“My passion [is to see] Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream become a reality ‘that men and women are no longer judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character’…and Jesus’ commission to his disciples…. ‘the world will know you are my disciples by your love you have for one another,” Dr. Doretha O’Quinn said.
For the last three and a half years, O’Quinn has held the position of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Vanguard. She began in education as an elementary school teacher, working her way up to principle before transitioning into being a college professor. From there she became program director, Associate Dean, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, and finally her current position as Provost.
“I am indeed grateful to God for the progression of my academic career through an unplanned, yet God-ordained progressive plan,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn’s work as Chief Diversity Officer is something that she is particularly proud of accomplishing, especially with growing up as an African- American woman in the South during segregation and with the North being divided by social class.
“I believe my work with diversity and seeking a more equitable and loving society was a direct result of growing up in the segregated South,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn’s experience with ministry is not limited to working at a Christian University and speaking in chapels. According to O’Quinn, she has much experience as a Sunday school teacher and a youth pastor.
“My love for students is truly what has shaped my life, whether young students to graduate adults…I was the second oldest grandchild and was required to be the care provider for the younger cousins [and] family friends’ children…I babysat over 10-15 kids on the weekends. I wasn’t that much older, but [I] was responsible,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn has also spent a great deal of time traveling and preaching around the world. Throughout her life, she has been a missionary to Panama, Central America, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, and over fifteen other places.
She has spoken in women’s conferences, taught government officials and NGO leaders, served on both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Director’s for different colleges and churches, and has been the national keynote speaker for multiple organizations.
While working on these ministries and obligations, O’Quinn has experienced one significant challenge.
“It’s very hard for me to stay on schedule [even] for meetings, [I] really need discipline in this area,” O’Quinn said. According to O’Quinn, despite simply not having enough time to invest in the life of each individual Vanguard student, she loves speaking to them at chapels and going to student events when her schedule allows it.
One of her favorite aspects of her job as provost, is preaching to and teaching students when she is able.
Students enjoy hearing O’Quinn speak for chapel because of how energetic and impactful her messages are. She accredits her impact to her mother and her Big Mama, O’Quinn’s name for her grandmother.
“They modeled the reward for hard word, spiritual conviction, and matriarchal wisdom,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn spoke about the hardships with her position of Provost, sometimes she is faced with unexpected or difficult decisions. According to O’Quinn those situations get harder when they have a direct impact on others.
“It’s during those moments I value the power of prayer and God’s wisdom,” O’Quinn said.
According to O’Quinn, despite the difficulties with her position, she loves what she does and working with people. She especially values the faculty and her colleagues such as President Beals who all want to build a stronger university for Vanguard. It is those relationships that help her most with being a leader.
“Leadership can be hard and lonely, but I develop external networks that are rewarding and affirming,” O’Quinn said.