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Past Accomplishments

Notable Highlights and Achievements

The OU Board of Regents named Joseph Harroz Jr. President of the
University of Oklahoma on May 9, 2020.

President Harroz served as the Interim President of the University from May 2019 to May 2020 and over the past 12 months, the University has remained focused on its strategic priorities, gaining momentum on our forward path.

Interlocking OU on Football Field Made of Class of 2023


Enrollment Growth

In the fall of 2019, OU welcomed the largest first-year class in its history. Made up of more than 4,500 students, the Class of 2023 represents a commitment to attracting the very best to the University of Oklahoma. Their class make-up represents 34% from historically underrepresented minority groups, and 24% as first-generation college students. With an average ACT score of 26.0 and a collective GPA of 3.62, these students comprise one of OU’s most academically qualified classes.

Rankings and Recognition

In September, U.S. News & World Report ranked OU No. 60 in its list of Top Public Schools. As part of the U.S. News Best Colleges list, the Price College of Business’s undergraduate program was named a Top 50 business program in the nation, achieving a decades-long goal.

The same body ranked OU’s Stephenson Cancer Center in the Top 50 in the country and OU Medicine the No. 1 hospital system in Oklahoma for 2019-20. The Stephenson Cancer Center was also awarded National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation, making it among the top 2% of cancer centers in the nation.

In January, OU’s online programs placed in U.S. News’ top 10 rankings for the fourth consecutive year, ranking No. 7 in the category of overall best online bachelor’s programs, No. 5 for best online bachelor’s programs for veterans, No. 8 for best online master’s criminal justice programs and No. 6 in the category for best online master’s criminal justice programs for veterans. Additional online degree programs offered by OU earned impressive placements in the U.S. News rankings, including No. 41 best online master’s information technology programs.

In February, OU was again selected as a “Best Value College for 2020” by The Princeton Review. Only 7% of the nation’s four-year colleges were included in the rankings, and OU is the only public university in Oklahoma to make the list. OU is included in other rankings by The Princeton Review, including its position as the No. 5 school in the nation with the Happiest Students. The Review also lists OU as a Top Green College.

Strategic Plan

Over the course of several months, constituencies were engaged at every level – students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, corporate partners, and government leaders – asking important questions to determine a strategy for the future. More than 5,000 responses were submitted to a survey soliciting feedback on the strategy. The clear message conveyed by the results is that OU should be the home of opportunity and excellence.

In March 2020, the Regents received an initial draft of the strategic plan, and OU leaders are in the midst of receiving feedback from the board and are refining the plan in hopes to have a final approved draft at an upcoming meeting.

Person looking into microscope


Research Growth

The University continues its strong pursuit toward a new level of excellence and impact in research and creative activity, spearheaded by Dr. Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, who joined OU in October 2019 as the Norman campus Vice President for Research and Partnerships. OU’s research expenditures for July 2019 through March 2020 have increased 10.41%, compared to that same time frame in fiscal year 2019.

One of OU’s newest and most exciting research initiatives is a $9 million research collaboration with Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, one of Peru’s largest and oldest public research universities. Through this partnership, faculty at OU and UNSA from all relevant academic disciplines – from atmospheric sciences to the humanities – will work together to tackle some of the most daunting challenges faced by the populations of Peru and Latin America.

Other notable research initiatives include:

  • OU obtained a grant from NASA for its Earth science mission – the Geostationary Carbon Observatory (GeoCarb) mission, which is targeted for launch into space early this decade. This mission studies how and why the global carbon cycle is changing and monitors plant health and vegetation stress throughout the Americas.
  • OU Medicine, the OU Health Sciences Center and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation collaborated to create a new test for COVID-19 using technology and reagents from Fluidigm Corporation, an innovative biotechnology tools provider. The test is intended for large-scale testing of patients across the OU Medicine healthcare system, with the capacity to test 180,000 samples over the next 90 days.
  • OU researchers have collaborated with Norman based Immuno-Mycologics Inc. (IMMY) to develop a validated testing protocol that has increased the amount of COVID-19 testing conducted in the state.
Gender Equality Center Ribbon Cutting


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion is a top priority at the University of Oklahoma. Creating and sustaining a culture of inclusivity and equity at OU strikes at the very core of our humanity. As President Harroz often says, “To be truly successful, this important work must be approached boldly, honestly, and with clear eyes.”

Over the past 12 months, OU has implemented substantive structural changes to elevate and expand its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. At his first Regents meeting as Interim President in June 2019, President Harroz asked the board to approve the renaming of the Office of University Community to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as elevating the leadership role to executive officer status. In October, President Harroz announced the appointment of Dr. Belinda Higgs Hyppolite as OU’s new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer.

President Harroz’s inaugural Presidential Speakers Series Dinner, which concentrated on the theme of race and equity, helped kickstart a week of events in September dedicated to honoring OU’s civil rights history and leaders. In January, the University held its first-ever Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Week to celebrate and promote the importance of these efforts throughout the OU community.

OU’s ongoing commitment to becoming a true place of belonging is physically represented in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the OU Gender + Equality Center – two spaces that were officially dedicated early in the spring 2020 semester.

Through a deliberate focus on increasing education, diversity training, and honest conversations with faculty, staff, and students, OU is making progress toward creating a more inclusive and welcoming culture.


Center for Quantum Research and Technology

In October 2019, the OU community gathered in Lin Hall to dedicate OU’s Center for Quantum Research and Technology. Quantum research and its applications are remaking the landscape of our world and effecting tectonic changes on society. This center puts OU in a position to not only be a part of that work, but to lead in it. Students and faculty will pursue groundbreaking, life-changing research here that will undoubtedly benefit future generations. A generous gift from the Avenir Foundation helped establish the center.

OU Online

In the fall of 2019, President Harroz announced the launch of a special project to explore how the University can build upon its online education successes and expand its ability to reach students in Oklahoma and beyond. OU Online will define the structure, build the culture, and improve the efficiency of OU colleges launching new graduate programs while enhancing the quality of current programming. By unifying efforts, OU can serve a new, more diverse segment of students and become the clear regional leader for high quality online learning at the graduate level.

Major Gifts

Person looking into microscope


Stephenson Cancer Center Gift

In November 2019, OU announced a transformative $20 million gift to the OU Stephenson Cancer Center from the Stephenson Family Foundation. The gift expands the University’s research mission, going toward the recruitment of world-class scientists, the creation of new endowed chairs, and more. The Stephenson Cancer Center is a place unlike any other in the state, providing treatments and clinical trials that save individual lives and lead to helping so many more. The impact of a gift like this is stunning, with 1 in 6 Oklahomans diagnosed with cancer receiving some form of treatment at the Stephenson Cancer Center. To honor the Charles and Peggy Stephenson and their generosity, the University pledged to raise $20 million to match the Stephenson gift to go toward lifesaving research and treatment.


Person looking into microscope


Horizon Foundation Gift

In March 2020, the University announced a $4.8 million gift from the Horizon Foundation of Dallas, which will help establish OU as the premier center for Native American research and teaching. The gift to the OU Foundation will formally launch the OU Native Peoples Initiative, which places the cultures of Native peoples and the sovereignty of Native Nations at the center of academic study across all three OU campuses. The gift will establish three $1.5 million endowed chairs attracting nationally recognized scholars in Native American Studies: Native American spirituality and the environment, Native American history and culture, and Native American language preservation and revitalization. An additional $300,000 gift will underwrite a building study to provide a home for the OU Native Nations Center and the Native American Studies Department, as well as classrooms and spaces for community events and interdisciplinary research.