By Tim Priebe
November 9, 2021

Professional Q&A: John deSteiguer

The President of Oklahoma Christian University shares what he likes about living and working in the Edmond area.

John deSteiguer is an Edmond resident and the President of Oklahoma Christian University. John became President a few years after I graduated and has an excellent reputation among alumni. Let’s find out how John came to Edmond and what he likes about our community.

Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?

A: My wife, Darla, and I live in Edmond and have been here since 2003. My University, Oklahoma Christian – while deeply involved in all things Edmond, is technically located in Oklahoma City. But, we border Edmond on three sides of campus. 

Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?

A: My dad was a Naval Aviator, so we moved quite a bit as I grew up. I was born in Arkansas (and lived there for one day until Mom got us back on the Oklahoma side of the border!) but lived in Virginia, Texas, California, Nebraska, and Guam before dad retired, and we moved to Tahlequah for my high school years. I attended college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah and graduated in 1984. I moved to Kingston, Jamaica, to attend the University of the West Indies as a Rotary International Scholar (at about the same time, my then-girlfriend and now wife, Darla, graduated from NSU and moved to Auckland, New Zealand as a Rotary International Scholar). 

Q: What did you do prior to getting involved with Oklahoma Christian University?

A: I worked as a Youth Minister for the year following my return from Jamaica. In June 1986, Darla and I married, and then we began law school together at Pepperdine University. We both graduated in 1989 and moved to Dallas, where I practiced law with Haynes & Boone, and Darla clerked for US District Court Judge Joe Fish, and then practiced law with Carrington, Coleman. In 1993, we returned to Tahlequah – I went to work for NSU as the Executive Director of the NSU Foundation and university’s Chief Fundraising Officer, and Darla practiced Estate Planning. In 2003, we moved to Edmond and began working with Oklahoma Christian University.

Q: How did you get involved with your current organization?

John deSteiguer, president of Oklahoma Christian University, in his office (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

A: Mike O’Neal had recently become OC’s 6th President, and he invited us to come to Oklahoma Christian for me to serve as the University’s Vice President for Advancement. We loved being in Tahlequah and raising our family in a university community. Darla and I thought how much better it would be to raise our family in a Christian university community. 

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I’ve got the best job anywhere. I love interacting with college students – they are smart and spiritual, they care about important things, they have a zest for life that is contagious, and they are really committed to others. I feel that being around young people helps keep me young, humble, and aware that I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do. And I also love the many other connections I am able to foster – in the community, in church, with the families of our students and potential students, with alumni, and with OC’s faculty and staff. Leading an educational enterprise – especially a private, Christian University – is pretty complicated and difficult. But, connecting with others, seeing lives changed, and influencing the future, the positives dramatically outweigh the difficulties. 

Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?

A: Well, I kind of like to run (but I seem to be getting slower and slower). And, I really love to travel with my wife, Darla. She is a great trip and adventure planner. I also really want to be aware and thoughtful about others in our society who, for whatever reason, have had more difficult paths, greater struggles, or fewer opportunities – I think my faith and my citizenship call me to try and make a difference for others. But I’m not always very good at that. 

Q: What do you like about Edmond?

A: In late 2002, before we moved to Edmond, we were told by former Edmondites that we would love living here. They were right. The people are great – from our neighbors and friends to community leaders in public and private enterprise. Folks are friendly and committed to each other. Our leaders listen and govern well – balancing growth with maintaining infrastructure and a vibrant downtown. How cool is it to live in a vibrant small city that celebrates public art and regular gatherings like Heard on Hurd? (Thank you Jill and Citizens!) I can’t think of a better place for a private Christian University that punches above its weight to be located! 

Q: What is your number one tip for other professionals, either for work or life in general?

A: I think my most valuable and important nugget of advice – be very slow in sharing advice especially with folks who aren’t asking for it! 

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of Backslash Creative. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.