by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: March 27, 2018 12:00 AM CDT
IN selecting James “Jim” Gallogly as the University of Oklahoma’s next president, the board of regents chose someone who isn’t an academic but fully understands and appreciates the value of a college education. We think it has the potential to be an excellent choice.
Gallogly, 65, boasts a distinguished career in the energy industry, which began with an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and continued with a law degree from OU. He was a traditional student, but saw firsthand the importance of a degree regardless of when it’s earned.
Gallogly’s father, after spending more than 20 years in the military and raising a family of 10 children, pondered returning to school to become a teacher. He had been a C student, but had 2 1/2 years remaining on his GI bill, Gallogly told UC-Colorado Springs graduates during a commencement speech in 2012.
“I was trying to convince my father that it was a very bad idea to go to college,” he said. But his father returned and “graduated in 2 1/2 years with almost straight A’s.”
Gallogly, one of seven finalists for the OU job, will replace David Boren, who is retiring June 30 after a transformational 23-plus years as president. Boren has secured more than $2 billion in gifts and pledges — some of those from Gallogly, who has given generously — resulting in new facilities across OU’s campuses in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The university’s endowed positions have grown six-fold, 20 new academic programs have been added, and OU regularly welcomes more National Merit Scholars than any public university in America.
Simply put, Gallogly inherits high expectations, something he acknowledged Monday in saying, “There will never be another David Boren.” The challenge should suit him well. He spent 29 years at Phillips Petroleum, ChevronPhillips and ConocoPhillips, ultimately leading the company’s worldwide exploration and production division. He left in 2009 to become CEO of Houston-based LyondellBasell, a plastics and refining company that was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time. A year later, the company was out of bankruptcy and today it’s flourishing.
Clay Bennett, OU regents chairman, said all seven finalists were outstanding but that Gallogly “was a clear standout and compelling choice.”
Gallogly “values education so very much,” Bennett said. “He values the student experience, he values the expertise of faculty and he’s a gifted manager — he understands how to put pieces together to be successful, and that’s what we’re all about.
“We have every confidence that he’ll value those constituencies and he’ll be successful.”
An indication of the sort of man OU will have as its leader can be found in those remarks to his alma mater in Colorado Springs six years ago. Gallogly told graduates to work hard, think big, give back (including to their university), help the less fortunate and do things the right way.
“Never compromise your ethics,” he said. “Ethics is not just about avoiding wrong, it’s also about doing right.”
And one other thing: “Dreams never come true if you don’t chase them,” Gallogly said.
We appreciate the work of the search committee, congratulate the regents on their choice, and wish Gallogly well as he works to foster the dreams of OU students today and in the future.