The University of Tulsa welcomed its 21st president on Thursday as Brad Carson assumed leadership of TU, returning to the campus where he taught a decade earlier. Carson was the unanimous choice of TU’s Board of Trustees, which conducted a national search for the university’s next president with input from faculty, staff, students and alumni.
“TU offers a world-class education. It is and must continue to be the best university between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains,” Carson said. “I want to build on that great legacy. From the traditional strengths of engineering, liberal arts and social sciences to professional programs in cyber, business and health care, The University of Tulsa is great across the board. We have remarkable faculty in these disciplines and so much more.”
Having built a distinguished career in public service, law and education, Carson had 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. Prior to that, he served as the under secretary of the U.S. Army.
A Rhodes Scholar, Carson is a widely published authority on national security, energy policy and American politics. From 2001 to 2005, he served two terms as a U.S. congressman. Later, he was appointed to the TU faculty, teaching 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.
Carson said he looks forward to working alongside students, faculty and staff to execute TU’s strategic plan, which calls for centers of excellence in the growing cyber field and the evolving energy industry. He also seeks to increase TU’s public impact and position the university as an active cultural leader in Tulsa and Oklahoma. A thriving TU will build a more successful community, he said. Carson specifically mentioned plans to bring great writers and art exhibitions to Tulsa and invited area residents to come to campus for athletic events and renowned lecturers as the university returns to normalized, post-pandemic operations this fall.
“It is a time of incredible vitality and hope. Tulsa and TU have changed dramatically since I left 10 years ago. I am eager to get to know this new TU better and help it achieve its vision to be one of our country’s outstanding colleges,” Carson said. “I also have established an email account to receive comments and suggestions from the broader public: IdeasforTU@utulsa.edu. I look forward to listening to our community and sharing my vision.”
Carson, 54, succeeds Janet K. Levit, who had served as interim president since January 2020.