Mark Kinders, a 31-year veteran of public higher education, is Vice President for Public Affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma, serving the 1.5 million residents of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. His responsibilities include federal, state, business, and community relations. As a member of the Cabinet, he is involved in all substantive decisions for the university on academic programs, budgeting, facilities, student affairs, and communications. He also provides legislative advocacy support to the Board of Regents for the six campuses of the Regional University System of Oklahoma. He is UCO’s representative to and a member of the executive committee of the Economic Development Council of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Previously he served as Vice President for University Relations at Northeastern State University. At NSU he oversaw community, state and federal relations; media relations and communications; internal and external marketing; and the NSU Foundation and Alumni Association. He came to NSU in 2008 after serving as Director of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls since 1985. He was recognized as a “Wisconsin Idea Fellow” by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents for his economic development and outreach efforts in forming the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance and chairing an NFL Search Committee that successfully recruited the Kansas City Chiefs to UWRF for Summer Training Camp for 18 years. He was among 100 faculty and staff selected from 32,000 employees in the UW System to receive this signal award.
Prior to his service in public higher education, Dr. 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.
With a long history of community and public service to his credit, Dr. Kinders specializes in facilitating groups into start-up, expanding their influence, guiding strategic planning, and assisting in facilitated decision-making. Among those he has assisted are the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance in Minnesota and Wisconsin (strategic planning), the Western Wisconsin Intergovernmental Collaborative (incorporation), The Phipps Center for the Arts (strategic planning), the University of Wisconsin System (legislative strategies), the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (marketing plan), Alexandria Community College (automated manufacturing student recruitment plan), Northeastern State University (sustainability objectives; communications plan); the Northeastern Oklahoma Regional Alliance (organizational structure, legislative strategies); UCO (institutional strategic plan Vision 2020, Alumni Association strategic plan); and the Central Oklahoma STEM Alliance (education start-up).
During his time at UCO he has served as inaugural president of COSTEMA, a collaboration that seeks to improve K-12 STEM education to 150,000 school children in nine school districts in Oklahoma and Logan counties, to include Oklahoma City and Edmond public schools. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he co-chaired with Oklahoma Veterans Department Major Gen. Miles Deering (Retired) a statewide task force empaneled by Governor Mary Fallin to review and offer recommendations to improve health care access for Oklahoma’s 337,000 veterans.
At the national level, Dr. Kinders is actively engaged in the American Association of State Colleges & Universities, which educates 3.5 million students at 410 institutions. He served the association as chair of its Advisory Council on Communications and Public Affairs and he represented AASCU institutions to the National Task Force on the Higher Education Government Relations Conference, while chairing its 2014 national conference. The task force members represent 15 million students enrolled in public higher education nationally. Dr. Kinders also served as a member of the national editorial advisory board for AASCU’s magazine, “Public Purpose,” and he is an AASCU representative to the national oversight higher education performance accountability board for the Voluntary System of Accountability.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, a Master of Arts in History from UWRF, a Master of Public Affairs through the Executive Program at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas.
Dr. Kinders is married to Linda Bowlby-Kinders. They have three sons whose families include: Christian, a quality control officer with Bayer Industries in Kansas City, daughter-in-law Melinda and granddaughter Caty; Casey, a 1st Lieutenant and U.S. Marine Corps aviator, daughter-in-law Teresa and granddaughter Vivienne; and Matthew, an English teacher in China.