James Gallogly has been selected as the next president of the University of Oklahoma. OCPA president Jonathan Small says “it’s a terrific hire.”
Gallogly aims for OU to be elite. For example, one of his goals “is to have the College of Engineering be on a par with the Purdues of the world, the MITs.” That makes sense for Oklahoma, which will continue to need STEM graduates. Gallogly has spent a career working with (and hiring) them.
As it happens, there’s much to learn from Purdue in other areas as well.
Higher education is designed to guarantee excessive spending, Purdue president Mitch Daniels wrote recently in the Tulsa World. Much of it stays “in the pockets of the lucky producers.”
But that’s changing. In what’s been called the Purdue Miracle, in his five years as university president the former governor has frozen tuition every year, cut room-and-board costs, and (via an innovative partnership with Amazon.com) saved students money on their textbooks.
“There was no secret sauce,” USA Today editorialized, “just a little sensible pruning that would be ordinary in the business world but seems alien in much of academia.”
There’s work to do at OU, too, and Gallogly seems to be sending the right signals. “I want to say to our legislature and our governor, we will be excellent stewards,” he says. “We will not have waste on campus.”
That’s smart. He’s doubtless aware that Oklahoma voters don’t place a high priority on taxpayer subsidies for higher education. And sometimes it seems that OU, with its various political-correctness follies, is trying to make matters worse.
And that’s significant. American Enterprise Institute adjunct scholar Richard Vedder, who helps compile the annual college rankings for Forbes, tells of an e-mail conversation he once had with one of the 20th century’s greatest economists, Milton Friedman. “The spread of PC [political correctness] right now would seem to be a very strong negative externality, and certainly the 1960s student demonstrations were negative externalities from higher education,” Friedman said. “A full analysis along those lines might lead you to conclude that higher education should be taxed to offset its negative externalities.”
“The regents have hired a forward-thinking chief executive who aims for academic excellence,” Small says. We wish him success.