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Former OU administrator, Oklahoma state senator dies at 53

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Evans Hall (copy)

Evans Hall May 29.

Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) and OU released statements Thursday after the passing of a former Oklahoma state senator and OU administrator.

Norman native Jonathan Nichols died at 53 Wednesday evening, according to a press release from McCall.

According to a press release from the Norman Police Department, police responded to a call Wednesday and found Nichols "deceased inside the residence from an apparent gunshot wound."

NPD is investigating the exact cause and manner of Nichols' death, according to the press release.

Nichols previously served as a prosecutor for the Cleveland County District Attorney before beginning his tenure as an Oklahoma state senator in 2000, where he served for 12 years. After leaving the Senate, Nichols served as chief of staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman (R-Tulsa) and former President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus), according to the release.

According to the House press release, Nichols was serving on McCall’s staff as a senior policy adviser at the time of his passing.

Nichols earned his juris doctorate from OU in 1993, according to the OU press release, and was later appointed as OU’s vice president of government relations in December 2016 after former OU President David Boren recommended him to the Board of Regents. Boren said Nichols was an “advocate for education.” Nichols left the position in July 2018, after former OU President James Gallogly made several personnel changes in the university administration.

“I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away. He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend,” McCall said in the release. “Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly. He was proud of his family and loved him deeply, he was proud of Norman and he was proud of Oklahoma.”

Interim OU President Joseph Harroz said in the OU press release that the OU community is mourning Nichols’ passing.

“We mourn his loss deeply on behalf of his family but also on behalf of the OU family and everyone who believes public service is sacred and essential for civil society,” Harroz said in the OU press release. “Jonathan will be missed by me, our OU family and the many people he served in his roles as senator, prosecutor and advocate for education.”

Keith Gaddie, an OU executive faculty fellow, said in the press release that Nichols was a close friend and advocate for the public.

“Jonathan Nicholas was my dear friend and neighbor,” Gaddie said in the press release. “He was a quiet, highly effective servant of the people. He distinguished himself in his ability to work across the aisle and try to make lives better.”

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. June 6 to include information from the NPD press release.

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