appreciate what we have over here. The way they live, not just quality of life–they don’t have much–but there’s no safety net. They’re survivors. Then you couple that with the fact that they’re in a constant state of fear because of war. Our house is anything but fancy–but I thought when I got back that we live in a mansion! It was built in 1966, the year I was born, but I experienced almost a bit of culture shock when I returned home to it.
Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure speaking with you.