The University of Oklahoma announced today the hiring of Tomás Díaz de la Rubia as OU’s vice president for research and partnerships and Sean Burrage as vice president for executive affairs, pending Board of Regents’ approval.
Díaz de la Rubia will join OU from Purdue University, where he served as chief scientific officer and senior vice president of strategic initiatives. Prior to his position at Purdue University, he was strategy director and innovation leader at Deloitte Consulting’s energy and resources practice group in Washington, D.C. He worked closely with Fortune 500 energy and manufacturing companies to identify new opportunities arising from emerging technologies.
“Dr. Díaz de la Rubia is an exceptional addition and is an ideal leader to spearhead OU’s research growth,” said OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. “He is a game-changing, internationally renowned figure in the field of research discovery. We have made exciting progress in our research efforts the past few years. With him at the helm, I’m confident we will build upon our success and that OU will soon emerge as a national leader in research.”
“My top priority in higher education is to ensure our universities have every competitive advantage to participate in and produce the best research in the nation,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “I commend the University of Oklahoma for its vision to grow research opportunities at the institution and for its active recruitment to bring top-tier talent to the state. It was a pleasure to meet with Tomás Díaz de la Rubia while he was considering the offer, and I am confident his leadership will elevate OU’s reputation on the national stage.”
Díaz de la Rubia’s career started at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where he rose from a staff physicist to chief research officer and deputy director for science and technology, responsible for providing oversight and strategic direction for the laboratory’s $1.6 billion research program.
“Dr. Díaz de la Rubia brings to OU a range of experience that will help open exciting new opportunities for our faculty,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper, Ph.D. “With his appointment, we are well positioned to capitalize on our existing research strengths and to raise our competitive profile as we continue to grow as an institution.”
“Research and creative activity are the fuel of a tier-one institution, and Dr. Díaz de la Rubia’s proven track record and innovative ideas hold out the promise of fostering rapid acceleration in these core areas that are so fundamental to the academic enterprise,” said Faculty Senate Chair Joshua Nelson, Ph.D. “We look forward to great things from his leadership and are pleased to welcome him to campus.”
“This exciting appointment demonstrates the power of what we can accomplish when working together,” said Harroz. “Our thanks go to Gov. Stitt, the state leadership and our search committee for their contributions in welcoming such a top talent to the University of Oklahoma. I’m also especially grateful to Dean Randy Hewes, who has served as interim vice president of research, providing much-needed leadership and expertise.”
Burrage, an accomplished legislator and university administrator, will be responsible for leading, directing, delegating or assisting with strategic projects, including matters involving university officials, community and government leaders.
In 2015, Burrage was appointed to the Governor’s Education Advisory Committee, and in 2017, he was named to the State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education. In his five-year tenure as president of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the university reached record enrollment figures and doubled annual giving.
“As an educator, civic leader and attorney, Mr. Burrage has led a devoted life of public service to Oklahoma,” said Harroz. “He brings to this critical role deep experience in academia, intimate knowledge of our state and a strong commitment to our public mission.”
As a two-term Oklahoma state senator, Burrage built a strong reputation across the political aisle as a smart, strategic and fair-minded statesman.
“Mr. Burrage has tremendous character and intellect,” said search committee member and former Oklahoma State Sen. Glenn Coffee. “Even though we often found ourselves on opposite sides of issues during our time together in the State Senate, I have seen firsthand how skilled he is at strategy. He’ll be a superb addition to the University’s executive team.”
Burrage is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a two-time alumnus of OU, having earned a juris doctorate and bachelor of arts degree in accounting.