Pat Okker (coaching)


Pat Okker

Coaching Philosophy

As a coach, I focus on supporting the courageous and resilient leaders that higher education so desperately needs, and I bring to each coaching relationship the full range of my experience at both a large research university and a small liberal arts college. While I draw on my experience as president, dean, and department chair—including being the target of a nationally publicized takeover—I offer customized coaching designed around the goals of each client.  Committed to partnerships built on trust, I help clients find solutions to immediate needs and chart a path toward long-term professional goals.

Central to my coaching is a belief that higher education has under-invested in leadership development and that this neglect has made it easier to continue the status quo in which many people—women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and others—are seen as “not looking like” academic leaders. But we do not need to accept the status quo: we must invest in ourselves, collectively and individually. 

And if you are wondering “Do I really need a coach?” I ask you to imagine the sporting world without coaches. Would anyone expect elite athletes to perform at their highest level if they had never had a coach?  Why, then, do we assume that academic leaders can reach their full potential without the partnership of a trusted expert focused on helping them thrive as an academic leader in an increasingly challenging world?  

Patricia Okker, Former President, New College of Florida


In 2021 Patricia Okker became the first woman president of New College of Florida (NCF), a top-five public liberal arts college. Under her leadership, NCF increased the size of its incoming class by more than 30% in just one year. In 2023, after just nineteen months in the position, she was fired in a “hostile takeover” of her school. Prior to NCF, she worked at the University of Missouri for more than 30 years, serving as Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Senior Associate Provost, and Chair of the English Department. In these various leadership roles, she led campus-wide initiatives on strategic planning, student success, accreditation, academic program review, fundraising, leadership development, and enrollment management. A fierce advocate for academic freedom, she is a nationally known speaker on issues related to academic leadership and the future of higher education.

Levels Coached: Early-Career Professionals, Executive, President, Chancellor, Mid-Managers, Senior Executives, VP, Provosts, etc.

Industry Experience: Higher Education