Serving the University of Oklahoma for over 26 years in various leadership roles, Joseph Harroz Jr. was named the 15th president of OU on May 9, 2020. Harroz’s previous service to the university includes a one-year term as interim president, nine years as dean of the College of Law, twelve years as general counsel, and two years as vice president for executive affairs.
As president of OU, Harroz led the development of the university’s Strategic Plan – a comprehensive strategy that positions OU as one of the nation’s leading public research universities marked by a transformative student experience. At the heart of the Plan is the university’s fundamental purpose – We Change Lives – three small but powerful words that carry deep meaning. The complete Strategic Plan is available at ou.edu/leadon.
Under Harroz’s leadership, OU is making remarkable strides toward the fulfillment of the Strategic Plan. In fall 2022, OU welcomed its largest, most diverse, and highest academically qualified class in the school’s 132-year history – more than a quarter of whom are first-generation college students. Research at OU has not only recovered from the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, its growth has exceeded the Strategic Plan’s goal of sustained 7% annual growth in research expenditures over seven years, relative to FY2019. As of FY2021, research expenditures reached over $387.2 million university-wide, an increase of 25.3% since the FY2019 benchmark. In addition, the university has enjoyed historic fundraising, receiving a record $317 million in gifts and pledges during FY2022.
Supporting Oklahoma’s workforce is one of OU’s key priorities in the Strategic Plan. OU announced the launch of the OU Polytechnic Institute, a new school in Tulsa with bachelor’s completion and graduate degree programs focused on innovation and advanced technology. The school’s cutting-edge curriculum – developed with industry partners – will focus on applied knowledge, quickly making the region a hub for growth and new jobs. OU significantly expanded the size of its Bachelor of Science in Nursing class this school year by accepting all qualified applicants, allowing more students the opportunity to pursue a nursing career and, in turn, building up the state’s nursing workforce at a time when nurses are needed more than ever. OU’s world-class graduate-level education has been redesigned and expanded to meet the needs of adult learners at a distance without sacrificing quality. Since launching in June 2020, OU has built a portfolio of 45 professional programs focused on state and regional economic needs. What truly distinguishes OU from other online providers is the 81% term-to-term retention rate. Over 3,000 students are currently enrolled and on track to graduate.
An abundance of other successes have come to life since the Strategic Plan’s launch two years ago – the addition of premier freshman housing, the merger of OU Health, joining the SEC, and more. Altogether, these endeavors are sparking a new era of excellence at OU.
A native Oklahoman, Harroz graduated Phi Beta Kappa from OU in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a minor in zoology. He earned his J.D. in 1992 from Georgetown University Law Center. A grandson of Lebanese immigrants to Oklahoma, Harroz is father to Joseph, Zara, and Jude, and is married to Ashley Harroz.