Interim OU President Joseph Harroz released a letter to the OU community Monday highlighting some of the university’s accomplishments over the past six months.
The letter included details on the class of 2023, updates on university research and an outlook on the university’s future with the progress of the strategic framework.
“My optimism for the future is unlimited as we are now six months into building a strategic plan that will guide our efforts in pursuing the fulfillment of our sacred mission for years to come,” Harroz said in the letter. “As you read below, please know your fundamental importance to our future. Because of you, we are on the path to being one of the truly great public research universities in our nation.”
This year OU welcomed over 4,500 students in its incoming class, which Harroz said includes 34 percent from historically underrepresented minority groups and 24 percent first-generation college students.
“One of the markers of a healthy university is the size of its incoming class. This year, I’m thrilled to report that OU welcomed its largest first-year class in our 129-year history,” Harroz said. “Made up of more than 4,500 students, the Class of 2023 represents our commitment to attracting the very best to the University of Oklahoma.”
Harroz noted the university’s accomplishments in research with the October dedication of OU’s Center for Quantum Research and Technology, and November’s $20 million gift to OU's Stephenson Cancer Center from the Stephenson Family Foundation. Harroz said the gift “expands our research mission, going toward the recruitment of world-class scientists, the creation of new endowed chairs, and more,” and that the university has pledged to match the donation to honor the Stephensons’ generosity.
OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center was ranked in the top 50 in the nation by higher education ranking organization U.S. News and World Report, which Harroz also noted in his letter. OU was ranked 60 among top public schools in the nation, and was ranked 132 overall after being stripped of its ranking in the spring due to false reporting of alumni donations the university said it had been supplying since 1999.
OU Medicine was also named the No. 1 hospital system in Oklahoma for 2019-20 by U.S. News, and the Price College of Business’ undergraduate program was named a top 50 business program in the nation, which Harroz said was a “decades-long goal.”
Harroz also mentioned how the university is “attracting national talent and leadership” with the “two critical hires” of Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, the Norman campus vice president for research and partnerships, and Belinda Higgs Hyppolite, OU’s new vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Harroz also gave the OU community an update on his strategic framework plan, which will provide a vision for university progress into the future. An online survey was distributed to the OU community earlier in the fall to help determine what priorities are important to students, faculty, staff and other university community members, and it received over 5,000 responses.
“We are unlocking the potential of a great comprehensive public research university. Our recent successes demonstrate the immense momentum we are enjoying, and we know even greater opportunity lies ahead for OU,” Harroz said. “The process has already been formative, and we are thankful for the help, input, and leadership of the OU community. ... Because of you — the OU family — our university’s future is unlimited. On behalf of OU, we offer you our profound thanks.”