Mark Kinders, Vice President for Public Affairs

Mark Kinders, Vice President for Government Relations

A 36-year veteran of public higher education and the media, Mark Kinders joined Central as vice president for public affairs in January 2012 from his previous position as the vice president for university relations at Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Kinders joined NSU in 2008 after serving as director of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls (UWRF) since 1985.

At UCO, he is responsible for state and federal government relations, as well as business and community outreach. While at UCO, he was the cabinet liaison to guide the institutional strategic planning process that developed a 7-year plan, Vision 2020.

Kinders represents UCO as a member of the executive board of the Economic Development Council for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Additionally, he assists the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) in developing advocacy messages.

While at NSU, Kinders guided the institution through an integrated branding and marketing campaign and constructed a comprehensive state and federal relations program to complement grants activities and pursue federal directed funding.

Kinders also served on a Northeast Oklahoma regional planning group of more than 60 partners that recently completed its fifth annual summit to address economic development, environmental stewardship and social issues in a 14-county area. He chaired the Common Vision, Common Voice regional action team that determined the regional association's organizational structure for implementing its 14-county plan, establishing a state and federal public policy agenda, and determining a regional branded identity.

At UWRF, Kinders led the efforts to recruit the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp to the campus for a run that lasted 18 years. Additionally, he was instrumental in founding the St. Croix Valley Regional Alliance, a bi-state organization engaging 19 communities in six counties in tourism marketing and promotion. UWRF was recognized nationally by the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education (CASE) for that community relations project. At UWRF, he was recognized as a "Chamber Champion" to the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and was a founding member and served on the board of directors of Leadership River Falls for seven years.

Nationally, Kinders is actively engaged in the American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU) which educates 3.5 million students at 410 institutions and systems. He has served the association as chair of its Advisory Council on Communications and Public Affairs. He represents AASCU institutions on the task force for the National Higher Education Government Relations Conference (HEGRC) that includes AASCU, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and CASE. He chaired the task force for the HEGRC 2014 national conference.

He also is appointed as an AASCU representative to the Voluntary System of Accountability, which is a public accountability tool for AASCU and APLU institutions. Kinders also served as a a member of the editorial board for AASCU's national magazine, Public Purpose.

Prior to his service at UWRF, Kinders spent ten years as a reporter and editor with the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune and the Decatur (Ill.) Herald and Review, both owned by Lee Newspapers.

He holds a bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois, a master's in history from UWRF, and a master's of public affairs through the Executive Program at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Kinders is a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at the University of Arkansas. He is also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

He is married to Linda Bowlby-Kinders. They have three sons: Christian, who is a quality control officer with Bayer Industries in Kansas City; Casey, who is a 1st Lieutenant and U.S. Marine Corps aviator; and Matthew, who is an English as a second language teacher in Thailand.