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JRCoE Celebrates Keith Ballard

photo of Keith Ballard smiling in a brown chair

OU Celebrates the Life of Keith Ballard

The Oklahoma education community lost a longtime beloved leader earlier this year: Keith Ballard.

Ballard, professor and George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Leadership in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU-Tulsa, was diagnosed late last year with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Over the course of his career, he became widely respected in the education community as an experienced classroom teacher and administrator.

At OU-Tulsa, Ballard was instrumental in the creation of the campus’ education graduate program. Before assuming his teaching role at OU, he served as superintendent for Tulsa Public Schools during a pivotal moment in the district’s recent history. He also led school districts in Claremore and Oologah. Through the years, he became a mentor and teacher to many of the top education administrators in Tulsa and across the country.

This past March, Ballard received a standing ovation at the Oklahoma Capitol, where the House and Senate passed resolutions recognizing his five-decades-long career as a classroom teacher, district administrator and one-time executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Just a few months after his ALS diagnosis, Ballard took some time to discuss his life and legacy as an educator. Several leaders from the Tulsa community also shared how he had influenced their lives and careers, and the difference he made. The video above captures his story and the impact he had on others.

Ballard succumbed to ALS in September. He was 72 years old.

By Bonnie Rucker