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OU Daily: OU holds inaugural celebration dinner in honor of President Joseph Harroz

September 17, 2021
News Stories

OU Daily - Alexia Aston

OU community members celebrated the inauguration of OU President Joseph Harroz during a dinner Thursday evening in the Lloyd Noble Center. 

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) of Oklahoma’s fourth congressional district opened the reception and said OU is “remarkable” under Harroz’s leadership. 

“You inspire us all to pursue excellence,” Cole said. “We're looking forward to honoring you this evening and your family.” 

Harroz took the stage and introduced his colleagues, friends and family. He said he was grateful to everyone who attended the dinner. 

“When I look out at every one of you, I think each of you has been touched by the University of Oklahoma in a way that is profound,” Harroz said. “You’ve given back in ways that are absolutely profound.”

Newly-appointed OU Dean of the College of Dentistry Paul Mullasseril said he’s looking forward to working with Harroz. 

“I’m excited to see my vision and his vision merge in terms of what I want for the dental school and what he wants for the dental school,” Mullasseril said. 

Similarly, Senior Vice President and Provost André-Denis Wright said Harroz is an excellent mentor, and he is excited to continue working with him.

“I have been here for 11 weeks, and we have a very strong bond,” Wright said. “I’m excited to work with him, and I’m excited for his strategic plan.” 

Keynote speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham spoke and described the event as a “sacred moment.”

“We are here in a moment in the shadow of an attack on our democracy,” Meacham said. “It is an unfolding attack in many ways. It is an hour in the life of a nation where the best parts of us are required from all of us.” 

Meacham said the promise of being created equal is “under assault.” He said the university is essential in the arsenal of a democratic future, a capitalistic future and a future of possibility in a world of peril.

“America is about the capacity of reason to render a political and cultural ethos where we all have a shot,” Meacham said. “We see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. That's the essence of democracy.”

Describing it as a “shining city on a hill,” Meacham said the university is about “illumination, creating and understanding.”

“Without the primacy of reason, (and) without the illimitable freedom of the human mind, democracy collapses,” Meacham said.

After receiving a degree from OU, Harroz said students will become “informed citizens” within their communities. 

“(They’ll be) people who are looked to by their peers and by those around them to find out what their views are,” Harroz said. “We have to understand that they leave as a citizen leader.”

Harroz said democracies fail when others refuse to see things through different lenses and perspectives. 

“It’s so fundamental for our students to be successful in their own lives, and to propagate this democracy is to not reject the view of the other out of hand, but to understand … the human emotion that underlies,” Harroz said. “If you don’t have that, this thing cannot continue.” 

Online: OU Daily