It was one of Ronald Reagan’s best lines: “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” The Gipper, however, apparently never met new University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly.
As The Oklahoman reported (“University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly cut, reorganized his executives on first day”), Gallogly trimmed administrative overhead on his first day at work, saving money while sending unmistakable signals that the days of ever-expanding bureaucracies at the university were over.
Gallogly, who vowed when he was hired to tackle OU’s annual operational deficit of some $36 million and an overall debt load of nearly a billion dollars, drew a sharp contrast with the administration of his predecessor, David Boren. Whereas Boren constantly cried poverty and pushed for a penny sales tax on every working Oklahoma household to bolster and further expand the OU bureaucracy, Gallogly has emphasized his intention to trim administrative overhead, stop annual tuition increases, and use those savings to give raises to teaching faculty members.
In short, he wants to deploy university dollars to make education more affordable for students and reward the people who actually teach them.
This is such a radical departure from the Boren years that the defenders of big-government payrolls were apparently struck dumb by Gallogly’s action. No one rose up to defend the swarm of six-figure executives as they were shown the door.
Indeed, the student newspaper at OU quoted Paul Bell, an emeritus dean, as noting that under Boren high-salaried vice presidents had proliferated like weeds. “I’ve been a faculty member here now for 39 years, and one of the things that’s happened over that period of time is the gradual proliferation in the number of vice presidents, and when David Boren came, the number of vice presidents really took off,” he said.
In addition to discharging some executives, Gallogly announced plans to combine some positions, shift the reporting channels for others, and drop the number of senior executives reporting directly to the university president from 25 to 17. That sounds a lot like something bureaucracies are rarely known for—efficiency.
Keep in mind that this is one morning’s work. At this rate, it may not be long until OU’s operational deficits are erased entirely and work begins on whittling away the institutional debt. Look out, Mitch Daniels.
After that? Well, maybe the next Governor of Oklahoma can drive down to Norman and learn how to reduce bloated overhead while making a sprawling agency more efficient.