With University of Oklahoma President David Boren announcing his retirement plans, the university’s Board of Regents will be tasked with choosing the next OU president.
Despite news of Boren’s departure only beginning to spread in the past few days, speculation about who might replace the storied Oklahoma politician has percolated for years.
Wednesday after his announcement, Boren described the type of candidate he believes would be best suited to be the next OU president.
“I think the number one quality is truly love the university. It (should) not be another job, it not be just a line on the resume. It not be just a stepping stone to somewhere else,” Boren said. “But someone who has a particular feeling for the University of Oklahoma, and that means having had association with the university in some way.
“Even if it was a person who is a long-time faculty member, or someone who is a graduate, or someone who knows this university and truly loves it and has gone on to have experiences elsewhere but is tied to this place, I think that is a great advantage for anyone who comes in.”
Below are five people whose names have surfaced as potential candidates to be the next OU president. The list is neither official nor exhaustive.
Joseph Harroz, Jr. — OU College of Law dean
Harroz has risen in the ranks of OU bureaucracy, eventually becoming the dean of the OU College of Law in 2010. He is also an OU vice president and teaches health care and employment law in the college. In recent years, university insiders have widely discussed his potential as a successor to Boren.
The 50-year-old Harroz worked as legislative director and legal counsel for Boren during his U.S. Senate tenure. Harroz also has a lengthy background running his own financial investment firm and serving on the board of directors for numerous companies and organizations.
Tom Cole — U.S. congressman (Oklahoma 4th district)
Since he was first elected in 2002, Tom Cole has represented Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district, which includes the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus. A moderate Republican with a reputation as one of the state’s top political strategists, Cole holds a Ph.D from the OU History Department.
The 68-year-old Cole is a former state chairman of the Oklahoma Republican party. He also serves on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents.
Dan Boren — (Chickasaw Nation president of corporate development)
David Boren’s son, Dan, is a former U.S. congressman himself from Oklahoma’s 2nd district. Dan held that position from 2005 to 2013 prior to becoming the Chickasaw Nation’s president of corporate development.
The 44-year-old announced after the 2016 general election that he would not run for governor of Oklahoma in 2018. He is finishing a term as the 2017 chairman of the Oklahoma Academy.
Brad Henry — (former governor; attorney with Spencer Fane)
Former Gov. Brad Henry has kept a fairly low profile since leaving office after two terms in 2011. He now works as an attorney for the firm Spencer Fane, and his high-profile wife, Kim, is the executive director of Sarkeys Foundation in Norman.
The 54-year-old Henry served as an Oklahoma State Senator from Shawnee prior to becoming governor, and he holds a law degree from the OU College of Law.
As governor, he oversaw a state budget that increased appropriations for higher education. Still, Oklahoma politicos who believe he accomplished relatively little while in office have scrutinized Henry’s gubernatorial tenure.
Condoleezza Rice — (former secretary of state)
The first black woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice’s name appears as the only non-Oklahoman on this list. As such, she stands as the most unorthodox possibility published here, but NonDoc has heard a rumbling of her consideration.
The university’s Board of Regents is likely to conduct a nation-wide search for the next OU president, and Rice’s broad political, business and education background could stand out for a university seeking to enhance its growing national reputation.
The 62-year-old Rice has been a faculty member at Stanford University and was an inaugural member of the College Football Playoff committee.
(Correction: This post has been updated to note when former Gov. Brad Henry left office. NonDoc regrets the error.)