McAlester resident and retired Oklahoma Chief Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Taylor will be sworn in as a member of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on May 20 by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Kauger. His appointment by Gov. Kevin Stitt was recently confirmed by both the Senate Education Committee and the full Senate.
“We welcome Steven Taylor to the State Regents,” said State Regents’ chair Jay Helm. “We know Regent Taylor’s experiences and expertise will greatly benefit the state system of higher education and Oklahoma students. He recognizes the integral role of our public colleges and universities in moving our state forward.”
Taylor will serve a nine-year term that expires in May 2028. He replaces John Massey, who recently completed three consecutive terms on the board after 27 years of service.
“We look forward to Regent Taylor’s contributions to our work as we remain focused on increasing degree completion to meet our state’s business and industry workforce needs,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “His lifetime of dedicated leadership serving the citizens of Oklahoma will be invaluable.”
Taylor joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970 and served on active duty from 1974-78. He was trained as an infantry platoon commander and later served as a prosecutor and chief defense counsel. He was promoted to the rank of major in 1977, becoming the youngest judge in the U.S. armed services. Following active duty, he practiced law in McAlester from 1978-84, and in 1980, was elected to the McAlester City Council. He was elected mayor of McAlester in 1982.
He was appointed by former Gov. George Nigh in 1984 as an associate district judge for Pittsburg County, and in 1991 he was the first associate district judge ever to be elected president of the Oklahoma Judicial Conference. In 1994, he was elected district judge of the 18th Judicial District and in 1997 and 2003 was elected presiding judge of the 10-county East-Central Judicial Administrative District.
Taylor presided over the Oklahoma City bombing trial while serving as District Judge for Pittsburg and McIntosh counties before former Gov. Brad Henry appointed him to the Supreme Court.
Before retiring from the judiciary, he served on the Oklahoma State Supreme Court from 2004 until 2017 and was chief justice from 2011-13.
“I look forward to working with my fellow State Regents, the Chancellor, the Governor, and legislators to continue strengthening Oklahoma’s higher education system,” Taylor said. “I am committed to ensuring our college and university campuses produce the skilled, competitive graduates our workforce requires today and into the future.”
Regent Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University (OSU) and a juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Law. He is the only individual to have received the highest alumni awards granted by OSU and OU. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and heads the Puterbaugh Foundation. He also has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education is a nine-member constitutional board that coordinates all 25 public higher education institutions in Oklahoma. The board prescribes academic standards of higher education, determines functions and courses of study at state colleges and universities, grants degrees, makes budget requests to the Legislature, allocates funding for each college and university, recommends proposed fees within limits set by the Legislature and manages numerous scholarships and special programs. State regents are appointed by the governor for nine-year terms.