MIAMI, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma A&M regents on Thursday chose an official who works for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education as the next president of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.

Oklahoma A&M regents voted unanimously to hire Jeffery Hale as the top officer at the two-year school in Miami. Hale now works as the associate vice chancellor of administration for the state regents. He earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

He will begin his duties at NEO on Jan. 15. He will replace Glenn Mayle, who stepped down Oct. 1 after serving as NEO's president since January 1998.

Hale said he believes "that the best years for the college lie ahead."

Tom Poole will continue to serve NEO's interim president until Hale takes office, then serve as a special assistant to the president until March 1.

"Without a doubt, Dr. Hale was the most qualified," said Doug Burns, the chairman of the Oklahoma A&M regents board. "The board is very excited about the future of NEO."

The other four finalists for the job were Sylvia Burgess, the associate vice president for academic affairs at Cameron University in Lawton; Peggy Dumas Dyer, the provost for the West Campus of Tulsa Community College; Timothy Faltyn, the assistant vice president of academic affairs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City; and Dale Patterson, a former NEO administrator and football coach and the current assistant director of football operation at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

The Oklahoma A&M regents board oversees two two-year colleges, NEO and Connors State College in Warner, along with Oklahoma State, Langston University and Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

The regents board will hold a regularly scheduled meeting on Friday on the NEO campus.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.