Less than one year into his tenure, University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly announced via press release this evening that he will retire. A timeline for his retirement and replacement is not immediately clear, though Gallogly said his exit will occur when the OU Board of Regents has a transition plan in place.
“This has been the most important work of our lives, and it was with great pride that we watched our first class graduate this weekend,” Gallogly said via press release, referencing his wife, Janet.
OU distributed the release announcing the news at 6:25 p.m. on Mother’s Day. The release included lengthy statements from Gallogly and regents Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, which can be found below.
During back-to-back days of regents meetings Thursday and Friday, rumors about Gallogly leaving OU spread. Thursday, the board spent more than five hours in executive session. Gallogly emerged after about 45 minutes, looking somber and telling media he would not be speaking with them “today.” He walked by himself through a third-floor exit of the OU Memorial Union to a parking garage, returning minutes later and spending the rest of the executive session with other administrators in a nearby room.
Friday, the board held its full regular meeting about OU business, and Rainbolt-Forbes introduced Gallogly’s portion of the meeting in a manner that struck onlookers as ominous.
“I really don’t have the words that are adequate to thank you for what you’ve done this year as well and to continue the celebration of that I would like to thank you and from all the board thank you so much for what you do for us on a daily basis,” Rainbolt-Forbes said.
During his presentation, Gallogly emphasized the financial reforms he had undertaken in the past year, citing $47.5 million in savings.
“Our focus has been moving cost savings into competitive salaries for faculty and staff and also keeping tuition flat for our students,” Gallogly said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt released a statement Sunday evening.
“James Gallogly is an upstanding individual who stepped in to lead the University of Oklahoma through a historical financial crisis,” Stitt said. “He hit the ground running, working to deliver efficiencies in order to keep tuition flat for students and casting vision to grow OU’s graduate research programs. Gallogly’s love for his alma mater is evident, and I appreciate the time he gave to strengthen the foundation of this important university. I am confident the OU Board of Regents will make a wise and timely selection to succeed Gallogly.”
Full statement from Jim Gallogly
In early 2018, I participated in the interview process for the position of president of the University of Oklahoma at the request of the Board of Regents. I indicated to them that I did not seek the job but instead wanted to use the opportunity to outline a new path forward for our beloved institution. I suggested that while we had great undergraduate programs, we should make a concerted effort to grow our graduate programs, double research, use our wonderful medical facilities to better serve all of Oklahoma in a hub and spoke concept, and perhaps even expand in the Tulsa region to better serve Northeast Oklahoma. I stated that we could likely find efficiencies in the ways we operate and use those savings to stem the trend of the ever increasing tuition and fees imposed on our students and provide long overdue raises for our faculty and staff. The Regents asked me to come out of retirement, serve our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the state, and implement the plan. I agreed and signed a contract with a blank in the salary space. However, we did not set a term given my age. I began immediately working as a volunteer for the first several months before taking office in July 2018.
As I began preparing the university budget for a June presentation, it became obvious that the Norman campus had been operating at significant losses for the last couple of years, had grown its debt, and had limited cash reserves. We later discovered that gifts and alumni support statistics were significantly over-stated in various filings (though not at our foundation), and that a couple of new housing projects on campus had low occupancy rates and were struggling. Despite these challenges, we have been able to stabilize our financial position, use our cost savings to hold tuition and fees flat, and give the Norman faculty a raise. Our research is growing at a pace to meet my challenge to our faculty to double research in the next five years. Gifts and pledges to our university are up from last year. We are also in the process of answering the call to make our university a more diverse and inclusive place.
While we have made progress, the job has not been completed. We are preparing a FY 20 budget for presentation in June. The hope is to continue to hold tuition flat for our undergraduates so that a great OU education is affordable for all qualified Oklahomans as well as others from our nation and the world who want the hard earned privilege of being called a “Sooner” for life. We also have additional salary increases to implement for our dedicated faculty and staff. The savings realized to date, and the other plans we are working on, should give us the confidence that such is possible.
With this background, I have advised our Board of Regents of my plans to retire once they have a transition plan in place. Janet and I have been honored to serve our university. This has been the most important work of our lives, and it was with great pride that we watched our first class graduate this weekend.
Unfortunately, a false narrative has been created that the explanation of the university’s financial condition, the disclosures of improper gift reporting, and changes to various people serving in the administration were somehow intended to diminish the legacy of our past president. That false narrative is now also being used to question the motives and propriety of the ongoing investigation of alleged misconduct by person(s) yet to be disclosed by the university.
The university was required by law to commence an investigation upon the receipt of complaint(s). That process has been ongoing according to its procedural mandate. The Jones Day law firm was hired to conduct an independent and unbiased, expert investigation and issue a report which the firm has now done. The process also allows for an appeal of findings. The sitting president of the university is normally a part of the Title IX appeals process. Given I am departing, I will not serve in the appellate process role going forward and a third party, yet to be appointed, will take my place.
The important work of putting our university on an improved financial path was done by dedicated faculty and staff with my administration’s assistance. This has been a difficult process for the university community but a necessary one. Even more difficult is the ongoing scrutiny our university is and will receive related to the Title IX process that is not yet complete. There have been no final determinations of innocence or guilt at this point in time. That is important to remember. When there is a determination, that result should not be questioned by suggestions that there were ever any false motives in this legally mandated process. Great care has been taken to ensure a fair, thorough, independent investigation where scores of people were interviewed and thousands of documents reviewed. My departure should clearly demonstrate that there has never been any personal benefit in any outcome. The suggestion that there was ever any ill will in prior factual disclosures was ridiculous when made and the false narrative that continues is now even more untenable.
Janet and I will continue to serve our university in other ways in the future. Our love of the university and its people has only grown this past year. I will always remember running with the Ruff-Neks, jumping out of an airplane with the Black Daggers for the Army football game, sharing the hurt and dismay we all felt as we watched a shameful, racist video, but most of all, shaking the hands of joyous students as they walked across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas. After all, our work is always about our students’ success. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Full statement from Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes
We will respect President Gallogly’s decision to retire as president of the University of Oklahoma. During the presidential search, it became clear we were at a point where we needed a president at OU with a unique set of skills and experiences. We also wanted someone already connected to OU. We knew Jim from his many years of excellent service as a member of the Board of Visitors for both our Engineering and Law schools where his guidance was invaluable. He and his wife Janet were also together one of the largest donors to our university. He loved OU. The Regents asked Jim to come out of retirement to lead our university following a distinguished business career. He did, and we are appreciative because Jim and Janet have given one of the greatest gifts one can ever give to a university, and that is their time.
Jim’s tireless work on behalf of the institution he loves enabled him to accomplish in 12 months a magnitude of work that ordinarily would have taken years. He quickly assembled an excellent team and got straight to work tackling critical issues. He applied his business leadership and acumen to improving the school’s financial discipline and focus on results and effectiveness. Jim’s exhaustive work on our finances has produced $47.5 million in costs savings the past year, which is incredible. As a result, Jim held tuition flat while at the same time granted pay raises to our deserving faculty. Equally important was his dedication and focus on student success and his commitment to making OU more accessible and affordable to more students.
Couple these with his clear-eyed approach to investing in research and the result is forward progress across the institution for which we all should be grateful.
The work he had to do and the decisions he had to make were not always easy, but he made them with great professionalism and personal courage, always with a focus on the best interests of OU. Our university is in a better place today because of Jim. That said, we are pleased he and Janet will remain active in our university community. Jim will continue to serve on the Visitor Boards of our Engineering and Law schools and he will always be a true Sooner to this university.
Background on Jim Gallogly as OU president
Regents appointed Gallogly as OU’s 14th president March 26, 2018. He officially assumed office July 1, announcing a slate of administrative changes and six prominent terminations, including OU’s chief financial officer.
Gallogly also took heat for a dramatic decrease in university donations. The OU Daily reported in February that donor gifts had dropped:
As of Jan. 10, according to an internal office of development memo obtained by The Daily, the university has raised $48,905,322 during fiscal year 2019, which started July 1, 2018. At this point in fiscal year 2018, which started July 1, 2017, the university had raised $82,980,776.
The OU Daily has a timeline of Gallogly’s first six months in office.
(Update: This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. Sunday, May 12, to include additional information about recent regents meetings. It was updated again at 7:24 p.m. to include additional background information and Stitt’s statement.)