On July 1, James Lawrence Gallogly officially became the 14th OU president — and on July 2, his administration hit the ground running.
In one of the first official actions of the Gallogly era, OU announced a major administrative restructuring plan, significantly reducing the number of executives reporting directly to the university president, resulting in the removal of three sitting OU vice presidents and several other high-level administrators.
“We had some reorganization today,” Gallogly told The Daily from his largely still unfurnished office towards the end of the work day. “As we’ve mentioned, we have several budget issues we have to sort out — we need to start saving costs, and we started today.”
The position of vice president for administration and finance, held until July 2 by Nick Hathaway, has officially been eliminated. The chief financial officer, chief human resources officer and vice president for facilities and services will now report directly to Gallogly and the office of the president.
Hathaway, who The Daily has been unable to reach for several weeks, was not the only vice president removed in the July 2 restructuring. Senior Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Rowdy Gilbert was also removed from his position, as well as Vice President for Governmental Relations Jonathan Nichols, whose position was combined into a single position with the director of federal programs that will now report to the OU general counsel.
Among the other administrators removed were Chris Kuwitzky, former associate vice president and chief financial officer; Clive Mander, former chief audit executive; and Scott Mason, former executive director of federal programs. The restructuring will also mean the vice presidents of enrollment and student financial services (Matt Hamilton), university community (Jabar Shumate), outreach (Belinda Biscoe), as well as the leaders of the colleges of Business (Daniel Pullin), Law (Joseph Harroz) and Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences (Berrien Moore) will now report directly to OU Provost Kyle Harper.
It was a day of shock for most OU faculty and staff members — a day of uncertainty for almost all members of the OU community — but for those few who have experienced an OU presidential transition, it comes as little surprise. OU professor emeritus George Henderson, who has seen seven OU presidents before Gallogly, said it would be surprising if there were not major changes.
“I’ve served under seven presidents, not counting this one, and all of them have had major changes in the administration, and that’s to be expected,” Henderson said. “In terms of my reaction, I’m more concerned with seeing how the reorganization actually works. I can’t and will not prejudge it until I’ve seen what it will do.”
In a report to the OU Board of Regents June 19 criticizing the financial management of the university, Gallogly said there were many places where OU can decrease costs and increase revenues, and it was widely speculated Gallogly was eyeing changes to OU’s vice president system as the first place he can accomplish those goals.
The six individuals removed from their positions July 2 earned a collective $1,131,700 annually, according to official Board of Regents minutes from meetings over the last decade. Despite this, Gallogly told The Daily that restructuring did not save the university a significant amount of money, but it will make the campus run more efficiently in the long run, thus making it more cost-effective.
“Today was more about having an organization that’s going to be more efficient and manageable just in size and number of direct reports,” Gallogly said. “The amount of savings today was not a significant amount. There’s going to be some reorganization about who reports to who, but we still have a lot of work to do in terms of our cost structure.”
Paul Bell, dean emeritus of OU’s College of Arts and Sciences, said it’s widely believed OU had too many vice presidents and that the system was often too “top heavy.”
“I’ve been a faculty member here now for 39 years, and one of the things that’s happened over that period of time is the gradual proliferation in the number of vice presidents, and when David Boren came, the number of vice presidents really took off,” Bell said. “There used to be a joke at one time that you had more vice presidents than secretaries.”
Henderson said the fear that comes along with these reorganizations is the natural human reaction to change, which he has seen in presidential transitions in the past.
“It just so happens that OU students have only known one head of the OU family — David Boren. OU students have only ever known one head of the family, but let’s see what this one’s going to try,” Henderson said.
Bell said that while these changes are surprising to many, they really shouldn’t be seen as an unexpected move by Gallogly, as many have believed for many years there were too many administrators at the top.
“If I’m Gallogly, and I’m in an administration that’s decidedly top heavy, way too many vice presidents — and I’m not commenting on anybody in particular — the fact that there were so many vice presidents, it’s not surprising that he’d want to reduce that number. It makes perfect sense to me.”
In the wake of a day defined by change, Henderson said he felt optimistic in the university’s future based on conversations he’s had with Gallogly.
“All of the other questions we have comes with the anxiety of a presidential transition. Students have a right to be anxious, though I think they shouldn’t be,” Henderson said. “I’ve got to give — and I hope students will, too — President Gallogly the benefit of the doubt that he will do what he has to do, and it will be done in a way that will reflect positively on our students, their lives and their futures.”