David Boren Steps Down As President at Oklahoma

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David Boren
June 7, 2017. Oklahoma University President David Boren speaks at the retirement announcement of football coach Bob Stoops. (Photo courtesy Kyle Phillips/The Transcript)

The announce came down today that David Boren will be stepping down as the president of the University of Oklahoma. His retirement will be effective at the end of the current school year on June 30th, 2018. He also announced that date is pending having a replacement identified at that point. Boren is the 13th president in the history of the University and is currently in his 23rd year of service with Oklahoma.

History Before Oklahoma

David Boren graduated from Yale University in 1963. There he majored in American History and graduated in the top one percent of his class. Later, Boren was selected as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. While there he earned a master’s degree in politics, philosophy and economics in 1965.  In 1968, he received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Boren served as the governor of the state of Oklahoma from 1974 to 1978. During his time as governor Boren promoted key educational initiatives that still have an impact on the University of Oklahoma today. Opting to not run for re-election in 1978, Boren decided to throw his hat in the ring for the United States Senate. He was elected to the Senate seat in 1979 where he held that position until 1994.

Boren’s Time at Oklahoma

During Boren’s leadership, the University of Oklahoma has developed 31 major new programs initiated since his inauguration. These programbs include establishment of the Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College, the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West. This was new expository writing program for freshmen modeled on the program at Harvard.

There was a big impact on facilities during Boren’s regime as well.  Since 1994, more than $2 billion in construction projects have been completed or are under way on OU’s three campuses. The most recent upgrade in the football facilities have made Oklahoma one of the most attractive places to play. The new $370 million made improvements to fan amenities, state of the art locker room and weight room updates and a huge video board inside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

The retirement comes as a surprise to most fans and media. This was not unlike the way that Bob Stoops announced his retirement in June. There were few leading indicators that this would happen. Like Stoops, Boren will leave a legacy on and off the athletic fields of play. Boren was instrumental in keeping the Big 12 alive through the midst of conference realignment talk. The academic and athletic programs have flourished under his watch. The mark of a great leader is to leave a place in a better position than it was when you started. Boren has achieved that and so much more.

What’s Next

There is something about those inquiring minds. They always want to know. After the shock of the departure of a tenured employee, curiosity bounds in terms of who might replace Boren. Oklahoma hasn’t had to look for a school president since the mid 90’s. Two internal candidates to look out for is business school dean Daniel Pullin as well as law school dean Joe Harroz. One would also have to think if Oklahoma would consider elevating the current athletic director Joe Castiglione to that position? Would Bob Stoops have interest in becoming the new athletic director? Only time will tell, but after 23 years and all of the accomplishments that Boren has had there will be pretty big shoes to fill.

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