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Dean Melinda Cro, Ph.D.
Dr. Melinda Cro

Regents name Cro dean of College of Arts and Sciences

Friday, April 26, 2024

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

Oklahoma State University has named Dr. Melinda Cro as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Friday, the OSU/A&M Board of Regents approved Cro, who is currently the assistant dean of student success, engagement and undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University.

“I am looking forward to working collaboratively to build on the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary strengths of the College of Arts and Sciences to shape a community of connection and belonging,” Cro said. “That focus on engagement, both locally and globally defined, must be accessible and will serve as an economic engine to meet the needs of the state of Oklahoma and its citizens.

“My goal is that the College of Arts and Sciences will serve as the preeminent example of what such a college can accomplish and bring in the context of the land-grant institution.”

Cro will begin her tenure as CAS dean in July, replacing the college’s interim dean, Dr. Keith Garbutt. Garbutt will return to his post as dean of the Honors College this fall.

“I’ve said countless times that CAS is the heart of OSU, and I have no doubt Dr. Cro will keep it going strong,” Garbutt said. “Her extensive experience, vision for the future and love of the land-grant mission have proven to us that she will be a successful leader of the university’s largest college.”

A University of Georgia graduate, Cro is a digital humanist and early modernist with a Ph.D. in romance languages. She is a tenured professor of modern languages who served in successive leadership roles during her time at KSU, including graduate program director and head of the Department of Modern Languages.

“My experiences have afforded me an opportunity to work collaboratively across a large land-grant institution with a range of stakeholders, internal and external, to achieve strategic priorities while understanding the complexities of change management,” Cro said. “I have spent most of my education and academic career at public land-grant research universities, and I understand the crucial role that Oklahoma State plays within the state, across the region, and around the globe.

“OSU has an outward facing mission to support its communities and the world through its teaching, research and Extension.” 

Finding a new CAS dean involved a national candidate search, with three finalists coming to Stillwater for interviews and presentations in February.

“During her interview, I was impressed with Dr. Cro’s discussion of how extensively she collaborated with department heads at her current institution,” OSU Vice Provost Chris Francisco said. “I know she will find a group of department heads in CAS that is eager to work together with her to strengthen the college and fulfill our land-grant mission.”

OSU Provost Jeanette Mendez added her enthusiasm for hiring Cro, noting the “significant support [Cro received] from the many individuals and groups involved in the interview process.”

“President Shrum and I are confident we succeeded in identifying the administrator best suited to lead the College of Arts and Sciences as the college aligns its strategic vision with the university’s strategic plan, and ensures all faculty, staff, students, alumni and external partners have a voice in the process,” Dr. Mendez said. “We look forward to Dr. Cro joining the OSU leadership team.” 

Cro is the first female dean of the college to serve in a full-time, non-interim capacity. She will lead 24 departments, 650 faculty, 200 staff and nearly 7,000 students.

“CAS is particularly well-positioned to help chart the potential and power of higher education as an economic and intellectual engine serving the needs of the state and its communities,” Cro said. “The mission of the college within the frame of the land-grant institution is unique, creating opportunities for translating the foundational research and teaching into applied opportunities for engagement where knowledge is co-created with the communities served.” 

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