Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced this afternoon his new appointment to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agriculture & Mechanical Colleges, which oversees Oklahoma State University.
Stitt named Tulsa accountant Anita Holloway to the OU Board of Regents to succeed current Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, who will conclude her two terms spanning 14 years on March 21. She will attend her final OU Board of Regents meetings March 10 and 11.
Stitt named banker Jimmy Harrel to the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents, succeeding the term of Lou Watkins, which ends April 4. That board’s next meeting is scheduled for March 6. Harrel previously served on the State Regents for Higher Education board from 1999 through 2017.
“I am thrilled to appoint two strong leaders and proud Oklahomans to the OU and OSU A&M Board of Regents,” Stitt said in a press release Friday. “Anita is an accomplished accountant and business leader who will bring her professional expertise and passion for OU to the table to support the university’s vision. Jimmy is a successful businessman, agriculture leader and OSU alum who will bring his wealth of experience and commitment to Oklahoma’s students to support the OSU A&M Board of Regents. I have full faith they will serve our universities and state well as we continue to move the needle toward becoming a top-10 state.”
With the appointment of Holloway, Stitt will have appointed four of the seven OU Board of Regents positions. The board is expected to begin the process of selecting the next permanent OU president later this year. Joe Harroz is serving as the interim OU president.
Both appointments will require confirmation by the Oklahoma State Senate, which also must confirm Stitt’s December appointment of Michael Cawley to the OU Board of Regents. None of Stitt’s three prior appointees attended the January meetings of the OU Board of Regents, which included an eight-hour executive session to discuss pending litigation, personnel matters and other governance situations.
“Nothing can change a person’s life more than the opportunities and life experiences gained through education,” Holloway said in the governor’s release. “I am very much looking forward to working with the Board of Regents and the entire University of Oklahoma family to achieve excellence within the University of Oklahoma educational system, and I want to thank Governor Stitt for the opportunity to serve the university.”
A native of Leedy, Harrel holds a bachelor’s degree from OSU.
“I am very excited and humbled that Governor Stitt would ask me to serve on the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents,” Harrel said in the governor’s release. “I look forward to working with the Governor and the A&M Regents to improve higher education and make sure students are ready for their careers. I, along with many of my immediate family members, now my grandson, attended Oklahoma State and it holds a dear place in my heart.”
Leaders comment on Holloway, Harrel
In the press release distributed by Stitt’s office Friday, Harroz praised the selection of Holloway, who is the office managing partner of Ernst & Young LLP’s Tulsa office.
“Governor Stitt’s appointment of Anita Holloway to the OU Board of Regents serves the University well into the future. She is a valued and generous supporter of OU and our mission, having served in a variety of advisory roles. She is also an esteemed Oklahoman who prioritizes our state’s interests, and her service to our flagship university will be critical during this pivotal time. We will benefit greatly from her leadership and counsel. I look forward to working with her to advance our important work.” – OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr.
The two leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature praised Harrel.
“Jimmy Harrel is a fixture of banking, farming and ranching in Oklahoma, and a loyal and true supporter of Oklahoma State University,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC). “He’s an ardent supporter of both higher education and common education. I know he will do a great job as a regent for OSU, and I congratulate him on this appointment.”
“Jimmy Harrel has been a driving force in Oklahoma agriculture, finance and beyond for his whole life,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, (R-Atoka). “Bringing his experience, skill, and charisma back to his alma mater is a major victory for Oklahoma State University and the entire state. I know Jimmy will thrive in this role and commend Governor Stitt for an excellent selection in this very important position for our state.”
Stitt’s press release included additional biographical information about Holloway:
Holloway graduated from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma in December 1992, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting with highest academic achievement and honors and a math minor. She has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Oklahoma since May 1993 and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Holloway is a strong supporter of the University of Oklahoma. She has served as a member of both the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business Board of Advisors and the OU Energy Institute Board of Advisors. A 2015 inductee into the University of Oklahoma Arthur B. Adams Society, Holloway frequently serves as a guest lecturer for the business school. She has also established accounting and law scholarships through the University of Oklahoma Foundation and is a football and men’s basketball season ticket holder.
It also included additional biographical information about Harrel:
Jimmy D. Harrel is a rancher, farmer and banker. In 1985, he became an owner of the Bank of Western Oklahoma in Elk City, Oklahoma, and developed it into one of the premium agriculture lending banks in the state. The Bank of Western Oklahoma is now located in Weatherford, Woodward, Vici, Cordell, Elk City, and Geary, Oklahoma. Prior to this, Harrel served as high school principal, vocational agriculture instructor and basketball coach at Taloga Public Schools.
A native of Leedey, Oklahoma, Harrel earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and vocational agriculture education from Oklahoma State University. He has served on a number of boards and committees, including serving as a former member of the State Board of Agriculture, Board of Regents for A&M Colleges, Board of Regents of Higher Education, and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Harrel is an active member of the OSU Alumni association and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2019.
(Update: This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, to include additional information.)