President Jim Gallogly says OU finances 'turning a corner'
NORMAN — Eight months into his tenure, University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly thinks the university’s finances are turning a corner.
Once predicted to lose nearly $15 million this year, Gallogly announced at OU’s board of regents quarterly meeting on Wednesday that both the Norman campus and the Health Sciences Center campus are now cash positive.
The Norman campus has increased its cash position from $152 million to more than $177 million, a near $26 million increase while the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City is reporting a $36 million increase in its cash position.
“Those negative numbers are now positive,” Gallogly said. “We are stewards of taxpayers and they expect us to use the money through their taxes wisely and we are showing we will do that.”
The increase in cash for the university comes after months of cutting expenses and reducing staff to address years of what Gallogly said was overspending under former President David Boren.
In February, Ken Rowe, OU’s chief financial officer, told the board of regents that he found the university’s financial condition to be “very concerning” and that further cuts would most likely be necessary.
Sitting inside the OU Armory on Wednesday, Gallogly said the cash flow was slow to improve because severance packages had to be paid first to cut staff. He said the promise of financial stabilization is what allowed tuition rates to remain flat and gave him the confidence to approve faculty raises.
“We knew it would take a little while to show up,” he said. “In the last couple of months it’s beginning to show up in a very positive way.”
OU also announced an increase in fundraising as the university saw $55.6 million in new and conditional pledges. When combined with cash gifts totaling $68.5 million, Gallogly said he believes the university is on track to match last year’s donation amount.
Gifts collected from July 1 through Feb. 21 were down 31 percent from the same period a year ago, but pledges for donations are reported to be up.
Regent Natalie Shirley, of Oklahoma City, thinks the financial turnaround was what the board expected when Gallogly became president.
“Jim Gallogly is a get-it-done-kind-of president,” she said. “He said he would turn it around from a financial standpoint and he absolutely has.”
Gallogly said he’s been eager for some positive financial signs after taking over as president in July.
“We wouldn’t be doing these things if we had a choice,” he said. “But I think it’s so important to make an OU education affordable to our students and that’s a prize in and of itself.”
During Wednesday's meeting, Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes was also elected chair of the board of regents, succeeding Clay Bennett, who resigned from the board in late January.