Cowley College board limits presidential search to two finalists

June 6, 2022

With current Cowley College President Dr. Dennis C. Rittle’s last day set for July 9, the College’s Presidential Selection Committee has narrowed the search for his replacement. The two finalists for the presidential position are Tony Crouch and Dr. Randy Smith.

Crouch will tour Cowley College campuses and facilities on Wednesday, June 22, and Dr. Smith will do the same on Thursday, June 23 on the following schedule:

8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Campus tours (all Cowley locations)
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch with the Board of Directors (Short Community Room, Sumner Campus)
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Open forum for employees and the community (Wright Room and live stream at:
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Private dinner with the Board of Directors (Wright Room)
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Face-to-face meeting with the Board of Directors in executive session (Room Wright)

Biographies of the finalists:

Tony Crouch
Tony Crouch is Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Since January 2022, he is also the acting president of the College. During his tenure at Southwestern, Crouch helped the College strengthen its financial footing. In 2021, by achieving operational efficiencies and encouraging a culture of financial discipline, Crouch helped the College achieve its first budget surplus in many years. Crouch was also instrumental in securing an $11.66 million financial package through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Lending Program. to build a new residence, with construction expected to begin in 2022.

A native of Alva, Oklahoma, Crouch began his career in the private sector at Conoco, Inc. He developed professional skills as an accountant and tax analyst, eventually becoming a senior accounting analyst at Conoco. In 1994 Crouch then seized the opportunity to work in higher education at Cowley County Community College and in doing so found his true calling. Since then, he has accumulated almost 30 years of experience in higher education. He has worked in two- and four-year institutions and has leadership experience in public and private institutions.

Crouch served as chief financial officer at five institutions, including 15 years as executive vice president of business services at Cowley College, where he also served for a period as acting athletic director, as well as serving twice as of interim president.

During his career, Crouch has been responsible for areas such as budget, accounting, financial services, contract management, human resources, transportation, information technology, financial aid, projects construction and maintenance. He was instrumental in the construction of the Webb-Brown Center, Central Avenue Dormitory, Travis Hafner Training Center, among others, and several renovation projects on the Arkansas City campus of Cowley College, as well as their facilities in Mulvane. It has consistently achieved operational savings while simultaneously improving or increasing the services provided.

Crouch received a Master of Science in Leadership from Southwestern College in 2014 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Oklahoma. It is currently planned to begin a doctorate in educational leadership at Southwestern College in the fall of 2022.

When he’s not working, Crouch enjoys spending time with his family and volunteering at his church, where he leads Sunday School discussions and writes. In 2021, Crouch published his first book, “Letting God’s Word Speak”. Crouch also volunteers as a board member of Big Brother Big Sisters of Cowley County and is currently president of the organization. He and his wife have five adult children and nine grandchildren. The Crouchs love animals, they have four cats, three dogs, two miniature horses and a chicken.

Dr. Randy Smith
Dr. Randy SmithDr. Randy Smith is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma. He has been involved in higher education for over 26 years. He has served as a faculty member, dean, vice president of academic affairs, and president of the College. He is currently Director of Program Development and Emergency Management and Special Advisor to the Leader of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

He served as president of the largest rural college organization in the United States, which included political work in DC and countless on-the-ground training and counseling for rural colleges. Dr. Smith is a regular speaker at state and national conferences on the topics of higher education leadership and rural college student recruitment and retention, as well as economic development and the workforce. working in rural communities.

He has testified before committees of the US House of Representatives and Senate as an expert on issues concerning rural higher education. He was an invited participant at the White House Summit on Community Colleges and was a member of the Commission on Community Colleges for the 21st Century, tasked with developing a long-term strategic plan for community colleges nationwide. He also facilitated the first-ever memorandum of understanding between a higher education organization and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Smith facilitated the inclusion of rural community colleges in the Federal Farm Bill, the first rural colleges were specifically included in federal legislation. He was appointed for three years to the advisory board of America’s College Promise, which looks after national higher education costs. His true passion is helping colleges retain students to completion and he has developed training programs to help colleges with all aspects of enrollment management. He has also developed a board training program titled Roles and Responsibilities of Rural College Boards and teaches this program across the country.

Dr. Smith enjoys serving in the community and has held a number of positions including chairman of the board of directors of a rural county hospital district, volunteer firefighter and paramedic, member of a municipal police commission and a member of the board of directors of a regional chapter of the American Red Cross. He is currently a Certified Law Enforcement Officer and has been for over 14 years. He served as a police officer in his rural community for many years. He was also a judge for the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas, and he coaches rodeo queens and competitors from across the country. Her daughter Emily was Miss Rodeo Oklahoma State titleholder.

Dr. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in emergency health services administration and a Ph.D. in leadership in higher education. He also completed the Educator Leadership Academy at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is a recipient of the USDA Lincoln Honor Award, (for his work with colleges and rural communities), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Department of Agriculture.

He and his wife Dora have horses and cattle near Seminole, Oklahoma. Their daughter Emily is a sophomore student athlete at Northwestern Oklahoma State University where she is majoring in music education. She is an accomplished track athlete and is a member of the NWOSU Track and Cross Country teams.

Dr. Smith enjoys rodeo, ranching, working with horses, playing and coaching basketball, powerlifting, golf, community service as a law enforcement officer, and all outdoor activities air. His favorite activity is simply being outside on his horse.

Rama Peru

Director of Corporate Communications and Public Relations
Cowley College
125 2nd Street South
Arkansas City, KS 67005

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