The University of Oklahoma has its new president.
By a vote of the OU Board of Regents on Saturday, Joseph Harroz Jr. had the interim tag removed and formally became the school’s 15th president.
A 1989 OU graduate who received his juris doctorate from Georgetown, Harroz returned to OU in 1994 and has been interim president since Jim Gallogly resigned almost one year ago to the day.
“This is more than a promotion or a dream job to me,” Harroz said. “It’s a chance to pay back the debt I owe our university. OU changes lives every day. I know firsthand because it changed mine. I wouldn’t be who I am if not for the education my father – the son of Lebanese immigrants – received at OU, and the education that I also received from this extraordinary institution.”
Gallogly replaced David Boren on June 30, 2018. Under Boren’s 24 years, OU experienced both enormous growth and deep debt.
OU insiders say Harroz, 54, is a more practical mix of the lavishly spending Boren and the tight-fisted Gallogly.
“This a great day for the University of Oklahoma, but as great as it is, the days ahead of us are even more exciting thanks to the decision made by our Board of Regents,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. “Joe Harroz is a bright, visionary and transformational leader. His appointment to the presidency at OU could not have come at a better time. He has served admirably in a number of important, high-level positions on our campus and has an unmatched understanding of our university.
“We have great confidence in his leadership and are anxious to support him and his staff in every way. On a personal level, I could not be happier for Joe. I have worked closely with him since I arrived on campus and count him not only as a very good friend, but also as a highly valued and respected colleague.”
Before being named interim president May 13 last year, Harroz was the dean of the OU College of Law. He was OU general counsel from 1996-2008, and from 2010 to 2019 was dean of the law school.
“I am extremely pleased with the OU Board of Regents’ decision to appoint Joe Harroz as the university’s next president,” said Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Joe is a devoted public servant and he has the leadership skills of a top chief executive. I am confident he will continue to lead OU successfully, ensuring its mission of service to state and society is fulfilled.”
“Joe Harroz is an exceptional leader,” said Gary Pierson, chair of the OU Board of Regents. “His deep devotion to OU and compelling vision for its future are precisely what the university needs. There’s no one better suited to lead OU.”
In a profile with the OU Daily last year, Harroz detailed his family history and described how his father — one of nine children of an immigrant family from Lebanon — was the only one of his siblings to attend college. Harroz’s father graduated from OU, then finished got his medical degree from OU and practiced medicine in Oklahoma City.
“It’s just not our story,” Harroz told Sooner Magazine last year. “It’s really the story of what makes America, and what a great public university can do to change lives.”
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.