Stitt taps professor as Oklahoma's new education secretary, Ryan Walters out
By John Dobberstein, Editor
Gov. Kevin Stitt chose Dr. Katherine Curry as his cabinet-level Secretary of Education Tuesday, withdrawing his previous nomination of State Supt. Ryan Walters for the job.
The Senate must confirm cabinet-level positions in the administration and had not taken any steps to confirm Walters, whose tenure as an education leader has been supported by many conservatives but fraught with controversy overall.
"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," Stitt said in a statement Tuesday.
Walters did not directly answer questions from reporters earlier Tuesday on why Stitt chose to withdraw the nomination, but said in his official statement he was "excited to have Curry on our team.
"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."
Curry is an education professor at Oklahoma State University, earning 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, 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.
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.
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.
"I'm excited to partner with Governor Stitt in his pursuit of making Oklahoma Education Top Ten," Curry said Tuesday in a news release from Stitt's office. "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."