TU Establishes Office of Government and Community Relations

Monday, April 12, 2010

Office of Government and Community Relations to ensure the university remains fully engaged with all the communities it serves.

Susan NealThe University of Tulsa has established the Office of Government and Community Relations to serve as liaison with local, state and national entities on university issues.

Longtime City of Tulsa official Susan Neal will join TU as associate vice president and director of the Office of Government and Community Relations beginning May 17. Neal most recently served as director of community development for Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

“Susan was instrumental in establishing the successful partnership between Gilcrease and the City of Tulsa to manage Gilcrease Museum, and her experience perfectly positions her for this new role at TU,” said TU President Steadman Upham. “TU has a long tradition of being a private university with an unwavering commitment to public service, which is an integral part of our academic mission. Susan will help ensure that TU remains fully engaged with the many communities that we serve.”

The Office of Government and Community Relations will report to the president and will serve as a member of the president’s executive staff. The position will work closely and collaboratively with administration, faculty and students to represent TU in government discussions, inform the TU community about relevant government actions, monitor legislation and regulations to assess campus impacts, work with groups and communities that might be impacted by TU projects, and partner with educational institutions, groups and communities to improve quality of life.

“I am very happy for this opportunity to work with TU, which I know from personal experience is dedicated to Tulsa’s success,” Neal said. “My work with TU will be a natural continuation of my longstanding commitment to advancing Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma.”

Neal has been active at all community levels, from city hall to the halls of Congress. Most recently, she has served since 2006 as director of community development and education for Tulsa Mayors Kathy Taylor and Dewey Bartlett. In this role, Neal oversees a number of city offices and initiatives, including the Parks and Recreation Department, Gilcrease Museum, the Performing Arts Center, River Parks, PlanIt Tulsa, Working In Neighborhoods and city planning. She also serves as the mayor's designee on education issues.

A former Tulsa city councilor, Neal served two terms representing the 9th Council District from 2002 to 2006 during which she served as an integral member of the Vision 2025 Leadership Team, which resulted in an $835 million investment in Tulsa County public projects. She also co-chaired the Arkansas River Corridor Development Plan that currently serves as the foundation for the river development.  She opted not to seek a third term.

Neal also served from 2004 to 2006 as executive director of Jumpstart Tulsa, an early childhood education program housed within the Community Service Council of Tulsa. Under her leadership, she built the program from its initial concept into a fully funded organization within the statewide framework of SmartStart Oklahoma.

Neal has led Tulsa area organizations, including service as executive director of Tulsa International Mayfest from 1994 to 1997 and vice president of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited from 1984 to 1991.  She helped lead Mayfest from a $375,000 loss prior to her hiring to paying off all debts and establishing profitability by her second year. She operated her own public relations firm from 1991 to 1997, serving various Tulsa area businesses and non-profit organizations.

Neal also has extensive experience as a lobbyist, serving as House and Senate lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and later as vice president for Washington, D.C.-based Thompson and Co. She also served as chief of staff to U.S. Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma. In that capacity, she oversaw legislative research, constituent services, media relations, casework and administrative operations.


David Hamby