The first American Indian to be named Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

In 2014, Oklahoma State University appointed Gary Sandefur Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. He returned home to Oklahoma, from the University of Wisconsin where he served as Dean of Letters and Science and was a Professor of Sociology.

Sandefur, a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation, was the first American Indian to be named Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to this position, Sandefur served many roles at the university, including Professor of Sociology, Associate Vice Chancellor, Interim Provost and Director of the American Indian Studies Program.

"There is a general awareness among not just the Chickasaw leadership, but among the Chickasaw people that getting an education and going as far as you can prepares you to be a better leader in today's world," Sandefur said.

Sandefur obtained his Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Oklahoma, and completed his Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University in 1978.


  • Governor’s Award, State Employee Combined Campaign, 2008
  • Distinguished Alumnus, University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, 2006
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Elected 2003
  • Kellett Mid-Career Research Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2000
  • Ford Foundation Fellowship for Native Americans, 1977-1978
  • Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, January-September 2001
  • Chair, Department of Sociology, September-December 2000
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison, September 1, 1992-June 30, 1996
  • Director, American Indian Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison September 1989-May 1992
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Oklahoma, 1978-1984
  • Associate and Full Professor, Department of Sociology and School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Oklahoma State University