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Our view: President-elect James Gallogly left to deal with ramifications of secretive search

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James Gallogly

James Gallogly, newly appointed OU president, speaks at the presidential announcement March 26.

A long day often ends with a deep breath and a moment of contemplation. The faculty, staff and students of OU, the Board of Regents and James Gallogly have had such a day.

With the official announcement of Gallogly as OU’s next president, the OU community finally has an answer to the main question that has been on everyone’s mind since President David Boren announced his retirement: Who will succeed him?

But, because of the secrecy throughout the search process, there are many other questions that have not been answered. We don’t know exactly what happened along the way, and we probably never will. Who the other candidates were and how diverse the pool was will remain secrets, never allowing the university community the chance to see what could have been or if Gallogly was really the best fit for the job.

Some have expressed concerns about Gallogly’s lack of managerial experience in higher education, his ties to the oil and gas industry and whether his millionaire status bought him the presidency, among other things. The questions that arise are natural considering he is the former executive vice president of ConocoPhillips and former CEO of a chemical and refining company, having made $106 million in 2014.

The real concern, however, is that we don’t know Gallogly or how he will run OU, but now we have to trust him with our beloved university and, for some of us, our livelihoods. The blame for that falls on the shoulders of the Board of Regents.

The regents had a list of qualifications they desired in the next president, but they recruited a person who does not meet those qualifications.

They wanted someone with a doctoral degree, which Gallogly doesn’t have.

They wanted someone with experience in higher education, which Gallogly doesn’t have.

Now, we’re left to speculate why exactly the Board of Regents chose Gallogly.

The search for David Boren’s successor placed the feelings and careers of the candidates above the needs of the students and faculty at the university. The search committee and the Board of Regents said, because the committee was made up of representatives from students, faculty and staff across OU, confidentiality was not a cause for concern. But at the heart of true representation is the ability to hold those representatives accountable.

It’s possible that, if the OU community had been included in the process and maybe even had been able to meet the final seven candidates toward the end of the search, Gallogly may not have been selected.

There would never have been a perfect choice to replace President Boren and his decades-long tenure, but there could have been open discussion and deliberation, a sharing of ideas and concerns along the way. A secretive search led to a questionable appointment that is highly contentious among those who will be impacted by Gallogly’s administration.

Gallogly is not to blame for the choices of the regents, but he will have to make up for their actions and take extra care to prove to the OU community that he can be trusted.

Time will be the true test for Gallogly and for the regents. We at the OU Daily love the university and want to see it succeed. We wish President Gallogly the best.

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