Dr. Hans Brisch served as the chief executive officer of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education from 1987-2003. He led a State System comprised of 25 state colleges and universities, nine constituent agencies, two higher education centers and independent colleges and universities coordinated with the State System.
Effective Jan. 5, 2003, Brisch was named chancellor emeritus.
Brisch was named chancellor by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in 1987 after a year-long national search. Charged with a change agenda to turn Oklahoma higher education around and improve its competitiveness, he consistently and aggressively implemented an agenda focused on student success, program quality, first-rate faculty, excellence and efficiency. As a result of his hard work, student preparation for college entry went up, college retention went up, college graduation rates increased and eight-year growth in external research funding ranked number one in the nation.
Academic Credentials and Honors
Academic honors for Brisch included various fellowships and scholarships, including the Fulbright-Hays Fellow. Among numerous recognitions of Brisch are the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame (2003), the National Humanity Award from the National Institute on Developmental Delays (1999), the American Society for Public Administration’s Oklahoma Administrator of the Year Award (1999), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Chief Executive Leadership Award (1999), the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award (1997) and the Jewish National Fund’s Tree of Life Award (1995).
Brisch served on numerous state and national education boards and committees. Among those were chairman of the National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (2001-02), president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (1999-2000), chairman of the Investment Committee (1999-2000) and member of the Steering Committee (1996-99) for the Education Commission of the States, and chairman of the board of directors for ACT (2000-01).
Brisch held a doctorate and master’s degree in political science from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in political science and chemistry (minor) from Park College. His professional background included higher education administrative positions at the University of Nebraska, the Illinois Board of Regents and the University of Kansas. He held faculty rank at the University of Kansas, the University of Alabama, the University of Nebraska (tenured) and Nebraska Wesleyan University. He was on leave from the University of Nebraska, serving as chief of staff to Nebraska Gov. Kay Orr, when approached for the Oklahoma chancellor position.
Brisch was born in 1940 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He immigrated to the United States in 1957 and supported himself through work, scholarships and loans to earn a high school diploma and a college degree. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1964. The events shaped his personal philosophy that “America does not guarantee jobs or a higher standard of living, but it does guarantee opportunity” and that higher education helps open those doors of opportunity.
Brisch died Feb. 22, 2006, after a long and courageous battle with brain cancer. He was 66. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Gatton Brisch, and their three children.