Alumni Spotlight: Jerome Loughridge (BA, ’95)
Since leaving Baylor, Jerome Loughride’s (BA,’ 95) career path has been anything but linear. Having held key positions in higher education, private equity, the energy sector, and public service, Loughridge credits his time as a University Scholar for helping him to succeed in vastly different lines of work and leadership--and to do so with a grounded understanding of his calling.
“My time at Baylor gave me the intellectual dexterity to do whatever was set in front of me,” Loughridge said. “Narrow training might get you a job, but it won’t help you progress throughout your career. My liberal arts education allowed me to have an interdisciplinary life, which has been very rich and rewarding.”
Loughridge, who now serves as the CEO of the Innovation Foundation and Senior Vice President for System Operations at Oklahoma State University, began his career in higher education at Baylor serving as the Chief of Staff for President Robert Sloan, and he played unique role in the creation of the Honors College.
“I had the privilege of serving Dr. Sloan when the Baylor 2012 vision was laid out, which conceived and called for the creation of the Honors College” Loughridge said. “There had been the components for years, but there had not been that discreet, actual Honors College. So, in some respects, I feel a humble ownership in the initiation of it back in the very early 2000s.”
For Loughridge, those early insights into the creation of the Honors College have made serving as an Advisory Council member even more rewarding.
“I have the benefit of knowing the Honors College when it was nothing but a paragraph on a page," Loughridge said. “To see the faculty that have joined alongside the College to make the vision a reality has been stunning. I would put the Baylor Honors College experience on par with the very finest education in the country, and I’m convinced its best days are to come. I’m thrilled I get to be a part of it in a small way.”
In addition to his degree from Baylor, Loughridge is also a Harvard-educated Truman Scholar and at the age of 51 is embarking on a philosophy degree from Oxford.
“I absolutely love to learn,” Loughridge said. “As an undergraduate student watching two of my mentors, Dr. Robert Reid and Dr. James Vardaman, they were always reading and always learning and undertaking new modes of education, and they didn’t have to be spending their time that way. Their dedication to learning left a mark on me, and so now I’m spending my spare time writing philosophy papers.”
Although Loughridge’s career has taken him from the White House to Wall Street to serving as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Health and Mental Health during COVID-19, he still finds the most joy in helping the public any way he can.
“If there is one thing that Baylor does well, it is helping students find their vocation, and for me, that primary calling has been to service,” Loughridge said. “In different seasons of my life that has looked like working with various organizations or serving as a local school board member, but I always try and stay engaged because a life well lived involves service to others.”
Outside of work, Loughridge enjoys connecting with the college students on campus and encouraging them to make the most of their college experience.
“When I meet with students, I give them almost a desperate plea to take these four years and learn how to think,” Loughridge. “My challenge for students is to cast aside what they think their career path might be and try something new once a semester. You will never regret getting outside of your comfort zone because you never know where life might take you.”
Today, Loughridge and his wife, Tricia, have two sons and live in Oklahoma.