Aerial photo of Lorton Performance Center on the campus of TU on April 13, 2011. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World

University of Tulsa President Gerard Clancy says TU can’t “be all things to all people.”

That deceptive formulation — the school has always operated in a niche and cut programs when I graduated 25 years ago — contains a truth: TU must make tough choices.

Clancy’s choices are the wrong ones.

What justifies TU’s premium is its liberal arts core. Reducing liberal arts to introductory courses for technical specializations will not attract quality faculty, rendering that core hollow.

Students in those specializations may still find the school worth paying for; others will not.

Clancy’s Orwellian “True Commitment” (which abandons TU’s religious and liberal arts origins and aims to “radically alter” the school) is itself dangerously unfocused: an expensive, hopelessly uncompetitive football program, a local museum, a new social justice mission to solve Tulsa’s ills — however worthy, TU’s insufficient resources can afford none of these. None will help TU survive as a premium learning institution for which students are willing to pay.

Administrative bloat is widely seen as a culprit in the explosion of tuition. But while gutting academic programs, Clancy calls for still more administrators, who’ll serve as “student success coaches” for TU’s (supposedly impressive) recruits.

Clancy is right that TU’s “high touch” character is key; but the interactions that make TU worth paying for are those with first-rate professors, not bureaucrats.

This plan is a loser. The trustees should start fresh without relying on those who got TU into this mess.

Jeff Holman, Tulsa

Editor's Note: Jeff Holman graduated from TU in 1994 with degrees in English and accounting.

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