Oklahoma President Quits

Move follows series of controversies in less than a year in office.

May 13, 2019
 
James L. Gallogly

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

The president of the University of Oklahoma, James L. Gallogly, on Sunday announced that he is stepping down, after less than a year in office.

The news follows a series of controversies over the university's finances, leadership and racial climate.

While new university presidents make many personnel and organizational changes, those set by Gallogly were stunning to many in their speed and breadth.

Six top administrators were laid off or retired on Gallogly's first day on the job as president. The university also announced a reorganization cutting the number of administrators reporting directly to the president from 25 to 17.

Gallogly cited deficits as part of the reason for the reorganization at the time, and his announcement that he is leaving also cited severe financial problems he found at Oklahoma. His announcement also said that these and other efforts had been successful.

"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," he wrote. "We later discovered that gifts and alumni support statistics were significantly overstated 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."

Gallogly has a nontraditional background for a university president. He was an executive with oil and petrochemical companies such as LyondellBasell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Phillips Petroleum.

The campus also saw turmoil in January when video surfaced in which a woman in blackface says, "I am a nigger." While Gallogly condemned the use of the slur, many students and faculty members said that the administration (and prior OU leaders) had failed to do enough to deal with a hostile environment experienced by many black and other minority students. In 2015, a video of fraternity members singing a song with the same slur roiled the university.

Adding to the tensions on campus has been an investigation into allegations that David Boren, who was president from 1994 until 2018, sexually harassed male aides.

In March, the news website NonDoc published a detailed article in which an Oklahoma graduate described being offered alcohol by Boren as a prelude to Boren touching him and making advances. The graduate is quoted by name, and friends of his confirm that he spoke to them about the allegations years ago when they happened. The graduate also alleges one incident involving Tripp Hall, a former vice president for university development. Boren continues to deny wrongdoing, and Hall does so as well.

When the story first broke in February, the university confirmed only that it had hired a law firm to investigate misconduct and did not specify the type of misconduct. After the new article appeared, the university released a new statement, which says (in full), "In November 2018, OU received a report of alleged sexual misconduct. The report triggered an immediate external investigation by the university. The goal of this investigation since the beginning has been to proceed with the highest degrees of professionalism, confidentiality and sincere concern for all parties involved particularly potential victims. This is our duty. While individuals may share their own personal accounting, it is critical that the university proceed deliberately, objectively and with respect for all the individuals involved. The investigation is not complete and comment on specifics at this time would be inappropriate."

Supporters of Boren have accused Gallogly of using the investigation to tarnish Boren's reputation, The Oklahoman reported. And more broadly, Boren supporters have questioned many of the new president's actions and his declarations that he found a financial crisis when he took office.

“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,” Gallogly told The Oklahoman. “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.”

Read more by

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

Inside Higher Ed Careres

Search Over 35,000 Jobs

Browse all jobs on Inside Higher Ed Careers »

 
+ -

Expand commentsHide comments  —   Join the conversation!

Today’s News from Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes

Back to Top