TU's statement on Orsak's firing light on details
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, September 14, 2012
9/14/12 at 8:06 AM
Read TU board Chairman Duane Wilson’s email addressing the president’s firing.
Faculty and staff members, students, alumni and donors of the University of Tulsa were emailed a statement Thursday concerning the school's firing of President Geoffrey Orsak, although the statement offered few new details.
"Discretion and university policy dictate that I not discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the decision, except to underscore my confidence in the collective wisdom of the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees," TU board Chairman Duane Wilson said in the statement.
"Our board comprises some of the most experienced leaders of our community, who have successfully managed through a wide range of challenges. I appreciate and applaud the serious and thoughtful insight that each trustee brought to these deliberations, and I am confident that the board reached the conclusion that best serves our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and many partners."
Wilson led the search committee that recommended Orsak's hiring in May.
His statement said the firing has brought "intense interest and many questions" from TU stakeholders and the general public.
While the school recognizes the public's "significant interest" in the firing, Wilson said the school "will not discuss the details behind the board's decision" because of the school's personnel policies and its status as a private institution.
He repeated the school's decision to put Executive Vice President Kevan Buck in charge of day-to-day administrative affairs.
"Kevan has a wealth of experience overseeing the university's business functions and core operating units," Wilson said. "We are moving forward with business as usual and foresee no problems with our interim arrangement."
The school is discussing how to select a new president and will keep the stakeholders informed on that process, Wilson promised.
He also expressed sympathy for Orsak, who is facing a family medical crisis simultaneously with his firing.
"Although unavoidable, the timing of this decision was particularly unfortunate, given the additional challenges that the Orsak family faces with the care of Dr. Orsak's ailing father," Wilson said. "We wish all of them well during this difficult time and in their future endeavors."
Orsak told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that he has returned to Dallas to be with his father, who has a brain tumor and is in hospice care.
TU's original announcement concerning Orsak - released on Tuesday - said he was taking a leave of absence to attend to his father's health challenge. The next day the school announced the president's firing, although it didn't offer any explanation.
In his statement to the World, Orsak didn't offer any more details on his firing than the school did.
"I am very disappointed given the lengthy due diligence process for the position that within such a short period of time the board has decided to go in a different direction," Orsak said.
Orsak, whose bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering all come from Rice University, took office as TU's 18th president on July 1. He previously was the dean of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University.
Original Print Headline: Statement on Orsak firing omits details
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Geoffrey Orsak: The 18th TU president was dismissed Wednesday. A statement from the school Thursday did not clarify why Orsak was fired