Our Partners Reflect

David Boren, President, Oklahoma University

"That phone call transformed higher education in Tulsa."

“I was in my office one day when I received a totally unsolicited call from Charles Schusterman. At the time, the University of Oklahoma desperately needed a campus where we could house all of our programs—the medical school, clinics and various graduate schools. We had been operating in storefronts, scattered across seven different locations throughout Tulsa, and we were unable to bring the faculty and students together in one place.

“As a result, the education experience was really lacking; so many aspects of university life are, after all, about community. Our needs were tremendous, and I was consumed with how to address them because state funding for a new campus was not feasible.

“These were the issues that preoccupied me when my phone rang that afternoon in 1999. I answered the phone, and Charles was on the line with a question. He heard that Amoco Petroleum was moving out of Tulsa and its building was for sale. He thought it would be perfect for the university's needs, and so he asked if I was interested in receiving a gift to purchase it. The building, located on 40 acres in an incredible location in the city, was ideal for our needs. Of course, I told him that we were very interested!

“That call and the gift that followed transformed higher education in Tulsa. It allowed us to provide better medical services, as well as create a more cohesive educational experience for our students. And throughout the years, the Foundation has continued to support the University in tremendous ways, helping us to maintain the campus and investing in new programs. They even established the Judaic and Israel studies program here, which has fostered interfaith dialogue on campus, as well as provided our students with a better understanding of the modern Middle East.

“The call from that afternoon continues to stay with me because it speaks to what kind of person Charles truly was. He stepped up with a vision, a total commitment to the community and the initiative to make change happen. Communities can't flourish without stewards like Charles. The Foundation, under Lynn, retains Charles's spirit in their commitment to proactive giving. They don't wait for people to come to them, but rather research what the state needs and what Tulsa needs, which is so unusual.”

Read more about our work in Education