Student letters addressed to Dr. Patricia Okker
Letters from New College students to their former president. Photo courtesy of Nickolas Steinig

Student letters addressed to Dr. Patricia Okker

Current students were invited to submit open, unsigned letters to Dr. Patricia Okker, for initial “delivery” via publication in the Catalyst. The full text of each submission appears below.

Dear former president Okker,

I am sorry to hear about your termination. I sincerely hope that you are feeling proud of all that you have aspired & have done while at New College. We, as students, appreciate you standing up for us and this school. I love New College and deeply thank you for your hard work to secure funding for us, support, & for trying to help us save this school that we love. 

Dear Dr. Okker,

Not a lot of people can come into a place like New College, populated as it is with free thinkers and individuals, and come out the other side regarded well and respected by its numerous and ideologically diverse groups. Yet, you did. Students, faculty, and staff will miss your reassuring presence and direct interactive leadership style. I saw you pull up a chair to speak to student protesters. I saw you join powerlifters and row in a line. I saw you advocate for resolutions for administration even when it wasn’t popular. For your integrity and pioneering spirit, you will be remembered as one of the best presidents we’ve ever had. I’m sorry that petty politics brought your time here to a premature close. May you go forward and achieve great things. 

Hi Dr. Patricia Okker!

You probably can’t stick a face to my name as we’ve only talked once, but all the love and care you put in this school I’ll remember forever. Towards the beginning of your tenure here, I talked to you when you were having lunch in Ham center. At first, I was intimidated, as I had never casually talked to an educator or principal before, and I was a first-year with nary a clue what to expect. But after talking with you and having you inquire about my experiences over lunch, it felt like I was talking with a friend and it was nice to know that you, in such a prestigious position as president, took the time to get to know the student body and work with us on issues we care about, big and small. You’ve done so much for me and for us. Just know in your short time at New College you’ve changed our world for the better. Never change Dr. Okker. Never hide your light under that bush, always let it shine, just as you did at New College.  

Dear Dr. Okker,

I am a student at New College. I wasn’t here when you were first selected as president, but I have heard from other students about the good you did for this college, and I wanted to thank you for it. Additionally, on a more personal note, I wanted to thank you for the lunches in Ham that you went to throughout the previous semester. It was very inspiring to see that our president genuinely cared about the students, and I am extremely grateful for your work here. 

Dear Dr. Okker,

We don’t know each other personally, but I’ve always been proud to recognize you as New College’s first female president. That is a title nobody can take from you! You’ve left a lasting impact on us all. So, truly, thank you for everything you’ve done. 

To Dr. Okker,

I wanted to say that your hard work for this campus did not go unnoticed. I would say that a majority of students on campus had interactions with you, something that is not common of college presidents. It is evident that you cared about New College and improving it. I personally attended two meetings with you in my first year. One where we talked about improving academics and another about club life. When you attended these meetings with students, you listened to us and worked to implement our suggestions. I’m sorry that you were used as a pawn in this bigger game. I wish you nothing but the best in the future. Take it easy, and thank you for your time. 

Dear Pat Okker,

We love you and thank you for standing up for us and thinking for us. In your short time as president, you did so much for the students and it’s horrible that you had to leave, but understandable. I can say very easily that your final words to New College were both powerful and moving. Hopefully, those words will live on in the minds and hearts of the students trying to fight back for educational freedom. I hope they won’t forget, just like I won’t. You’ve continued to empower and inspire students even as you left before they could force you out. Thank you for everything you’ve done and for thinking of the students. 

Dear President Okker,

I know your time at NCF was cut short. But in that time frame, we started to see a lot of positive change come incredibly quickly. This year, we had a notably high incoming group of freshmen. The campus seemed more alive than ever. I’m sure that, with a little more time, we could have seen a great era at NCF. Even if your time was cut short, I’m proud to have been a student under your leadership.

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