From his first public message, only a few hours after the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents appointed him as the university's interim president, Joseph Harroz Jr. seemed to understand instinctively what the OU community needed to hear and see.
He was the keynote speaker at the Norman Chamber of Commerce's Legislative Lunch on Tuesday, and he opened by joking that after a "solid two weeks and two days" as interim president, he was near "total mastery" of his job. But while Harroz was clearly making a point that he was brand new in the role, it's obvious he's already more comfortable in his role than his predecessor ever was.
So far, the messages from Harroz and James Gallogly haven't been all that different, but it's the way Harroz is communicating that's unique. The interim president told luncheon attendees that some "difficult decisions" remain ahead of the university, and that there is still some progress that needs to be made on the financial end.
"But we're going to do it together, and we're going to communicate," he said.
Together. Communicate. That matters. Harroz is setting the groundwork for a vision of the future at OU that includes the faculty, staff, students and the community, rather than keeps them in the dark as edicts are issued from on high.
The OU community is not one to shy away from a challenge. It's a community made up of talented men and women from all over the globe who are passionate about learning, about teaching, about research and about making Oklahoma and the world a better place. Sooner Magic doesn't just happen on Owen Field. But if you want those students and faculty and staff and alumni to buy into a vision, you have to communicate it.
Harroz is only two weeks and a few days on the job, but he's right where he needs to be.
"We’re going to talk about it and make sure people understand where we’re going and why we’re going there," he said.
Sounds like a plan, President Harroz. We're in.