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OU class of 2023: defining stories from students' undergraduate experience


Students from the class of 2023 dance before Interim OU President Joseph Harroz welcomes the class Aug. 18.

From sit-ins to pandemics, here's a list of some of the events that shaped the class of 2023. 

April 2019: OU women’s gymnastics claims national championship 

The Sooners defeated UCLA, LSU and Denver to earn the program’s fourth national championship under coach K.J. Kindler. The team had a perfect season that year.

May 2019: OU President James Gallogly retires

Gallogly announced his retirement in May 2019 after taking office in July 2018. During his time as president, Gallogly was criticized for his leadership during several racially charged incidents at the university. The law school dean and current OU President Joseph Harroz was appointed interim president on May 16.

June 2019: Former OU President David Boren cuts ties with university

Boren surrendered his president emeritus status, his role as a professor of political science, his campus office and his free tickets to OU sporting events in a letter to the university during an investigation into claims of sexual misconduct.

December 2019: Jalen Hurts places 2nd in Heisman vote 

Hurts, OU’s 2019 senior quarterback, fell second to Joe Burrow, then quarterback at LSU and current quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. Hurts now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played in the 2023 Super Bowl.

February 2020: Black Emergency Response Team holds three-day sit-in in Evans Hall

The sit-in consisted of protests and a hunger strike for six members of BERT leadership. Most of BERT’s demands were implemented in OU’s strategic plan, and Harper stepped down in June 2020 and returned to teaching classics and letters. 

March 2020: U.S. shelters-in-place in response to global COVID-19 pandemic

OU followed suit with Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma in moving to online instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 18,  three days after campus closed for a reported positive test. Six days later, former Mayor Breea Clark issued a “shelter-in-place” order for the City of Norman

June - July 2020 : OU announces plan to return to campus for upcoming school year

OU announced a social distancing plan, titled the Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan, in hopes of returning to some in-person classes in the fall. The plan developed into a several-phase return plan with masking and testing requirements. 

OU President Joseph Harroz details return to campus, announces chief COVID officer

May 2021: OU announces full in-person instruction for 2021-22 school year

Harroz announced a return to class at full capacity. Both masking and vaccination were strongly encouraged but not enforced, as an executive order from Governor Kevin Stitt and Senate Bill 658 prevented the university from implementing any mandate. 

OU faculty, students express worry, hopefulness ahead of university plan to return to in-person courses at full capacity

June 2021: OU softball claims 2021 Women’s College World Series championship  

After beating Florida State 5-1, the Sooners earned a fifth national championship for coach Patty Gasso. The win comes after the 2020 WCWS was canceled in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Women's College World Series: Jocelyn Alo's home run 'the difference in the game' in OU's national championship win over Florida State

September 2021: Harroz inaugurated as university president

Harroz is officially inaugurated as the 15th university president in a ceremony at Lloyd Noble Center. He was appointed to the position over a year prior. 

Joseph Harroz inaugurated as 15th university president in Lloyd Noble Center ceremony

April 2022: OU women’s gymnastics claims 2022 NCAA championship 

For the fifth time in program history, the OU women’s gymnastics team won the national championship against Florida, Utah and Auburn with a score of 198.200. 

'Fighters 'till the end': OU women's gymnastics comes from behind to win 5th NCAA Championship, motivated by skeptical preseason prediction

June 2022: OU softball wins back-to-back national championships 

The Sooners earn back-to-back titles as Women’s College World Series champions after a score of 10-5 over Texas. This marked the sixth championship for Gasso. 

Women's College World Series: OU defeats Texas 10-5 to win 6th national championship in program history

June 2022: Supreme Court of United States overturns Roe v. Wade

SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs v. Jackson decision during summer break. Upon returning to campus, the university grappled with how to determine the effects of the ruling on campus, students and staff.

Live updates: OU reacts to Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade

February 2023: OU, Texas agree to leave Big 12 for Southeastern Conference in 2024

OU and Texas agreed to leave the Big 12 a year earlier than estimated and will pay a combined $100 million in fees for their exit. The OU Board of Regents unanimously voted in 2021 to accept the SEC’s invitation to join the conference.

OU, Texas agree to leave Big 12 for SEC in 2024, a year earlier than previously announced

February 2023: EF2 tornado touches down in east Norman, damaging student housing

An EF2 tornado swept through east Norman on Feb. 26, damaging student housing complexes and neighborhoods. 12 people were injured and street closures lasted for several days.

'It was terrifying': Norman residents recall experiences during EF2 tornado

April 2023: OU target of active shooter swatting incident

On April 7, multiple calls from outside the U.S. claimed an active shooter was on campus near the Bizzell Memorial Library. No evidence of a shooting was found by law enforcement. Harroz later confirmed the university was a swatting victim. 

All clear after active shooter reported on South Oval: Timeline of events

Read more from OU Daily's 2023 Graduation Guide: 

This story was edited by Karoline Leonard, Colton Sulley and Jazz Wolfe. Teegan Smith copy edited this story.  

senior news reporter

Peggy Dodd is a journalism sophomore and senior news reporter at the Daily. She started at the Daily in the fall of 2021 and has previously served as a news reporter. She is originally from Jones, Oklahoma.

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