NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – Joseph Harroz Jr., who has been serving as the University of Oklahoma’s interim president, has officially been named the university’s 15th president effective immediately.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents unanimously voted Saturday to name Harroz the full-time president of the university.

“Joe Harroz is an exceptional leader,” said Gary Pierson, chair of the OU Board of Regents. “His deep devotion to OU and compelling vision for its future are precisely what the university needs. There’s no one better suited to lead OU.”

Harroz, who was formerly the dean of the OU College of Law, has been the university’s interim president since May 2019.

“This is more than a promotion or a dream job to me,” Harroz said. “It’s a chance to pay back the debt I owe our university. OU changes lives every day. I know firsthand because it changed mine. I wouldn’t be who I am if not for the education my father – the son of Lebanese immigrants – received at OU, and the education that I also received from this extraordinary institution.”

Harroz graduated Phi Beta Kappa from OU in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, according to an OU news release.

He went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University in 1992. He rejoined OU in 1994.

Harroz served as Vice President for Executive Affairs. Then he served as general counsel, the chief legal counsel to the president, the OU Board of Regents, Rogers State University and Cameron University, for 12 years.

“Students feel visible after meeting President Harroz,” said Student Government Association President Justin Norris. “Over the past two semesters, he has immersed himself within multiple perspectives of student life by attending campus events, conversing with students, and most importantly, listening to them. He is an advocate, ally and role model, and he possesses what I believe to be some of the most important leadership attributes: compassion, connectivity and drive – all of which I believe are reflected in his work this past year.”

Harroz became president of a publicly traded health care company in 2008. He returned to OU in 2010 to serve as the dean and director of the OU Law Center and Fenelon Boesche Chair of Law. Harroz has taught law for more than two decades, focusing on employment, sports and health care law, according to the news release.

Harroz earned record national recognition, including the highest-ever U.S. News & World Report ranking by any Oklahoma law school and the first law school in the nation to achieve Apple Distinguished School status (Apple, Inc.), during his nine-year tenure as dean, according to the news release.

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