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June 29, 2006 :: Higher Education Chancellor Announces Resignation

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Chancellor Paul G. Risser announced Thursday that he will be resigning from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, effective July 28.

Phil Moss, vice chancellor for academic affairs, has been named interim chancellor. The State Regents announced that they will have a special meeting July 12 to deliberate on replacing the chancellor.

“My time as chancellor has been very gratifying, and we have accomplished a great deal,” said Risser. “But I have missed the excitement and variety that only a college campus environment can provide. I am eager to move forward and continue to serve our state in an exciting new role that will utilize a broad range of my experiences.”

Under Risser, Oklahoma higher education has experienced a period of record student enrollment, improved graduation rates and unprecedented success with the Oklahoma Legislature, including a $475 million capital bond project and higher education’s first $1 billion state appropriation. Risser helped lead the innovative cooperative alliance project between higher ed and career tech, which helps high school students get a head start on their college degrees. He also advanced two significant new initiatives that will begin in January 2007: a Web-based student portal and an adult degree completion program.

“Oklahoma has been fortunate to have a native son return to the state and be such a dynamic leader,” said Regent John Massey. “His emphasis on improving student funding, research and economic development are just a few examples of the lasting impact that he has made on the state. We appreciate his service the last three and one-half years and all of the good work he has accomplished.”

Risser, 67, became chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education in January 2003 after serving terms as president of Oregon State University and Miami University in Ohio. That was preceded by several administrative and academic positions in a career that began in 1967 at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. He has worked with more than 20 national scientific organizations and now chairs the Science Committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., and the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, N.Y.

As chancellor, Risser helped lead Gov. Brad Henry’s EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) project that has resulted in more than 100 specific actions since 2004.

“Paul Risser has been a true visionary and a tireless champion of higher education,” said Henry. “Our colleges and universities have continued to grow and strengthen under his leadership. Paul has been particularly instrumental in helping advance the EDGE initiative and all the promise it means for Oklahoma’s future, as he understands the pivotal role our colleges and universities play in building a vibrant economy. He has worked hard to make Oklahoma’s system of higher education bigger and better than ever, and I am grateful for his efforts.”

Risser will begin work at the University of Oklahoma on July 31, serving as chair of the university-wide Research Cabinet, which will coordinate research planning on all three of OU’s campuses.

OU President David L. Boren said, “Paul Risser has made a lasting contribution to higher education in our state. He has helped the people of Oklahoma better understand that excellence in higher education is absolutely essential if we are to improve the economic opportunities and quality of life in our state. He has also helped diversify our state’s economy by increasing investment in our universities’ research base.”

Moss has served in the capacity as vice chancellor for three years and is responsible for academic programs, planning, and policy within the State System. He formerly served as dean of information services and distance education at Western Oklahoma State College before joining the State Regents' staff in 1996. Moss holds a Ph.D. in adult and higher education with an emphasis in distance education and a M.Ed. in educational technology from OU. An Edmond native, Moss and his wife, Peggy, have 3 children and currently reside in Norman.

Higher Education Reacts to Risser’s Resignation

“Chancellor Risser has done an outstanding job serving our state and enhancing higher education for all Oklahomans. He has led with distinction and left a substantial imprint on our state, particularly through his visionary efforts in developing the ambitious EDGE economic advancement plan. We will miss his leadership and wish him the best.”
— Oklahoma State University President David Schmidly

“Paul Risser was a strong voice for improving each individual institution and the system as a whole. His nursing education initiative and adult degree completion program will have a long-lasting, positive impact on the state.”
— Northeastern State University President Larry Williams

“In just a few years, Dr. Risser has provided a vision for higher education in our state that is already becoming a reality in many ways. Of particular importance is the way he has clarified and strengthened the relationship between higher education and economic development. Chancellor Risser has been innovative, honest and direct and an effective advocate for higher education. The state system of higher education will certainly benefit as many of his initiatives come to fruition.”
— Seminole State College President James Utterback

Photo of Paul G. Risser (GIF, 449k)