AUDIO: Former TU President Steadman Upham Is Remembered

Jul 31, 2017

Steadman Upham
Credit University of Tulsa

The University of Tulsa notified faculty and staff this morning that former University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham has died. The University sent an email to its employees this morning make the announcement: 

With heavy hearts, we have learned that former University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham died last night, July 30, 2017, from complications following a recent surgery.

Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Peggy; their children, Nathan and Erin; and their grandchildren, Orion and Aadrock.

“We are devastated by the news of Stead’s death,” TU President Gerard Clancy said. “Stead was a great friend to the university and all of Tulsa. He and Peggy poured their lives into making TU better in every way. The university community is thankful that we had the chance to be led by them for so long.”

Stead joined TU in 2004 and served as president until 2012, then returned later that year to resume the role at the request of the Board of Trustees. He retired in 2016 and planned to return to TU as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology.

Stead oversaw broad, sustained development of TU’s academic programs and research enterprise. These advances included new doctoral programs in chemistry, physics and anthropology, a growing roster of interdisciplinary research institutes, and increased internationalization of the curriculum.

He also presided over the Embrace the Future Campaign (2004-11), which raised $698 million for campus growth, endowed scholarships, endowed faculty positions and other priorities.

Community engagement and service learning are cornerstones of Stead’s legacy. He led the university in establishing the True Blue Neighbors initiative – a far-reaching service program that partnered TU closely with the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and with service organizations throughout Tulsa. True Blue Neighbors saw year-over-year increases in volunteer participation from the TU family, and it continues as the primary vehicle for TU’s community engagement.

In 2008, Stead led the university in forging the Gilcrease Museum management partnership with the City of Tulsa – an arrangement that has benefitted both institutions. The Helmerich Center for American Research also was established during his tenure, and he represented the center during the acquisition of The Bob Dylan Archive.

In 2014, the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice honored Stead at its annual awards dinner. In 2015, TulsaPeople named him Tulsan of the Year; he also was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame that year.

Earlier in his career, Stead served as president and chief executive officer of Claremont Graduate University. From 1990 to 1998, he worked at the University of Oregon as vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School and professor of anthropology. He had received his Ph.D. degree in anthropology in 1980 from Arizona State University. He continued scholarly work alongside his administrative work.

Stead’s extensive professional service and roles included commissioner of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges; chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools; president, National Physical Science Consortium; director of The American Mutual Funds; director of the Saint Francis Health System; director of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce; director of the American Council on Education; director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association; director of the College Football Playoffs; and director and chair of the Tulsa Community Foundation.

Details about services are pending. We will share them with you as soon as they are available.