University of Tulsa releases statement on ex-President Orsak's firing

TULSA - The University of Tulsa released a statement detailing the firing of President Geoffrey Orsak Thursday but declined to shed light on the reasons for his termination only 74 days into the job.

The letter, authored by TU Board of Trustees chairman Duane Wilson, cites "discretion and university policy" as to its withholdings.

Below is the statement in full.

Dear TU Family and Friends,

The news of the university's decision to release Dr. Geoffrey Orsak from his duties as president has occasioned intense interest and many questions from members of the TU family and the general public.  On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to tell you as much as I am permitted and to assure you that The University of Tulsa has the governance and administration in place to ensure a smooth course forward.

As already announced, the board has authorized Executive Vice President Kevan Buck to handle the day-to-day administrative affairs of the university. Kevan has a wealth of experience overseeing the university's business functions and core operating units. We are moving forward with business as usual and foresee no problems with our interim arrangement.

The board is discussing next steps as we work toward identifying TU's 19th president. We will keep you informed as this process moves forward.

Discretion and university policy dictate that I not discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the decision, except to underscore my confidence in the collective wisdom of The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees. Our board comprises some of the most experienced leaders of our community, who have successfully managed through a wide range of challenges. I appreciate and applaud the serious and thoughtful insight that each trustee brought to these deliberations, and I am confident that the board reached the conclusion that best serves our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and many partners.

Although unavoidable, the timing of this decision was particularly unfortunate, given the additional challenges that the Orsak family faces with the care of Dr. Orsak's ailing father. We wish all of them well during this difficult time and in their future endeavors.

We recognize the public's significant interest in this development, but in accordance with our personnel policies and status as a private institution, we will not discuss the details behind the board's decision.  

Finally, on behalf of the board, I thank each of you for the part you play in the success of The University of Tulsa. Our shared dedication to the power of learning and the duty of service will continue to keep us moving forward.


Duane Wilson

Chairman, Board of Trustees

The university announced Orsak's firing Wednesday evening. Executive Vice President Kevan Buck has been assigned to fulfill "day-to-day operations" but no interim president has been named.

"I just fell in love with the university, the people of the university and ultimately the city of Tulsa," Orsak told 2News anchor Russ McCaskey in July of his TU recruitment process. "In the end, it was just a marriage made in heaven for me."

On campus, students are still in the dark about the ex-president.

"Really nothing is certain on why he was fired," said TU student Michael Dupont.

"I just came from biology lab and that's one of the things that half of us were talking about, just all the different rumors," fellow student Blake Alwardt said.

Orsak was granted a leave of absence on Tuesday to take care of his sick father.

Orsak came from Southern Methodist University as the dean of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. He succeeded former TU President Steadman Upham , who retired in June.


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