In his first three months as OU president, James Gallogly has outlined a plan for the university's future that includes increasing faculty salaries, freezing tuition and cutting into OU's debt.
But what's not clear is how Gallogly and OU get to that goal.
In his first day on the job, he fired six administrators. Since then, the university has trimmed the national merit scholars program, requested more money from the city for CART services, and discussed centralizing IT and communications services. But it's clear there's more to come. Gallogly himself discussed it during a meeting with faculty and staff on Thursday.
"There's a reason this is a standing-room-only meeting," he said. "So many of you are wondering what is going on at the university and what does it mean to you personally … What does that mean to me? What does that mean to my family, my children, my career and my opportunities at this university? That's the question you would really like to ask and that's the question that we don't have the answer for at this moment in time."
Gallogly has said OU has $1 billion in bonded debt, although, as former president David Boren pointed out in a July op-ed, OU's bonded debt is not unusual for a university of its size, and its debt payments are roughly six percent of the university's operating revenue. Gallogly has repeatedly stated OU needs to be run like a business, which shouldn't be surprising, considering his background in the upper echelon of the corporate world.
But while institutions of higher education certainly need to abide by good business principles, they're not for-profit businesses. They're designed to provide an important service to Oklahomans and others who want to earn a quality education and improve their standing in life. In order to provide those opportunities, OU will have to make decisions that wouldn't make sense in the business world, and fund programs that lose money but provide important services for students, especially students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
OU faculty and staff deserve to know what the next step is. They do want to ask about their families, children, careers and opportunities, and Gallogly and the rest of the OU administration should take the time to have that conversation.