21st Century Leader
President Steadman Upham has been at the helm during incredible growth at The University of Tulsa.
Over the past decade, The University of Tulsa has seen tremendous growth. The school continues to see record development and will soon enter the American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East. This growth is in no small part due to contributions made by Dr. Steadman Upham, the university’s president since 2004.
We worked with faculty and academic deans about 10 years ago in identifying goals we would like to achieve. Not “pie-in-the-sky” things, but tangible accomplishments we can measure, like the quality of admitted students to the university and creating a residential environment for students. TU was essentially a commuter campus, so we started building housing, and now we’re more residential than most universities in the country. The transformation over the last decade has involved literally thousands of people who have a part. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve been involved in over my professional life.
We really did not seek conference realignment; we were happy in Conference USA, but it dissolved around us. We made a decision that we needed to change, as well. Leaving Conference USA and joining the American Athletic Conference gives us more exposure on the East Coast. We’ll be competing against new schools we’ve never played before. Those are big media markets, so I think it will be very beneficial in getting the word out about TU Athletics.
We have a lot of initiatives and programs underway, including a partnership with the City of Tulsa for Gilcrease Museum. We’re building a research center next to Gilcrease that will focus on archival research as part of support for the Gilcrease collections, but it will also be a venue for Americanist scholars to study aspects of the country’s founding, Indian removal and things that are fundamental to Oklahoma as well.
We are looking at very strong student enrollment growth. We’re going to have another record enrollment in the fall. That’s putting a lot of pressure on housing, so we’re breaking ground on new student housing. The quality of students continues to be outstanding. We feel like we’re very well positioned to continue to grow into the future."