Upham to return as TU president
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, September 21, 2012
9/21/12 at 7:11 AM
University of Tulsa President Emeritus Steadman Upham will return to the school's top leadership post effective Oct. 1, the school's board of trustees announced Thursday.
Upham's return to Tulsa was preceded by the Sept. 12 firing of President Geoffrey Orsak only 74 days after Orsak took office.
Upham, 63, led TU for the eight years prior to Orsak's brief tenure. He has agreed to return to the school for up to two years.
Reached at his home in Santa Fe, N.M., Upham said he was surprised to be headed back into the school's top office but was pleased that it will mean he will return to a city and a university that he loves.
He said he thought the school's trustees had handled the Orsak situation well and that TU isn't in turmoil, but his first job in office will be to carefully assess the situation before continuing the school's push toward established academic and institutional goals.
"I think I should go in listening and then push up. We've got work to do," Upham said. "I want to go back and do what I can to help the university."
Upham, who retired June 30, oversaw an era of academic and physical growth for the school, raising more than $700 million and helping it rise to No. 75 among national research universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey.
"I have every confidence that the University of Tulsa is as strong as ever, and I look forward to helping ensure TU has a smooth transition into its next historic phase," Upham said. "I sincerely love this university and this city, and I am glad to be of service at this crucial time."
TU Board Chairman Duane Wilson said Upham will provide the university with the leadership it requires.
"Stead knows TU inside and out and is respected by our students, faculty, alumni and friends," Wilson said. "The board agreed that this stabilizing force will allow us to move forward deliberately and without haste in selecting TU's next president."
The trustees have not announced a timeline for a presidential search.
Upham said travel plans and other obligations will keep him busy until his return.
On Sept. 11, TU announced Orsak was taking a leave of absence "to attend to a very serious health matter of his father in Dallas."
The next day, the school announced Orsak had been fired effective immediately.
School officials have refused to offer any details for the decision or whether the two announcements were related.
Orsak later confirmed by email that he was in Dallas and was taking care of his father, who had a brain tumor. Given the lengthy process of candidate selection, Orsak said he was disappointed that "the board has decided to go in a different direction" so quickly.
Orsak also didn't offer any details on what had happened.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, William Funk, the Dallas-based consultant who worked with TU on its last presidential search, declined to answer on-the-record questions about the search process.
Kevan Buck, TU's executive vice president, has been in charge of day-to-day operations at the school since Orsak's departure.
Original Print Headline: Upham to resume role as TU president
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Steadman Upham: "I sincerely love this university and this city, and I am glad to be of service at this crucial time," Upham said