Dr. Jason Eliot, Assistant Professor, Department of Management
What is your background?
I am a born and bred Oklahoman. My family moved to Edmond over 40 years ago, and I am a product of Edmond public schools where I graduated from Edmond Memorial back when it was good old Edmond High School—Go Bulldogs! It has been fun to see both my kids go through Edmond schools and attend Memorial as well.
I went to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where I was a dual major in Economics and Political Science with a minor in History. While at Westminster, I was awarded a scholarship through the Institute of European Studies to live and study in London, England. That experience really brought home for me the importance of exposing our students to different cultures through study abroad—a transformative learning experience before we were even talking about transformative learning.
I went on to graduate from Washington and Lee University Law School in Virginia, where I met my wife. We moved back to Oklahoma, where I practiced employment law with a firm in Oklahoma City. I did that for a few years before joining INTEGRIS Health as an in-house attorney. Over the course of the next almost 20 years, I held many different roles at INTEGRIS and ended my career there as the System Chief Experience and Talent Officer, VP of Human Resources and Community Wellness.
Tell me how you first got involved at UCO.
Teaching has always been my passion. I have taught in every stage of my life in one way or another: as a graduate assistant, an adjunct professor, Sunday School classes, and many national seminars. In the spring of 2018, after many conversations with my wife, I decided it was time to leave INTEGRIS and to turn my passion into my profession. I reached out to some people I knew at UCO and asked about how I could make a transition. Fortunately for me, they had a couple of one year visiting professor positions available. I applied and was selected to begin in August of 2018. People at both UCO and INTEGRIS thought I was crazy to leave my job for just a one-year appointment, but I really felt like it was time to begin this new stage in life. A year later, I was fortunate enough to be selected for a tenure track role and last month began my fourth year at UCO. I honestly believe I am living my dream. UCO has been extremely good to me, and I am very thankful for the opportunities I have been given. I am so appreciative of the university, that I trusted UCO with my daughter as a student, now in her sophomore year.
What would you say your strongest beliefs are about your contributions to the university?
Everyone at UCO brings something special to their job. A few of the areas I contribute to are related to my past experiences. First, my 21 years in the corporate world, gives me a perspective which allows me to, in some ways, help students bridge theory to practical application. I will never be as academically strong as some of my colleagues, who I respect tremendously for their accomplishments, but I can complement them by giving our students a different perspective. In my opinion, they are definitely better off for being exposed to both.
Second, my time living in London and passion for study abroad has allowed me to step right in and join the London, Dublin, and Belfast Study Tour that was created by Dr. Randy Ice and has been jointly led by the College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts for over 20 years. While the pandemic created a pause in this experience, we are diligently planning for a return trip in May 2022, and I am getting excited.
Finally—and maybe the place that I most enjoy—is my partnership with the College of Business’s 2B Leaders program. This program was started by Dr. Holly Osburn 8 years ago and brings together some of the best students in the College of Business. The program provides them with many opportunities to enhance their leadership skills and prepare them to enter the professional world. This is my 3rd year to support the program, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with what truly are some of the best students UCO has to offer, like UCO HR’s own Sydney Wood. Part of what makes UCO unique is the way it encourages each faculty member to find their own way to contribute to the university and to impact their students in transformative ways. I am thankful I have been given the opportunity to partner with some long-standing programs in the College while enhancing them with my own experiences.
What do you do when you are not working?
About the same time I left the corporate world and joined UCO, my wife and I started a farm called Red Buffalo Farm (shameless plug – like and follow us on Facebook). We have approximately 50 chickens, a horse, a donkey named Bentley (thanks to my friend Dr. Lee Tyner), 4 cats, 3 dogs, and, most importantly, about 40 Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats. We have around 15 acres of land east of I-35 where we raise our animals and grow some fruits and vegetables. Over the last 3 years, I have delivered over 50 baby goats. We milk our goats every morning (by machine not hand!) and my wife uses the milk to make goat’s milk soaps. Many people who were raised on a farm look at what we are doing and see “work,” but my wife and I are convinced it is extending our lives! We have farm days every spring when our goat kids are still small, and this year we even had a goat yoga session. So, if you want to come bottle feed a baby goat, keep an eye open for our next farm day. Also, I enjoy watching sports (Roll Chos), live theater (go see the UCO MT production of Rent in early October), reading (mostly non-fiction though I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan), and learning new things (like how to deliver a baby goat)!