Skip to main content


Dr. Donnie L. Nero, Sr., a Distinguished East Central University Alum, will speak on Feb. 18 as ECU celebrates Black History Month.

His speech, entitled “Walk a Mile ‘N’ My Shoes” will take place at 7 p.m. inside the Estep Multimedia Center of the Bill S. Cole University Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Nero, a 1971 ECU graduate, is President Emeritus of Connors State College. He became the first African American president of a predominately white college or university in the state of Oklahoma when he assumed leadership of the Warner campus in 2000.

He was a secondary school teacher and administrator in Sapulpa for 12 years, as he coached baseball, served as school counselor and was a junior high principal. He was as program analyst for Rockwell International in Tulsa for two years before returning to Sapulpa Public Schools as an assistant principal at the high school.

Nero held numerous positions for 15 years, including provost, at Tulsa Community College’s Southeast Campus, before becoming the 15th president at Connors State.

In 2002, Nero received the Department of Human Services Trailblazer Award, was named ECU’s Distinguished Alumnus and was selected as the Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished CEO for the Oklahoma/Arkansas Region. He also delivered the 2002 commencement speech at ECU.

He also received the 2007 Progressive Award and has served as a board member of the Office of Juvenile Affairs and Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. Nero has also served on the Governor’s CLASS Task Force and the Oklahoma Community Institute.

In 2010, ECU inducted Nero into the Gene and Evelyn Keefer Educator’s Hall of Fame. Nero was inducted into both the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2011.

He retired from higher education in 2011 after 38 years in the field. Nero and his wife Shirley Ballard Nero live in Clearview, Okla.

Nero earned a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation at ECU and both his master’s degree in educational administration and his doctorate in occupational and adult education at Oklahoma State University.

He has been president of the Muskogee Area Educational Consortium, Indian Capital Technology Center and Muskogee Rotary Club. Nero also served on the boards of the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce, Greater Muskogee Development Corporation, Tulsa Area United Way, Volunteer Center of Tulsa, Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and Big Brothers and Sisters of Tulsa.

Share this post