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Boren Announces Plans to Retire as President of the University of Oklahoma

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Boren Announces Plans to Retire as President of the University of Oklahoma

President Boren


NORMAN – One of America’s longest-serving presidents of a major university plans to retire next summer. University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced today that he plans to retire after this school year. His retirement will take effect June 30, 2018, unless a permanent successor has not been named by that time, in which case he will remain as President until the search is completed and his successor has been named. Upon his retirement, he will have served as OU’s president for over 23 years.

Boren thanked the OU students, faculty and staff who have been committed to excellence during his time at OU. Boren also expressed his deep gratitude to his wife, Molly Shi Boren, for her full partnership during his tenure.

Boren’s retirement from OU will come after he completes 51 years of public service in Oklahoma. Boren is the first person in state history to have served as Governor of Oklahoma, U.S. Senator and President of the University of Oklahoma. He also served in the Oklahoma Legislature.

Under President Boren’s leadership, the University of Oklahoma has initiated more than 30 new programs and has become a pacesetter in public higher education. Throughout Boren’s 23-year presidency, OU has experienced significant improvement in academic rankings, program growth, private fundraising, national scholarship awards, internationalization, research output, graduation and retention rates, application numbers, student satisfaction, athletic achievement and every other major metric of institutional excellence. OU became the only public university in U.S. history to rank first among all universities, public or private, in National Merit Scholars enrolled. It also became the only university in the nation whose students won the Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, Goldwater, Fulbright and Truman scholarships in the same year.

During his tenure, OU has ranked in the top ten public universities in private fundraising with over $3 billion raised from private donors. Private scholarships for students have quadrupled and endowed faculty positions have increased from 94 to over 550.

Boren is one of a handful of university presidents across the nation who teaches an undergraduate course every semester. He will continue to teach a political science class after his retirement.

A Rhodes Scholar, Boren was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished honorary societies. He will be inducted in October.




Boren as a Public Servant


As an elected official, Boren set records with his election outcomes. In his last U.S. Senate election, he won 83 percent of the vote in the general election, which was the highest margin of victory in any U.S. Senate contest that year. His support from members of both parties varied by only one percent. When Boren and Ronald Reagan both were on the ballot in 1984, each received over 70 percent of the vote, and Oklahoma led the nation in ticket splitting with the bipartisan result. Boren resigned his U.S. Senate seat two years early to become OU’s president.

While in elected office, Boren championed reforms in government and ran with a broom as his symbol. He led efforts to pass open meeting laws for public bodies, legislation to require the recording of all legislative votes, campaign finance disclosure and the reform of competitive bidding procedure.

He started the first educational programs for gifted and talented students, and he helped make Oklahoma one of the top five states in the nation for increases in education during his term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He helped co-author bills to establish the state Vo-Tech system and state-funded community colleges.

He was the founding governor of the Oklahoma Arts Institute. Under his leadership, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence was established. He continues to serve as its chair.

As Governor, he set up voluntary work programs for welfare recipients at state institutions and for a state trails system which reduced the welfare rolls in the state. He led the effort to abolish both the state and federal inheritance taxes between spouses and successfully cut state income taxes while preserving record increases in spending for education.

During his 16 years in the United States Senate, Boren was truly bipartisan and sought to bring senators from both parties together.

He has been committed to strengthening America’s role in the international community throughout his public career. In the Senate, he authored the National Security Education Act, which established the largest overseas scholarship program for American students since the Fulbright Program. As a champion of human rights around the world, Boren played an active role in the release of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. He and Molly Shi Boren were Senate hosts for Mandela’s first visit to the nation’s capital.

Domestically, Boren championed the cause of campaign finance reform in Congress along with the late Senator Barry Goldwater. As the longest-serving chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, he passed major reforms providing more oversight of secret intelligence programs.


New OU Programs Since 1994


While at OU, Boren has initiated more than 30 new programs. The dedication of First Lady Molly Shi Boren, who has led campus beautification efforts, has resulted in OU’s ranking among the 25 most beautiful campuses in America. Mrs. Boren also provided major leadership in the creation of the Institute for Quality Communities, which assists all Oklahoma communities with placemaking and community building. In addition, she championed a new program for religious studies.

Among the new programs that have been created during Boren’s presidency are the Honors College, the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and the Dunham and Headington residential colleges.

In the fall of 1996, President Boren founded the International Program Center to coordinate and promote international activities and programs, enhance the international curriculum, and dramatically increase the study abroad for OU students. In 2011, the International Program Center was elevated to college status and will bear Boren’s name upon his retirement. The College of International Studies was established as a reflection of President Boren’s vision of the importance of equipping OU students to be members of the global community. The percentage of students who choose to study abroad has increased from 2 percent to over 30 percent during his tenure. Additionally, a new flagship international study center was established in Arezzo, Italy.

At the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, the Stephenson Cancer Center and Harold Hamm Diabetes Center have been established as well as new facilities for the College of Allied Health, major landscaping of the campus and construction of the David L. Boren Student Union.

During Boren’s tenure, a new home for OU-Tulsa has been established at the Schusterman Campus. Additionally, the Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic opened in north Tulsa. The TU-OU School of Community Medicine, the first of its kind in the nation, was created in partnership with the University of Tulsa.

Under Boren’s leadership, the Presbyterian Research Park in Oklahoma City became OU’s University Research Park. The research campus he established on the Norman campus was named the best college research campus in the nation in 2013.



1.      Residential Colleges 

Colleges for sophomores, juniors, seniors, and faculty fellows with separate dining halls, seminar rooms, crests and intramural athletic teams.


2.      Honors Fellows

Top university-wide faculty serve three-year terms as Faculty Fellows of the Honors College.


3.      Flat-Rate Tuition Plan

A single flat rate students pay for 12 or more credit hours in a semester.


4.      Faculty-In-Residence Programs

Faculty families living in all major residence halls in faculty apartments.  The Faculty- In-Residence brings mentoring and stimulating programs to students.


5.      President’s Trophy

An annual competition between fraternities, sororities and residence halls in fields like volunteerism, activities and academics recognized with a $5,000 prize and large trophies at our annual ceremony. 


6.      Diversity in Housing

Making sure that students broaden their horizons by preventing cliques in housing.  Students may select one roommate but not suitemates, hallmates or the residence hall in which they will live. 


7.      Honors College

A new college to provide small classes of 18 or less taught by the best faculty for those students who want a challenge.  With 1,800 current participants, it is one of the most successful honors programs in the U.S.


8.      College of International Studies

Established to provide global education and study abroad opportunities and a new study abroad scholarship program for non-affluent students. 


9.      OU Cousins

A new program which matches over 1,000 U.S. students each year with international students to build closer bonds between them. 


10.  Retired Faculty Program

Brings at least 50 retired full professors each year back to the campus to teach primarily introductory classes and mentor freshmen. 


11.  Edith Kinney Gaylord Expository Writing Program

Exposes entering freshmen to intensive writing and editing.  It is based on a program at Harvard. 


12.  Freshman Writing Courses

All freshman writing courses are limited to 22 students.


13.  Religious Studies Program

An interdisciplinary, nonsectarian program that allows students to discuss important spiritual issues and learn about the world’s religions. 


14.  Bench Program

Over 350 commemorative benches which invite conversation have been placed on campus by donors of $2,000 each.


15.  Endowed Campus Beautification

Ten new gardens have been created in the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses with over $2 million in endowments to support them.  Endowments have also been established to light campus buildings at night including Evans Hall, the Oklahoma Memorial Union, and Bizzell Memorial Library. 


16.  Fountains and Sculptures

Approximately 20 new fountains and sculptures have been placed on campus.


17.  Historical Markers

Historical markers have been placed in front of all university buildings in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  Historic photographs have been placed in all major buildings and residence halls.


18.  Archie Dunham Conoco Student Leadership Wing

Built on the back of the Oklahoma Memorial Union to provide side-by-side offices of campus organizations.


19.  Adopt-a-Prof Program

Matching fraternities, sororities and residence halls with volunteer faculty members to create mentoring experiences and intergenerational friendships.


20.  Sooner Yearbook

Restoration of the yearbook, which had not been published for 20 years. 


21.  Senior Class Gift

Restoration of the tradition of a Senior Class gift which had been dormant for over 40 years.


22.  Arbor Day Tradition

Instituted by Mrs. Boren, involving students each year in planting trees on all three campuses.  In the past 23 years, more than 20,000 new trees have been planted on all three campuses.


23.  Oklahoma Memorial Union

Has been revitalized as the center of community, increasing daily student visits from more than 1,000 per day to 15,000 per day.


24.  Safe Ride Program

Provides free transportation to students on a confidential basis if it is unsafe for them to drive.  Also, over 30 new blue emergency phones have been added on campus to improve safety.


25.  Revitalization and Restoration of the Faculty Club

Increases the strength of community among faculty members and graduate students.


26.  Ring Ceremony

Has been created with an annual presentation of class rings to seniors.  Class rings were restored after a long absence.


27.  HSC Crimson Club

Created on the Health Sciences Center campus to create a stronger community, student leadership and knowledge of University history. 


28.  Institute of American Constitutional Heritage

Established to encourage students to learn about our own constitution and its history.  It sponsors our annual “Teach-In” on American history.  Thousands of guests have attended Teach-Ins, which have featured multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning historians.


29.  Leadership Carving Party

A new annual tradition of a Carving Party in the Clarke-Anderson Room of the Oklahoma Memorial Union for leaders and captains of OU organizations and teams to carve their names into a table which will be kept in the Union.  In 100 years, there will be 100 tables preserving student history.


30.  Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth

Established to teach students how to take intellectual property and new ideas and transform them into business plans and new businesses.  Its partnership with new Entrepreneurship programs and a new emphasis on encouraging patent applications by faculty. 


31.  Institute for Quality Communities

Established as a center for interdisciplinary study of the attributes of sustainable communities which supports a high quality of life.  It provides outreach and help to communities across the state of all sizes.   


32.  Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering

Established in response to demand from top scholars at OU for biomedical engineering education. The school builds interdisciplinary relationships to engage in cutting-edge research and its interface with industry.


New, Expanded or Renovated OU Facilities Since 1994


Norman Campus


  1. Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium expansion and renovation (1997, 2003, 2017)
  2. Kaufman Hall renovation
  3. Lin Hall and Homer L. Dodge Physics Complex
  4. Storm-hardened shelters at housing centers
  5. Dunham and Headington Residential Colleges
  6. Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
  7. Catlett Music Center
  8. Donald Reynolds Performing Arts Center and Holmberg Hall renovation
  9. Oklahoma Memorial Union renovation and expansion
  10. Gaylord Hall
  11. Andrew M. Coats Hall
  12. Devon Energy Hall
  13. Jacobson Hall restoration
  14. National Weather Center
  15. Stephenson Research and Technology Center
  16. Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center
  17. Radar Innovations Laboratory
  18. One, Two, Three, Four and Five Partners Place
  19. Mary & Howard Lester Wing, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
  20. Stuart Wing, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
  21. Boyd House restoration
  22. Ellison Hall restoration
  23. Carnegie Building restoration
  24. Collings Hall expansion and renovation
  25. Rawls Engineering Practice Facility
  26. David L. Boren Hall restoration
  27. Cate Center renovation
  28. Headington Hall
  29. Restoration of Walker Center, Couch Center, Adams Center and Couch Restaurants
  30. Traditions Square East and West apartments
  31. Old Science Hall restoration
  32. Anne and Henry Zarrow Hall
  33. Lissa and Cy Wagner Hall
  34. Farzaneh Hall renovation
  35. Gould Hall renovation
  36. Sarkeys Fitness Center restoration & expansion
  37. Richard and Jan Marie Crawford University Club renovation – Oklahoma Memorial Union
  38. Sarkeys Energy Center restoration
  39. Faculty-in-Residence Apartments
  40. Helmerich Collaborative Learning Center – Bizzell Memorial Library
  41. Zarrow Faculty and Graduate Student Center – Bizzell Memorial Library
  42. Great Reading Room restoration – Bizzell Memorial Library
  43. Scholars Walk
  44. Campus street and infrastructure improvements
  45. OU Police Department Headquarters
  46. Cross Neighborhood development
  47. Gallogly Hall
  48. Everest Training Center
  49. Lloyd Noble Center expansion and renovation (2001, 2017)
  50. McCasland Field House renovation
  51. Marita Hynes Field – OU Softball Complex
  52. Gregg Wadley Indoor Tennis Pavilion
  53. Headington Family Tennis Center
  54. Sam Viersen Gymnastics Center renovation
  55. OU Rowing Training Center
  56. Jimmie Austin Golf Course and Charlie Coe Learning Center
  57. John Jacobs Track & Field Complex renovation
  58. John Jacobs Track & Field Complex renovation
  59. Price Hall
  60. Tom Love Innovation Hub


Health Sciences Center


  1. David L. Boren Student Union
  2. Harold Hamm Diabetes Center
  3. University Village Apartments
  4. M. Dewayne Andrews Academic Office Tower
  5. College of Allied Health Building
  6. Stephenson Cancer Center
  7. Children's Hospital and Clinic expansion
  8. Family Medicine Building
  9. Dermatology Clinic renovation
  10. Stanton L. Young Walk & central campus
  11. Physicians Clinic Building
  12. Picnic Pavilion and Student Intramural Field
  13. Toby Keith OK Kids Korral
  14. Hotel and Conference Center
  15. University Research Park acquisition & development
  16. Gene Rainbolt Graduate School of Business facility




  1. Schusterman Center acquisition and construction
  2. OU Physicians Clinic
  3. Learning Center
  4. Schusterman Library
  5. Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic




  1. OU in Arezzo, Italy, international study center
  2. OU in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, international study center
  3. OU in Puebla, Mexico, international study center

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