At the end of last summer, TU celebrated the completion of a multi-year project. The project consisted of multiple renovations, the relocation of the TU bookstore, construction of a fountain and the newly built Hardesty Hall.
President Upham commented on the project. It “has been incredibly exciting and a lot of good things have happened. The Hardesty family and all of the other donors were incredible in their support.”
Astonishingly, Upham reported that the project, for which 39 million dollars were allocated, finished under budget and ahead of schedule.
“The completion of Hardesty Hall was much needed,” Upham said. “It was a race because we needed the building to be ready for this fall.”
Previously around a hundred students had to be housed downtown because of resident space shortage.
Upham said that now, “We have enough resident units so that we can accommodate all of our students on campus, which was really important to us.”
Not only does TU now have enough resident space, but as a result of the project there is more office space for various departments that previously had trouble finding places in which to fit.
Regarding the renovation of buildings like ACAC and Keplinger, Upham said, “There are always surprises when dealing with renovations,” but that, “Those old buildings…are still very serviceable and it is important that we take care of them.”
With all that has happened, The Collegian looked forward to what students should be expecting in the next few years.
While additional buildings on TU’s main campus are unlikely, there will be a new campus located at 12th and Boulder. TU purchased five floors of a building on Boulder to house the recently launched College of Health and Sciences, which Upham said, “is still very much a work in progress.”
But in progress it is. There will be degree programs moved from other colleges into the new college, as well as the creation of entirely new degree programs, mainly master’s degrees, but also a PhD program called the Doctor of Nurse Practice. The main focus of that PhD program will be on anesthesiology and critical care.
Additionally, TU is expanding another part of the Health and Science department called the Health Care Delivery Science.
Upham said, “It’s sort of a combination of a Master of Public Health and Hospital Administration, coupled with an understanding of insurance framework and both the legal and other structures of government hospitals…We’re really trying to prepare our students with master’s degrees who can step out (of TU) and take leadership positions in health care fields.”
There will also be several new homes built near campus. Previously, TU entered into an agreement with developer David Charney and the George Kaiser Family Foundation to develop affordable housing in the Whittier area. TU purchased land for housing and helped pay down payments for faculty who wanted to live close to campus. Eleven homes were built, of which nine were bought by university faculty. TU is hoping to continue that project again in the future, with plans to built seven to nine new houses near the others.
In regard to the new homes, as well as the many other services and programs TU offers the surrounding community, Upham said, “We’re trying to be a university of Tulsa, as opposed to just being located in Tulsa. We really want to be seen as a part of the community.”
Recently, TU was voted into the Top 50 Private Universities in the US, so The Collegian asked Upham if he and the board had any plans to further TU’s national standing.
“There are a whole range of factors that go into making a top national university, and we want to pay attention to those,” Upham said, “but while we are always trying to grow and get better, we are also trying to avoid raising costs for the people we serve. College is very expensive already, so we want to avoid that.”
For those who are not aware, Steadman Upham is currently serving his second term as TU’s president. “I tried to retire a while ago, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Upham returned to his post in 2012.
“It has been a joy to be back.” Upham said, “The thing that makes it so nice is the way people work together on this campus. We’re unique in higher education. A lot of other places are hard to work at because people have turf wars and fight. TU is definitely the opposite of that.”
However, as much as Upham has enjoyed being at TU again, he said “it’s not forever. I’m not as young as I used to be!”
President Upham said he will most likely serve one or two more years as TU’s president, and then attempt to retire again.