“(Surratt) worked really, really hard, and I’m just extremely proud of him,” Stroud said. “It’s really awesome to see one of our students who put so much into our community here and to leave and watch them make investments in other communities. But then to see them get to come back home is really special for you.”
When Henderson heard that Surratt was being considered for the job, he sent Surratt an email saying that if he was offered the job, he’d hope Surratt would accept because the campus was in need of him now more than ever, Henderson said.
“Too many of us older men never passed the gauntlet onto the next generation,” Henderson said. “David coming here gives me symbolically passing that gauntlet onto that next generation. And knowing that in a very positive way, that it’s in good hands, he will be fair, he will do the best that he possibly can. It means that people like me can, can sit back and say, ‘well done.’”
For Surratt, it is a deeply personal decision aside from a professional one, he said. Because working for a place like OU and its mission for success in public education spoke to him, Surratt hopes he can continue to lead teams to work on retention for students and take charge of student services.
“There’s a special place of doing this for your alma mater and doing it at a place that actually gave me a lot of opportunities too,” Surratt said. “I was (a first generation college student) … There was a lot of things I just didn’t know. And so then there’s a lot of gratitude I have for Oklahoma, not only for the focus on education, but also the things that it gave me personally.”