TU President Upham announces retirement

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Steadman Upham, the 17th president of The University of Tulsa, announced Tuesday that he will step down from the presidency effective June 30, 2012.

He plans to remain with the university in a teaching and research role, and the university will conduct a national search for his successor.

President Steadman Upham

Upham joined TU as president in 2004. His administration has been highlighted by strengthening academic quality of students and faculty, maintaining strong enrollment, adding more than a million square feet of state-of-the-art facilities, and preserving fiscal stability without layoffs or program cuts during one of the most turbulent economic times in U.S. history. Working alongside the TU Board of Trustees, he also oversaw the university’s largest comprehensive campaign, which has raised more than $500 million to date.

“The TU family has come together to realize tremendous success over recent years,” Upham said in a letter to campus announcing his retirement. “These gains have moved the university across the threshold of a new era that will benefit from the fresh ideas and energy of new leadership.” David Lawson, chairman of the TU Board of Trustees, noted the university’s tremendous progress during the past seven years.

“Under President Upham’s direction, TU has experienced an unprecedented era of growth both in the physical transformation of campus and the quality of our academic enterprise,” Lawson said. “During this time, we have admitted high-achieving students from around the world, recruited world-class faculty to Tulsa, and developed a thriving campus community. The cumulative effect has firmly established TU’s position as one of the nation’s top universities.”

Under Upham’s leadership, TU has made notable advances that include:

  • The creation of more than 20 endowed faculty positions and more than 300 new scholarships;.
  • An increase in the academic quality of the student body, reflected through rising median ACT scores from 26 to 29 and median SAT scores from 1220 to 1260 among incoming freshmen classes;.
  • The successful public-private partnership to assume management and development of the city-owned Thomas Gilcrease Museum;.
  • Expansion of interdisciplinary research, including creation of institutes in fields such as nanotechnology, bioinformatics, alternative energy, trauma and abuse, and information security;.
  • Enhanced global outreach by doubling the number of TU students participating in study abroad programs during the past five years, as well as developing strategic partnerships with international business, industry, universities, and cultural organizations, including China University of Petroleum-Beijing, RIPED/PetroChina, Daming Palace Academy, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in India, and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, among others;.
  • A research partnership with Laureate Psychiatric Hospital and the OU Health Sciences Center in pursuit of research in the field of neuroinformatics;.
  • A collaboration with the University of Oklahoma to establish a school of community medicine addressing the acute health care needs of the city and the state;.
  • A partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation to expand TU and Gilcrease Museum art outreach into the Brady District through the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education; .
  • Athletic programs that have earned more than 30 conference championships, more than any other school in Conference USA; and.
  • Introduction of the True Blue Neighbors service initiative, bringing together TU’s collective efforts and financial resources to assist residents of the economically challenged Kendall-Whittier neighborhood.

Prior to coming to TU, Upham served as president and chief executive officer of Claremont Graduate University, a doctoral research university and a member of the Oxford-style consortium known as The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California.

Upham received his Ph.D. degree in anthropology in 1980 from Arizona State University. In 1981, he joined New Mexico State University where he held the positions of chief archaeologist and assistant professor of archaeology. He achieved the rank of tenured professor of archaeology in 1989. Before leaving New Mexico State in 1990, he also served as the faculty affiliate, Center for Social Research (1985 – 1990); curator of Archaeology, University Museum (1984  – 1990); and associate dean of the Graduate School (1987 – 1990).

From 1990 to 1998, Upham worked at the University of Oregon as vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School and professor of anthropology. At Oregon, Upham was responsible for management of the university’s 21 research centers and institutes as well as The River Front Research Park. He also served as the university’s chief administrator for graduate education.

Upham is a widely published archaeologist, having written or edited 10 books and more than 75 book chapters and journal articles. He has lectured extensively in the United States and Canada. While at TU, he has held a concurrent appointment as professor in the Department of Anthropology.

Throughout his career, Upham has been singled out for his achievements as an educator and administrator. In 2001, he received the Academy Gold Medal of Honor by the Academy of Transdisciplinary Learning and Advance Studies. He was named to the Graduate College Hall of Fame by Arizona State University and named an ASU Distinguished Alumnus in 1998. The University of Oregon presented Upham its Martin Luther King, Jr. Award and Director’s Award for Service and Achievement, both in 1998. Early in his academic career, Upham’s teaching skills were recognized by New Mexico State University, which presented him the Donald C. Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1987, and a year later named him a Master Teacher.

Upham’s extensive professional service and accomplishments include commissioner of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools; president of the National Physical Science Consortium; director of The American Mutual Funds; director of the St. Francis Health System; director of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce; director of the American Council on Education; director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); and member of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education National Board.