Dr. J. Patrick O’Brien
President of West Texas A&M University
Dr. J. Patrick O’Brien was named the 10th president of West Texas A&M University by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Feb. 21, 2006. He hit the ground running May 15, familiarizing himself with the area’s people and programs, initiating a review of the University’s strategic plan and overseeing an academic realignment that, among other things, created a new College of Nursing and Health Sciences.
O’Brien came to WTAMU from Loyola University New Orleans, where he served as dean of the College of Business Administration and professor of economics beginning in 1995. Under his leadership, endowments and the number of endowed chairs and professorships increased significantly, and the college was ranked seventh in the nation by The Princeton Review for providing opportunities to minority students.
A native of Tennessee, O’Brien earned baccalaureate (economics) and master’s (agricultural economics) degrees from Auburn University in 1967 and 1969, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in economics with areas of specialization in monetary economics, public finance and regional economics from Oklahoma State University in 1977.
O’Brien started his career in academia as an instructor at OSU before accepting positions as an assistant professor of economics at Bowling Green State University (1974-1977) and then at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
He remained at UAF until 1991, leaving his position as professor and head of the Department of Economics to accept a dean’s appointment with the College of Commerce and Business Administration at Jacksonville State University (1991-1995).
O’Brien received outstanding faculty awards at UAF and Loyola New Orleans and is active in civic and professional organizations. O’Brien is a member of the NCAA DII Presidents Council and is Chair of the Council of Presidents for the Lone Star Conference. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors.
Locally, he serves on the boards of the Northwest Texas Healthcare System, Harrington Regional Medical Center, United Way—Amarillo/Canyon, the TEXAS Heritage Foundation and the Palo Duro Reclamation Foundation.
In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, golf, amateur astronomy and reading.
The O’Briens have two adult sons and three grandchildren.
J. Patrick O’Brien, Ph.D.
West Texas A&M University