Board of Regents Names Joseph Harroz Jr. OU’s 15th President
Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2020
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents unanimously voted May 9 to name Joseph Harroz Jr. the university’s 15th president, effective immediately.
“Joe Harroz is an exceptional leader,” said Gary Pierson, chair of the OU Board of Regents. “His deep devotion to OU and compelling vision for its future are precisely what the university needs. There’s no one better suited to lead OU.”
Harroz, formerly the dean of the OU College of Law, has served as interim president since May 2019.
“This is more than a promotion or a dream job to me,” Harroz said. “It’s a chance to pay back the debt I owe our university. OU changes lives every day. I know firsthand because it changed mine. I wouldn’t be who I am if not for the education my father – the son of Lebanese immigrants – received at OU, and the education that I also received from this extraordinary institution.”
A native Oklahoman, Harroz earned a bachelor of arts in economics from OU in 1989, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and a juris doctorate from Georgetown University in 1992. Harroz rejoined the University of Oklahoma in 1994, the beginning of nearly 25 years of service to the university. He served first as vice president for executive affairs and then for 12 years as general counsel, the chief legal counsel to the president, the OU Board of Regents, Rogers State University and Cameron University.
“Students feel visible after meeting President Harroz,” said Student Government Association President Justin Norris. “Over the past two semesters, he has immersed himself within multiple perspectives of student life by attending campus events, conversing with students, and most importantly, listening to them. He is an advocate, ally and role model, and he possesses what I believe to be some of the most important leadership attributes: compassion, connectivity and drive – all of which I believe are reflected in his work this past year.”
In 2008, Harroz became president of a publicly traded health care company, growing its market capitalization to more than $80 million, before returning to OU in 2010 as the dean and director of the OU Law Center and Fenelon Boesche Chair of Law. Harroz has taught law for more than two decades, focusing on employment, sports and health care law.
“I am extremely pleased with the OU Board of Regents’ decision to appoint Joe Harroz as the university’s next president,” said Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. “Joe is a devoted public servant and he has the leadership skills of a top chief executive. I am confident he will continue to lead OU successfully, ensuring its mission of service to state and society is fulfilled.”
“During the past year, Joe Harroz and the Faculty Senate leadership have developed a great working relationship, and we appreciate how much he values faculty input and perspectives,” said OU Faculty Senate Chair Amy Bradshaw. “With the uncertainties of his interim position now resolved, we look forward to collaborating on ongoing strategic priorities, including transparency, effective administrative search processes and achieving meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion goals.”
“During the current unprecedented situation, I am thankful the board has voted to name Joe Harroz our president,” said OU Staff Senate Chair Sarah Connelly. “He has been an advocate for staff since stepping into the role of interim president last year. I appreciate that he has regularly engaged in open and honest conversations with Staff Senate. While we know there are still difficult times ahead, I believe President Harroz will lead with honesty, empathy and input from staff and other constituencies.”
Throughout his nine-year tenure as dean, the OU College of Law earned record national recognition, including the highest-ever U.S. News & World Report ranking by any Oklahoma law school and the first law school in the nation to achieve Apple Distinguished School status (Apple, Inc.). Under Harroz, National Jurist Magazine named OU Law one of the nation’s “Best Value Law Schools” for 10 consecutive years, and its graduates consistently led the state in bar exam passage rates. In addition, his fundraising efforts more than tripled the size of the college’s scholarship endowment and expanded the annual amount of scholarship money given to students to more than $1.5 million.
At OU Law, Harroz also led efforts to create new joint degree and certificate programs to enhance the J.D., instituted a pro bono service commitment for all law students and launched the nation’s first-ever law school Digital Initiative, preparing students for success in the 21st century legal profession.
“OU needs strong, stable leadership to guide it successfully into a future that is ever-changing,” Pierson said. “Throughout the past year, while serving as interim president, Joe has exceeded our high expectations. His diverse experience and commitment to OU’s Purpose and our university community is unparalleled.”
Pierson also pointed to the Board of Regents’ most recent nationwide presidential search, noting Harroz’s candidacy and standing as a top finalist. Harroz went through the extensive search process, meeting with a 19-member search committee comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni, and was presented to the board as the search’s only internal candidate. Last May, the board appointed Harroz to serve as interim president following former President Jim Gallogly’s resignation.
“I count it an immense privilege to serve my alma mater and our state’s flagship public research university as its president,” Harroz said. “Throughout its 130-year history, OU has been a beacon of excellence and opportunity. As President, I pledge to work tirelessly with you – our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends – to be worthy of our extraordinary legacy. Together, we can realize the full potential of our Purpose to change the lives of each next generation of students and to impact the world through what we discover and create.”
Harroz, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants to Oklahoma, is father to Joseph, Zara and Jude and partner to Ashley Tate.