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Dr. John Hays Photo

Former SWOSU President John Hays Passes

Dr. John Hays, president of Southwestern Oklahoma State University from 2001-2010 and a 1969 SWOSU accounting graduate, has passed away.

The Weatherford resident worked 30 years at SWOSU, having served as assistant business manager, comptroller, assistant to the president, vice president for administration and executive vice president for administration before being named president. 

During his years as president, Hays completed the Wellness Center, started/developed the university’s athletic complex and had several major buildings renovated on the Weatherford and Sayre remote locationes. He also was instrumental in the development of a comprehensive marketing campaign for the university and started the President’s Leadership Class.

Hays was very active in community and economic development activities in western Oklahoma. Hays was on the ground floor of many projects such as the Business Development Center at SWOSU, Weatherford Business Incubator program and Weatherford’s hiring of a full-time economic developer.

His involvement in civic activities was many, including Leadership Weatherford, YMCA, Vision 20/20, Weatherford Arts Council, Weatherford’s assisted senior citizen living center and many other projects through the Weatherford Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a past president of the chamber of commerce and did much to unite the chamber of commerce, City of Weatherford and SWOSU. 

Hays was a member of the inaugural class of the Higher Education Leadership Academy and was a member of Leadership Oklahoma.

“He was known as an excellent problem solver and communicator when dealing with people,” said SWOSU President Randy Beutler. “Access and the willingness to listen to a wide variety of views was always part of Hays’ demeanor. The SWOSU community has lost a good person, and I’ve lost a close friend and mentor.”

Wife Linda Hays and family have asked that memorials be made to the SWOSU Foundation, Inc., and designated for the President John Hays Fund. Address is: 100 Campus Drive, Weatherford OK 73096. Gifts may also be made by visiting or by calling 580-774-3267.