Bob Ross
Gov. Kevin Stitt has nominated Inasmuch Foundation President and CEO Bob Ross for a seven-year term on the OU Board of Regents. (NonDoc)

Gov. Kevin Stitt has nominated Inasmuch Foundation President and CEO Bob Ross for a seven-year term on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents.

“Bob Ross is the epitome of a great Oklahoman who has a long history of serving his community,” Stitt said in a press release today. “He is passionate about making our state the best it can possibly be, loves the University of Oklahoma and will make sure our Oklahoma values are well represented in this new role.”

The nomination of Ross will require approval from the State Senate.

“Serving the University of Oklahoma as a regent is a high honor that comes with great responsibility. As a fourth generation Oklahoman, I have a deep commitment to our state and to the university,” Ross said in Stitt’s press release. “I am incredibly thankful to Governor Stitt for his confidence in me and I am dedicated to ensuring the university continues to focus on producing the next generation of leaders in Oklahoma. I look forward to working with President Harroz and my fellow regents to position OU to excel amidst the changes in higher education and our economy.”

This spring, Stitt has had two positions to fill on the OU Board of Regents. Michael Cawley, who served as chairman of the board over the past year, did not seek reappointment after completing an unexpired term this month. In January, Phil Albert resigned from the board as he entered the final year of his seven-year term. Albert is facing unanswered accusations that he embezzled more than $7 million from Pelco Structural, a company for which he served as president until 2019.

Stitt has yet to announce his second appointment to the OU Board of Regents.

Background on Bob Ross

Ross received his juris doctorate degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1999 after completing his undergraduate studies at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Prior to leading the Inasmuch Foundation, he worked as an attorney with the law firm McAfee & Taft.

Ross became executive director and vice chairman of the board of the Inasmuch Foundation in 2003, about two decades after it was started by Edith Kinney Gaylord. The Inasmuch Foundation is one of Oklahoma’s leading charitable foundations, supporting hundreds of causes related to education, human resources, journalism and other sectors. In 2005, Ross became president and CEO. He became chairman of the board in 2019.

In 1982, Edith Kinney Gaylord founded both the Inasmuch Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The entities merged in 2014.

In addition to Ross, Stitt has appointed three other current members of the seven-member OU Board of Regents: Rick Nagel, Anita Holloway and Eric Stevenson. He previously appointed Cawley and Gary Pierson to fill unexpired terms, before selecting Nagel to succeed Pierson last year.

Ross is a member of the Young Presidents Organization, also known as YPO.

Anil Gollahalli leaves OU for Big 10 post

Anil Gollahalli, left, speaks with other University of Oklahoma administrators during a break in an OU Board of Regents meeting Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Michael Duncan)

Meanwhile, the University of Oklahoma will be searching for a new top lawyer. Longtime general counsel and Vice President Anil Gollahalli is leaving OU to become the chief legal officer and general counsel for the Big 10 Conference.

Gollahalli’s background with OU was outlined in three paragraphs of the Big 10’s press release:

Mr. Gollahalli joins the conference from the University of Oklahoma, where he was vice president and general counsel. He was a trusted advisor to President Joseph Harroz Jr. and the Oklahoma Board of Regents.

He managed all major legal projects, including the privatization of the university’s utilities systems, public private partnerships, consolidation of the university’s health system, and the acquisition and renovation of its campus in Italy. He counseled on all television and media development, intellectual property rights, athletics and university compliance, employment matters, healthcare operations, policy development, collections, and litigation. Additionally, he played a leadership role in the Oklahoma Board of Regents’ unanimous vote to enter the Southeastern Conference.

Prior to serving as University of Oklahoma General Counsel, Mr. Gollahalli was the vice president for technology development at the university. He also practiced law in Dallas, working extensively in the intellectual property fields, and served as law clerk to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Mr. Gollahalli received a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Political Science from the University of Oklahoma and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Gollahalli serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of College and University Attorneys, is currently barred in Texas and Oklahoma, and is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Gollahalli became general counsel to the OU president in 2008, and he simultaneously served as general counsel for the OU Board of Regents, a dual roll that some questioned owing to the regents’ responsibility to oversee the university and its president.

(Editor’s note: The Sustainable Journalism Foundation has received grants and additional funding for NonDoc’s internship program from the Inasmuch Foundation since 2020.)