The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Geoffrey Orsak as the university’s 18th president. Orsak, 48, is currently dean of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He will assume his duties at TU on July 1, succeeding President Steadman Upham, who announced his retirement last year and will be stepping down on June 30.
“Geoffrey Orsak shares our vision for the next stage in the advancement of The University of Tulsa,” said Duane Wilson (BS ’62), chairman-elect of the TU Board of Trustees and chairman of the presidential search committee. “His strategic insight and proven leadership will be tremendous assets, helping to drive TU to new levels of national distinction.”
Orsak has been called one of this nation’s key leaders in engineering research and education, with a keen grasp of their impact on economic development and global competitiveness. In his role as dean, Orsak has led the Lyle School of Engineering to national prominence built on achievement at all levels, including growth in faculty and physical facilities, some of the nation’s highest levels of research funding per faculty member, and the development of innovative engineering education outreach for children in grades K-12.
A visionary administrator and concise communicator, Orsak supports higher education’s role in applying scholarship to social needs both locally and globally – goals that mesh perfectly with TU initiatives such as True Blue Neighbors and Make A Difference Engineering ( at TU).
Orsak says he was drawn to TU for many reasons, including the uncompromising quality of its academic enterprise and commitment to the community in which it resides. “TU has an exceptional national reputation that far exceeds its size,” he said. “And the civic engagement demonstrated by TU students, faculty, staff and alumni is inspiring and unmatched anywhere.” Orsak also expressed eagerness to build upon the success of the university’s recent $698 million Embrace the Future Campaign. “The visionary leadership of Steadman Upham and the dedication of the Board of Trustees have well positioned the university for continued endowment growth, expansion of the student body, and community partnerships that will strengthen TU and Tulsa,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to be the next in a line of distinguished leaders who have so ably guided this institution for more than a century.”
Orsak received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University. His wife, Dr. Catherine Orsak, serves as Chief of Mental Health for the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System and Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. They have two children, Mary Elizabeth, 12, and Peter, 8.
“Geoffrey Orsak has been a creative and energetic leader at every stage of his professional life. He is an accomplished engineer and respected academic executive,” said Steadman Upham. “Peggy and I warmly welcome Geoffrey, Catherine, and their children to the City of Tulsa and The University of Tulsa family. We look forward to their leadership.”
TU’s search for a new president began shortly after Upham announced last April that he would retire from the position. Upham’s distinguished eight-year tenure saw unprecedented growth and fundraising success. He will remain with the university in a teaching and research position.
“I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Trustee Duane Wilson and members of the Presidential Search Committee for their diligence and professionalism throughout this process,” Upham said.
As a comprehensive, doctoral-degree-granting institution, The University of Tulsa provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, education, engineering, law, nursing, and applied health sciences. Current enrollment is 4,092 (3,004 undergraduate and 1,088 graduate and law students).
During the past decade, TU has achieved a remarkable transformation through strategic enhancements to its curriculum, student experience, research enterprise, community partnerships, and physical campus. The university is currently ranked #75 among doctoral/ research universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. For the first time in the school’s history, TU’s College of Law is ranked in the Top 100 law schools by U.S. News. For two years in a row, TU’s Collins College of Business is ranked among the nation’s Top 50 business schools by Bloomberg Businessweek.