The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees selected Brad Carson as TU’s next university president during a special meeting Monday, April 5. President-elect Carson officially begins his term on July 1, 2021.
“Today, the TU Board of Trustees unanimously selected Brad Carson as TU’s 21st president,” said Dana Weber, board chair. “Brad is an experienced and empowering leader and public servant who has demonstrated his ability to competently lead complex organizations through change. Working alongside our faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and broader TU community, I have confidence he will build on our strong foundation, bring our new strategic plan to fruition and spearhead a truly bright future for TU, for Tulsa and for our region.”
In July, the board formed a 13-member Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Trustee Marcia MacLeod, and included representatives from the Faculty Senate, Staff Advisory Council and the Student Association. As part of the national search led by global executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry, the committee broadly solicited community input on the characteristics desired for TU’s next president. These were used to inform and guide the evaluation of each candidate. Interest in the opportunity was high as was the caliber of candidates under consideration. Finalists participated in multiple rounds of interviews and meetings, including with the entire Faculty Senate Steering Committee.
“TU is one of the intellectual treasures of our nation, and I am grateful to the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee for providing me the opportunity to serve this great institution. In a real way, The University of Tulsa is as much an idea as an institution: a pact between the past, with its glorious achievements, and the future, with its attendant possibilities. I am particularly excited about the new strategic plan and the great opportunities it contains. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and look forward to getting to Tulsa, getting on campus and meeting with and learning from all of you.”
– Brad Carson
Having built a distinguished career in public service, law and education, Carson has been a professor at the University of Virginia since 2018, teaching courses related to national security and public sector innovation. He also served as a senior advisor at Boston Consulting Group. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed Carson acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness at the U.S. Department of Defense. There, he oversaw the human resources, military readiness, education, training and health care of the nearly 5 million service members, civilian employees and their dependents within the Department of Defense and managed an internal organization of 30,000 employees.
Prior to that, Carson served as the under secretary of the U.S. Army, where he managed the daily operations of the largest military service, and as general counsel of the U.S. Army, where he oversaw the service’s worldwide legal operations. A Rhodes Scholar, he is widely published and is a noted authority on national security, energy policy and American politics. From 2001 to 2005, Carson served two terms as a U.S. congressman, representing Oklahoma’s 2nd District. Later, he was appointed to the faculty of the business school and law school at The University of Tulsa, where he taught academic courses on energy policy, property law, negotiation and game theory, globalization and law and literature. In 2008, Carson deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom as an intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
“Brad Carson’s entire career as a public servant, professor, counselor and leader, embodies a commitment to excellence and demonstrates that leading and learning are always his primary focus,” MacLeod said. “The committee was charged to find a proven leader with the experience, integrity and compassion needed to lead our university through the challenges ahead, and we found one.”
In addition, Carson brings to TU a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, having spent most of his career working, directly or indirectly, in this area, an interest that arises naturally from his childhood growing up on Indian reservations around the country and, later, representing the congressional district that is home to the Cherokee Nation. Carson served as president and chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses, where he refocused the organization’s corporate strategy and governance and significantly increased revenues.
“I am thrilled that TU will have Brad as its next president,” said Interim President Janet K. Levit. “He is a brilliant leader with deep roots in Tulsa and TU. I am confident that he will bring his wealth of experience – from government, politics, tribal leadership, the private sector and academia – to innovate, to collaborate and to lead TU to greater heights.” Levit will continue to lead TU and support a seamless transition through the end of June.
“The TU Board of Trustees would like to express our gratitude to everyone who participated in this process, especially the members of the Presidential Search Committee who dedicated their valuable time, knowledge and perspective to this process,” Weber said. “The committee members were dedicated to finding the right leader for our university and really listened to the community, captured what they heard and applied it to the process. This great result speaks for itself.”
A native Oklahoman, Carson received his B.A. from Baylor University and was a Rhodes Scholar prior to earning his J.D. at the University of Oklahoma. Carson is married to Julie Kruse Carson, an attorney at the U.S. Department of Defense, and they have a son, Jack, who is 15.