OU employee forum

OU President James Gallogly speaks to employees at the University of Oklahoma Sept. 20 during an employee forum.

Since taking the helm in July, OU President James Gallogly has had a rocky tenure punctuated by a challenging financial situation, layoffs and personnel investigations into former administrators, including his predecessor.

Following Sunday's news that he intends to leave his position, here's a look back at the timeline of events under Gallogly's leadership at the university:

March 26, 2018: Selection announced — Last spring, the OU Board of Regents announced James Gallogly would be named the 14th president of the University of Oklahoma.

Gallogly, a Canadian-born businessman was best known for his work in corporate industry, including the notable turnaround of LyondellBasell, a Dutch chemical company that bounced back from bankruptcy, to, under Gallogly as CEO starting 2009, an industry leader via restructuring, 3,000 layoffs and plant closures.

Unlike many fellow Big 12 university presidents, Gallogly does not have PhD, but holds a juris doctorate from the OU College of Law, a bachelor’s of arts from the University of Colorado and an advanced business degree from Northwestern.

He was selected through a private process, which drew some public criticism.

• May 11, 2018: Boren addresses regents for last time — Outgoing president Boren, addressing the OU Board of Regents for the last time as president, said he felt very comfortable turning over the reins to Gallogly.

“I don’t think there will be anything like the richness of the experience you will have, Jim, at this university,” he said.

Boren acknowledged that Gallogly was coming into a challenging situation, with recurring state budget cuts to higher education, which Boren called a “ticking time bomb” for OU if the state failed to “meet its responsibilities.”

• May 17, 2018: Gallogly steps down at Continental — The Continental Board of Directors announced that Gallogly had stepped down from the board to focus on his new role with OU.

• June 19, 2018: Gallogly derides deficit, Boren counters, threats made — Prior to taking office, Gallogly had a stern assessment of the university’s financial position. Instead of criticizing the Legislature for repeated cuts to higher education funding, he pointed the finger at financial mismanagement.

“I consider myself a financial expert, and it’s taken me days and weeks and months to figure it all out,” he said. “But I do feel I have a good grasp of where we are today, and frankly I’m not pleased with what I have found.”

Expenses have grown about 4.5 percent more than revenues in the last five years, he said, leading to a loss of about $36 million a year for the Norman campus during that time. He continued to report that in Fiscal Year 2016-17, the Norman campus ran a $31.2 million loss.

Still president at the time, Boren responded in a letter to The Transcript.

“It is clear that no public college or university can maintain the excellence that we have achieved unless state funding returns to normal,” he said.

As was reported in The Transcript in December, following the publication of Boren’s letter on June 20, Gallogly told a senior OU administrator to deliver a message to Boren: “You tell him that I am the meanest son of a bitch he has ever seen, and if he ever crosses me again, I will destroy him.”

Despite multiple sources independently confirming said communication took place, Gallogly denied making the statement.

• June 27, 2018: Tuition stays flat — Meeting with the State Regents of Higher Education, Gallogly put forth a plan that, unlike many other state institutions, included no tuition increases for the upcoming school year.

“We’ve been increasing the rate of tuition at a rate of 5.4 percent over the past few years,” he said. “It’s time to stop that and worry more about our cost structure.”

• July 1, 2018: Gallogly fires six administrators on first working day in office — Gallogly first publicly entertained the idea of laying off non-faculty staff as a cost-cutting measure during Boren’s final Board of Regents meeting in June.

On his first day in office as president, he fired Associate Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kuwitzky, Chief Audit Executive Mander, Executive Federal Programs Director Mason, Senior Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Gilbert and Vice President for Governmental Relations Nichols.

In doing so, he reduced the total number of executive positions from 25 to 17, saving an estimated $1.1 million annually.

Among Gallogly’s stated goals for the university were addressing the institution’s debt while keeping tuition flat and expanding research.

• July 24, 2018: Shumate resigns, claims he was forced out — Jabar Shumate, the former state senator who was hired in 2015 by the university in the wake of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity racist video incident, resigned abruptly over the summer.

Shumate claimed he was forced out and characterized the situation as a “high-tech lynching.”

The university refuted his claims, citing an internal audit that claimed Shumate had misused his university vehicle hundreds of times.

Anil Gollahalli, vice president and general counsel for OU, said upon being made aware of this in a July 23 meeting, the university informed Shumate he could either resign or be terminated, and he chose to resign.

• Aug. 3, 2018: OU pulls back on National Merit Scholars program — The OU office dedicated to recruiting and retaining Merit Scholars was scaled back in the fall. The decisions were made at some point before Boren retired.

Erin Yarbrough, the university’s interim vice president for public affairs, said the changes were made to focus more on other scholarship students.

Gallogly praised the decision, which was made by the regents and Boren the previous year.

• Aug. 28, 2018: Gallogly addresses Faculty Senate — Addressing the Faculty Senate for the first time, Gallogly reiterated his goals to increase faculty pay, improve research and keep tuition flat.

Gallogly said instead of pressing legislators on why they aren’t funding higher education, he would like to bring them a value equation that shows how OU can help the state economy grow.

• Nov. 1, 2018: Gallogly announces termination of 50 OU staff positions — In an email to faculty and staff, Gallogly said the terminations are necessary as the university balances its budget, and referred to them as the "first phase" of the plan.

The layoffs included many landscaping staff members, but also included JP Audas, associate vice president for Alumni and Development, Senior Associate Vice President for University Development Paul Massad and Jim “Tripp” Hall, vice president for University Development.

“Moving toward a balanced budget is essential if we are to control tuition costs for our students, afford employee raises to ensure competitive salaries and be prudent stewards of taxpayer and donor funds,” Gallogly said.

Gallogly said the administration had already identified $20 million in savings for next year, mostly by cutting third-party services and purchases.

Also, around this time, the university hired law firm Jones Day to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Boren and Hall.

“The University of Oklahoma received allegations of serious misconduct that it was legally obligated to investigate,” Lauren Brookey, vice president for marketing and communications, said.

Both Boren and Hall denied the allegations, which were made by former OU employees.

• Dec. 12, 2018: Faculty raises approved — The OU Board of Regents unanimously approved a compensation plan that will see Norman campus faculty receive between a 1.5 percent and 6 percent market-based salary increase. The program will start Jan. 1, 2019, Gallogly said.

The raise package totaled roughly $4.9 million.

“We’re moving from brick and mortar investments to investing in human capital,” Gallogly said.

Gallogly also confirmed that week that more layoffs were coming in the new year.

• Jan. 19, 2019: Gallogly responds to racist video — Following the release of a racist video created and shared by an OU sorority member, Gallogly responded by condemning the video.

“Diversity and inclusivity are and will continue to be the hallmarks of our great university,” he said. “We are committed to our mission of inclusive excellence, mutual respect and civil dialogue."

At a campus rally a few days later, Suzette Grillot, a tenured faculty member who had been removed as dean of the College of International Studies, called for Gallogly’s resignation.

The Board of Regents expressed their support for Gallogly and his response to the blackface video.

• Feb. 7, 2019: OU announces staff reductions — Following another sobering financial report, 28 employee reductions were announced.

They were split between the Norman and OU Health Sciences Center campuses.

"We will continue to address unsustainable or inefficient costs that make OU less affordable for students and reinvest in areas like competitive salaries, graduate student fee reductions, and tuition and fee stabilization," Gallogly said.

According to the university, the reductions came primarily from the IT department on the Norman campus and the landscaping department on the Health Sciences Center campus.

The university projected the cuts would save roughly $2 million annually.

May 12, 2019: Gallogly announces retirement — Just two days following his first commencement ceremony as president, Gallogly announced plans to leave the position as soon as a succession plan is in place.

He said OU has made strides to address its budget situation but there is still more work to do.

"While we have made progress, the job has not been completed,” he said. “We are preparing a FY 20 budget for presentation in June.

“The hope is to continue to hold tuition flat for our undergraduates so that a great OU education is affordable for all qualified Oklahomans as well as others from our nation and the world who want the hard earned privilege of being called a 'Sooner' for life.

“We also have additional salary increases to implement for our dedicated faculty and staff. The savings realized to date, and the other plans we are working on, should give us the confidence that such is possible."

Mack Burke

mburke@normantranscript.com

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Mack Burke is an investigative reporter and award-winning feature writer and columnist for The Norman Transcript. An OU alumnus, he has lived in Norman since 2003.