Dr. Donnie L. Nero [Outstanding Leadership '17]

Dr. Donnie L. Nero’s distinguished career in education began as a teacher for the Sapulpa Public Schools immediately after earning his 1971 Bachelor of Science degree in education, majoring in health and physical education. He concluded his educational career on June 30, 2011, after 38 years in the field.

His success in public education led him into higher education where he progressed through the ranks at Tulsa Community College to become Provost of the TCC Southeast Campus. He achieved the presidency of Connors State College in 2000, becoming the first African American to become president of a predominately-white college or university in the state of Oklahoma.

While president at Connors State College, Nero served as president of the Oklahoma Council of Two-Year Presidents, and for 11 years, participated in all the Councils’ committees and served as Secretary/Treasurer. He also served as President of the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges. Nero is a founder of the Oklahoma Legal Issues Conference, a graduate of Leadership Tulsa Class XVIII and Oklahoma State Coordinator of the National Association Student Personnel Administrators. In addition, he is a member of the Oklahoma Global Education Consortium, founder of the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame and has served on various boards and committees, spoken at many high school graduations and various functions, chaired many meeting, and traveled thousands of miles for educational purposes.

He has provided leadership to countless students, teachers, administrators, and staff and has been a champion of higher education throughout his many years in Oklahoma education.

Through his guidance, Connors State College experienced record student enrollment and campus renovation and he left Connors with a valuable legacy of academic programs, innovation and growth.

In 2011, the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame inducted Dr. Nero into their Halls of Fame. In addition, in 2010, he founded of the Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame, Inc. and currently is its president. In 2016, he completed two terms as chair of the Office of Juvenile Affairs and is now ending his tenure on the Board.

Dr. Nero is married to Shirley Ballard Nero, a native of Clearview, Oklahoma. They both are retired and now live in Clearview. They have two children and four beautiful grandchildren, D.J and wife Carroll and granddaughter Berlin of La Habra, California and Tanya and Marvin Blades Jr. and grandson Makai and granddaughters Jordan, and Jada of Glenpool, Oklahoma.