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OU Celebrates President Harroz’s Inauguration

OU Celebrates President Harroz’s Inauguration

Harroz at inauguration event

In a ceremony filled with tradition, reflection and optimism, Joseph Harroz Jr. was formally inaugurated last Friday as the 15th president of the University of Oklahoma.

The inauguration stood as a ceremonial marker of Harroz’s presidency, which began May 9, 2020, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the postponement of celebratory events.

In his inaugural address, Harroz emphasized that the pageantry of the ceremony is not about the individual, but the institution.

“These moments are about pausing, just for a moment, and rededicating and recommitting ourselves to the reason behind great universities – the critical nature of who they are and what they do for us,” Harroz said.

Reflecting on both the original mission of OU and the vision for its future, Harroz underscored the importance of the university equally serving the individual, the state and society.

“As we’re here today, and we think about ‘Where do we stand?’ it’s with unbelievable optimism,” Harroz said. “There are so many positive things going on, and yes, we have challenges. The key is that we do not shrink from this challenge – that we understand the 130 years that we received as a gift.”

After being officially installed as OU’s president by Board of Regents Chair Michael Cawley, Harroz was presented with three symbols of his authority as president: the collar of office, presented by student leaders; the presidential mace, presented by Faculty Senate leaders; and a framed copy of the charge of office, presented by Staff Senate leaders.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Sen. James Lankford, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice, Gov. Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chair Jeffrey Hickman, members of the OU Board of Regents, elected officials and tribal leaders, many members of Harroz’s family, as well as faculty, staff, students and alumni.

As Harroz concluded his remarks, he recalled the final words of the OU Chant – “Live On, University” – noting that these words are a challenge for each member of the OU community to uphold as we look toward the future.

“[The university] does not move forward by itself. It moves forward by all of us working together,” Harroz said.

Last week’s inauguration events began Thursday evening with a celebration dinner featuring presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham, preceded by welcoming remarks offered by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole.

band students play horns at event
Kiowa members in traditional dress present flags of US and OK at event

Members of the Kiowa Black Leggings Society present the colors for the national anthem.

faculty member in regalia stands in front of line of international flags
view of poduim with speaker at the event

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chair Jeffrey Hickman offers remarks.

platform party assembled at the event
Harroz poses with SGA leaders at the event

Student Government Association leaders Eric Edwards (Health Sciences Center), James Hutchison (Norman campus) and Tim Philip (OU-Tulsa) place the collar of office on President Harroz. The sterling silver collar symbolizes the links that bind the president to all students, faculty and staff. It also represents more than 130 years of tradition that join all 15 OU presidents in a line of succession. At the center of the collar is the university seal medallion.

Harroz recieves mace from Kornelson

Faculty Senate Chairs Keri Kornelson (Norman campus) and Fernando Esteban-Florez (Health Sciences Center) present the mace to President Harroz. The mace, carried by the chairpersons of the Faculty Senate as a symbol of the faculty authority, is made of sterling silver, ebony and ivory. The native semiprecious stones clustered above the seal, mined from throughout Oklahoma, represent the variety of the disciplines of the academic community.

Harroz recieves charge of office framed document

Staff Senate Chairs Angela Miller (OU-Tulsa), Justin Daniels (Norman campus) and Heidi Pettit (Health Sciences Center) present President Harroz with a framed copy of the charge of office. The document serves as a reminder of the responsibilities President Harroz has undertaken and the charge he has accepted.

Harroz speaks from podium
photo of zielinski conducting

Professor Richard Zielinski conducts the OU Choirs in the singing of “Here Comes the Sun,” with Michael Stafford serving as accompanist.

confetti falls on the assembled crowd
confetti falls at the event
Meacham speaks at podium

In his keynote remarks at Thursday evening’s inauguration celebration dinner, presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham noted the essential role of universities in fostering students’ curiosity, candor and empathy.

Photos by Travis Caperton, Ethan Stewart

Article Published:  Wednesday, September 22, 2021