Ten People We Watched in 2015

Newspapers annually highlights individuals predicted to be newsmakers. Here, we review the “10 People We Watched in 2015.”

Since Anna America was voted into office as District 7 City Councilor in November 2014, she has had the focus of improving business growth and public safety in her district.

During 2015, much of her time has also been spent focused on helping to create a renewal package for the expiring Vision 2025 tax that will be brought to Tulsa residents next year.

The City Council’s goal is, by the end of the year, to have a package created that will have a combined focus on future city projects, public safety and Arkansas River improvements.

Getting that done will be a significant accomplishment for the council, says America.

America hopes to see two of her proposals included in the Vision renewal package that would have a direct impact on her district as well as the city: a citywide assessment of aging retail areas throughout the city in order to generate additional future sales tax; and, two, the widening of Mingo Road between 71st and 91st streets: “the council agrees this needs to be done,” she says. “The widening will be important for economic development and traffic control.”

This has been a busy year for Alan Armstrong, president and of Williams. A highlight during his Chamber leadership year has been the opening of the Macy’s Distribution Center in Owasso, which was procured with a strong synergistic regional effort.

In addition to his chairmanship of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Armstrong has been in the spotlight in his leadership role at Williams. Earlier this year Williams completed the acquisition of Access Midstream, headquartered in Oklahoma City,
This fall Williams was targeted by Energy Transfer Equity () of Dallas for a merger in a deal valued at $37.7 million, according to the Oil and Gas Journal, which quotes Armstrong: “As a combined company, we will have enhanced prospects for growth, be better able to connect our customers to more diverse markets, and have more stability in an environment of low commodity prices. Importantly, Williams Partners will retain its current name and remain a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.”

In December 2014, Ken Busby announced that he would leave his role as executive director with the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa. In May, he was announced as the executive director of the Route 66 Alliance.

Busby will oversee the creation of the Route 66 Alliance Interpretive Center, a 44,000-square-foot facility that will highlight the Mother Road, her stories and how Tulsa has played such a large role in her history.

“When I saw the preliminary designs for the building, I thought, ‘Yes, I need to be involved,’” he says. “This center will be great for the state, great for Tulsa, tourism and economic development. We can use this center to get people off the Interstate and then showcase the rest of Tulsa.”

The fundraising campaign for the center, which began in June, is currently on track, says Busby. Several companies and individuals have made pledges. The fundraising goal is $19.5 million.

Busby expects a September 2016 groundbreaking, followed by two years of construction, with a planned opening in September 2018.

Tulsa Zoo President and Terrie Correll continues to work with zoo officials and the community to bring additional progress and visitors to the Tulsa Zoo.

For fiscal year 2014-15, the zoo reported its second-highest attendance year on record.

In 2014, the Mary K. Chapman Rhino Reserve was the first exhibit from the zoo’s 20-year master plan to open.

Following that was the groundbreaking for the Lost Kingdom Exhibit Complex, which is planned to open in 2017. “Lost Kingdom is another example of our master plan progress and is a game-changer for the zoo, in terms of animal habitat quality and guest experience,” says Correll.

Lost Kingdom will feature Komodo dragons and Asian big cats, including tigers and snow leopards.

Other projects in the zoo’s phase I plans include the Carnivores! exhibit, featuring a new habitat for African lions; renovations of the giraffe exhibit; and a revamped and expanded chimpanzee exhibit.

Dr. Gerard Clancy entered 2015 as the vice president and dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Tulsa. Previously, Clancy served as president of OU-Tulsa beginning in 2006. In 2011, while at OU-Tulsa, Clancy announced plans to collaborate with TU in the creation of a four-year community medicine educational program in Tulsa.

Clancy has continued to work hard for the collaborative program with OU-Tulsa, and the recent opening of the $6.4 million Tandy Education Center at the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center, 4502 E. 41st Street, has solidified that goal.

This fall, the inaugural class of first-year students from the OU-TU School of Community Medicine began their studies at OU-Tulsa, where they will complete all four years of their medical education. OU College of Medicine faculty in Oklahoma City and Tulsa as well as TU faculty are teaching the students and utilizing the Tandy Education Center.

Watch for Dr. Gerard Clancy to continue his leadership throughout the community in the future.

Frank Haith finished his first season as the head coach of the University of Tulsa men’s basketball team last March with a winning record. The Golden Hurricane, members of the American Athletic Conference, finished the season 23-11, 14-4 in American Athletic play to finish in second place. They advanced to the semifinals of the American Athletic Tournament where they lost to Connecticut. They were invited to the National Invitation Tournament where they defeated William & Mary in the first round before losing in the second round to Murray State.

Haith inherited an experienced team last year, and in this 2015-2016 season they are one of the most experienced teams in the nation. That experience has paid off early in the season, as Tulsa upset Wichita State, ranked ninth in the nation. It was the highest ranked team Tulsa has ever defeated in the Reynolds Center.

Haith came to TU from the University of Missouri, where he was also the head coach.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Dr. John Schumann became interim president of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. On Sept. 16, Schumann was officially appointed as president of OU-Tulsa by the OU Board of Regents.

Since becoming president, Schumann has seen the recent opening of the state-of-the-art Tandy Education Center, a $6.4-million simulation and education center and the inaugural class of first-year medical students. Students can now complete all four years of their medical education at OU-Tulsa.

Recently, Schumann presided over his first OU-Tulsa convocation as president, with more than 400 graduates from 18 programs, and he traveled to Israel in May with OU social work students and officially established Haruv at OU-Tulsa, a collaboration with the Haruv Institute at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. 

He continues to author a weekly blog and has written for several national media including Slate, the Atlantic, and NPR’s blog, Shots. Schumann also hosts Medical Matters on 89.5 FM.

As of this writing, Philip Montgomery’s first season as the head football coach of the University of Tulsa has been successful in that the team has a possibility of playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2012. Tulsa has won games over Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, Louisiana-Monroe, and Central Florida, while losing to Oklahoma, Houston, East Carolina, Memphis and Cincinnati, all very good teams.

A highlight this season was when Tulsa scored two touchdowns in 12 seconds right before halftime at Oklahoma. This may be a prelude to what is in store in the future, as Montomery has time to recruit his own players into what many know as the “Baylor offense,” his last coaching assignment before coming to Tulsa.

While at Baylor, Montgomery was honored many times, including as Offensive Coordinator of the Year by FootballScoop.com and was named a finalist for the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant.

Since becoming president and of Tulsa Community College in July 2014, Leigh B. Goodson has led the application into the national education initiative Pathways Project. was one of the 30 community colleges across the country selected. The Pathways Project focuses on raising college graduation rates by building better bridges for students from high school graduation to college completion.

Goodson also led the way in the college’s development of its 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, which was developed and approved after a collaborative process involving faculty and staff.

Goodson has also created positions of Vice President for Workforce Development and Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness through internal reallocation to address critical, underdeveloped college functions, implemented a baseline budgeting model, and has initiated “Open Lines,” which are campus forums to share updates on critical issues and address any questions or concerns expressed by faculty and staff.

Evan Tipton was the 2015 chairman of ros. Tipton is producing manager for the Scott McCoy Insurance Agency, and in November, he was inducted into Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business Hall of Fame.

In May, ros held another successful StreetCred event, this one at 61st Street and Peoria Avenue, which focused on beautification, safety, and community involvement with family-friendly activities, games and entertainment.

While people often perceive ros to be focused mainly on midtown and downtown Tulsa, this event helped to show that the organization is inclusive, which was one of Tipton’s goals as 2015 chair.

ros Foundation was announced in October 2014, with the goal of connecting young professionals with the organizations, funding and support for their ideas.
In August, the foundation awarded a total of $28,000 to seven local projects or organizations.

Tulsa’s Great Raft Race received the largest grant of $10,000.

Updated 11-23-2015

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