President Upham's Letter to Campus - April 2011


The last two decades have been a time of transformation for The University of Tulsa. When one considers the magnitude of change in our academic community during this period it is truly breathtaking. TU has become a top 100 national doctoral university because of the quality of our academic programs and the talent of our students and faculty. We have added over one million square feet in state-of-the-art new facilities to our campus, while creating welcoming open spaces along with walkways and landscaping that make our grounds among the most beautiful in the country. And we have raised more than $500,000,000 in support of our “Embrace the Future” campaign. We are truly indebted to our trustees and to every donor and friend of the university who have made our dreams a reality.

Each member of the TU Family owns a part of these remarkable achievements that have positioned the university for even greater accomplishments in the future. Thank you for your commitment and steadfastness in helping us achieve so many of our goals.

Every period of accomplishment in the life of a university defines a new beginning. As a result, we are now able to open doors and pursue directions that were not possible a decade ago. The university is well positioned to advance. Our finances are growing; enrollment is strong; and the quality of our faculty, staff, and students has never been higher. We have charted exciting new directions for the future with our decision to form the School of Community Medicine in partnership with the University of Oklahoma, and with our leadership and management of Thomas Gilcrease Museum for the City of Tulsa.

And progress continues. Next year TU’s School of Art, Gilcrease Museum’s education programs, and programming from our College of Lifelong Learning will expand into downtown Tulsa with the opening of the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education in the heart of the Brady District. The overwhelming commitment of the TU Family to the True Blue Neighbors Program during the last two years has made a dramatic impact on our neighborhood schools, the food bank, social service agencies in Tulsa, and a host of other community constituencies. TU’s outreach into the community is having a constructive impact on both the education of our students and the quality of life in our great city.

With so much positive forward movement, it is an opportune time to think about leadership of the university. Over the past several months, I have contemplated just what kind of leadership is needed now to advance TU. I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is what TU needs most to build upon the progress we have made.

This morning, I notified the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees that I plan to retire as president of The University of Tulsa on June 30, 2012 in order to pursue teaching and research at TU and other activities. The trustees have graciously offered me the title of President Emeritus and University Professor which I will assume at that time. During the coming year, the Board of Trustees will organize and conduct a thorough national search for my successor. Along with the trustees, TU’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends of the university will be involved in this process to help identify and recruit the next president.

With new leadership comes new energy and ideas. I firmly believe that it is in the best interests of the university to have a leadership change at a time when the university is prospering and pursuing great opportunities. We are strong now, and with renewed leadership we shall get stronger.

In the meantime, I will continue to serve during the coming year with the same enthusiasm that initially brought me to TU as president. Being a part of The University of Tulsa during this time of progress has been the pinnacle of my more than 30 years in higher education, and serving as your president is the greatest honor and privilege of my professional life.

All best,