Jacob Howland writes for the Martin Center about disturbing news from one university west of the Mississippi.
Since April, I’ve witnessed the ongoing destruction of the University of Tulsa (TU) by a cadre of wealthy and powerful people affiliated with the billionaire George Kaiser.
Kaiser is the controlling shareholder of the Bank of Oklahoma Financial (BOKF), which handles much of TU’s business and is the corporate trustee of its $1.2 billion endowment. Frederic Dorwart, the chairman of TU’s board of trustees, is BOKF’s general counsel and president of the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF). TU President Gerard Clancy sits on BOKF’s board; Steven Bradshaw, BOKF’s CEO, sits on TU’s board of trustees. TU trustee Chester Cadieux III sits on the boards of both BOKF and GKFF. TU provost Janet Levit is the wife of Ken Levit, the CEO of GKFF, which will eventually be the primary shareholder of BOKF. (I tried to make sense of these ethically bewildering entanglements in an article I wrote for The Nation.)
After Dorwart and Levit took office in the spring of 2018, the administration pushed through True Commitment, a restructuring plan that eliminated 40 percent of the university’s academic programs, dissolved all academic departments, and raised teaching loads. They did so in secret, using seriously flawed data fed to a handpicked committee whose members were required to sign blanket non-disclosure agreements. (I reported on these matters in City Journal.) Since then, the administration has engaged in a pattern of bullying and intimidation that has recently reached a crisis point.