In celebration of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa’s 15th anniversary, the university will honor five individuals for their contributions to transforming higher education in Tulsa.
The OSU-Tulsa Founders being honored include former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, former Oklahoma Sen. Charles Ford, former Oklahoma Sen. Penny Williams, former OSU President Jim Halligan and founding OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl.
“The OSU-Tulsa Founders each played a key role in the establishment and growth of OSU-Tulsa. Their efforts have afforded thousands of citizens in northeastern Oklahoma the opportunity to pursue a college degree,” said OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett. “The 15th anniversary of OSU-Tulsa is the perfect time to remember and honor those individuals who have helped us get there from here.”
Ford and Williams provided the legislative leadership to create OSU-Tulsa. Ford authored Senate Bill 1426, which established the OSU-Tulsa campus on the site of the former University Center at Tulsa. Williams was co-author of the bill. Keating signed by the bill at a special ceremony in 1998 and OSU-Tulsa officially opened on Jan. 1, 1999.
Keating served two terms as Oklahoma’s 25th governor from 1995-2003. During his years in office, Keating pushed for education reform, increased funding for higher education facilities and encouraged the development of programs to help more Oklahomans earn college degrees. He is currently president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, which serves as a voice for the nation’s banking industry.
A native Tulsan, Ford served 14 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and 24 years in the Oklahoma Senate. During his time in the legislature, Ford was an advocate of new higher education in opportunities in Tulsa, co-authoring the bill that established Tulsa Community College in 1968 and authoring the bill to create the University Center at Tulsa in 1980. Ford also serves on the OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees.
First elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1981, Williams was a long-time advocate of higher education in Tulsa. After 7 years in the House, she was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1989 and served until 2004. During her legislative career, Williams was instrumental in creating the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and authored the Art in Public Places Act.
As OSU president, Halligan saw the need for an OSU campus in Tulsa and pushed for the establishment of OSU-Tulsa under the motto, “One University, Multiple Campuses.” Halligan, who was honored as an OSU in Tulsa Icon at A Stately Affair in 2013, currently serves in the Oklahoma Senate representing Stillwater and the people of District 21.
In the fall of 1999, Trennepohl, then dean of the Spears School of Business, became the first president of the new OSU-Tulsa campus. Under his leadership, OSU-Tulsa established a reputation for high quality academic programs, grew enrollment from 870 in 1999 to more than 3,000 students, and built the Helmerich Research Center to create a state-of-the-art training and research space for students and faculty in mechanical, electrical and materials science and engineering.
The OSU-Tulsa Founders will be honored at a special luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the Helmerich Research Center. To learn more about OSU-Tulsa’s 15th anniversary celebration, visit www.osu-tulsa.okstate.edu/15years.