Dear University of Tulsa Community,
My recent and unexpected medical episode has mandated me to stop working, rest and reflect at the deepest levels: Reflecting on my health, my strengths and weaknesses, where we have been as an institution and where we need to go as an institution.
As my current contract as President comes to a close, I discussed my skills and abilities with the Board of Trustee leadership in the context of the work that must be accomplished over the next few years at TU. My most recent medical episode has accelerated these discussions. Since I took this position, I have promised my family that if my health was affected, I would step down as President. That day has come. I will be stepping down as President of The University of Tulsa, effective January 30th, 2020. This is my own decision and Paula and I do this with great love for The University of Tulsa, our students, the staff, the faculty, our alumni and the Board of Trustees.
As an institution, we have made progress in important areas over the past four years.
- Implementation of Our Strategic Plan – We have become much more data-driven and from this understanding, developed a solid strategic plan. We have looked honestly at how we perform with retention and graduation rates, how we perform with Pell eligible students, creating a welcoming campus for an ever increasingly diverse student body, helping our first generation students settle into our campus community, helping with the increasing financial pressures on our students and families and how we must prepare our students for a very different job market.
- Focus on Student Success – Together we have built new systems for student success for all of our students. I am particularly proud of our students in their work to shift our campus culture on ending the stigma around mental illness and their assertive work on sexual assault and binge drinking prevention. We have built new systems of support for our student veterans who have higher grade point averages, graduation rates and job placements than traditional students across the U.S. Our alumni have enthusiastically endorsed our strategic plan and joined in to assist our efforts for student success.
- Revenue Growth – For the past three years we have seen steady growth in our domestic freshmen enrollment, setting a record enrollment for the 2019 freshmen class, off-setting to a degree a significant decline in international student enrollment as many universities have experienced.
- Operational Excellence – This past year, we began the important work of reviewing all of our administrative, operational and academic programs and the phase out of academic programs with consistently low enrollment. We have put in place pathways for academic programs to reimagine themselves to increase enrollment and financial efficiency. For some in our campus community, these academic reviews and phase out plans have come with understandable heartache.
In advancing TU over these past 4 years, Paula and I have applied our personal strengths and as much time as possible to the success of TU. We focused on student acceptance, student success, affordability and meaningful experiences for our students. We have been able to achieve enrollment and fundraising growth as important components of a sustainable TU. We thank all involved in this heavy pull.
That said, personal insight is an important aspect of leadership. As I reflect on these successes and our momentum, I recognized that our revenues are not increasing at a pace to match our expenses. It is vital that as a community we come together to focus our efforts on strengthening efficiency and operational excellence. This future work is complex, detailed and will require strong leadership.
While I am stepping down as President, I am pleased that the Board of Trustees has asked me to continue to contribute to TU in my areas of expertise and strength – particularly fundraising, student recruitment, and developing corporate and civic partnerships, once I am able to do so.
I also look forward to returning to teaching and research program development in areas that I helped establish earlier in my career including the Oxley College of Health Sciences, the OU – TU School of Community Medicine, our emerging neuroscience programs and community work in improving our systems of care for those with mental illness and addiction.
Paula and I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the TU community as President and First Lady over these past 4 years. As I have said numerous times to our students, work will not always be happy but it should be fulfilling. We both believe that a college degree is the single best way for a person to change their life’s trajectory and for that student’s family members as well. I can think of no more fulfilling work than changing one’s trajectory in life as we do each and every day.
Gerard P. Clancy, M.D.
The University of Tulsa