Geoffrey We Hardly Knew Ye. With about five minutes remaining in a scheduled 45-minute sit down with a reporter back in August, then-University of Tulsa President Geoffrey Orsak excused himself to use the bathroom.
This information likely has absolutely no relevance to Orsak's abrupt firing announced in time for the Sept. 12 evening news.
But who can say for sure? Neither TU nor Orsak has commented publicly about what led to his firing, allowing speculation to continue unabated.
Did the university do enough research into Orsak's background before his hire? Orsak's career as an academic began at George Mason University in Virginia. While, again, there's no evidence of a connection to his firing, Orsak was sued in 1997 by a female student there who accused another professor of sexual harassment.
The complicated case involved Orsak and a third professor, with each filing sexual harassment complaints against the female student within the university discipline system prior to the matter winding up in court. In her lawsuit, the female student -- who had been expelled -- alleged she had been the victim of retaliation. Orsak became disassociated with the case in 2000, and the case was ultimately dismissed.
Orsak has been said by the university to be attending to an ailing father, who he has said was an electrical engineer. After Orsak's firing, D magazine recalled a first-person story Orsak told the magazine just last year about a summer job he had as an 18-year-old working for his stepfather, a urologist, prepping patients prior to vasectomies.
"I was prepared to do things that others weren't. And that's really what I do today, take on challenges that other people are afraid to touch -- pardon the pun," Orsak told the magazine. Perhaps Orsak's attitude -- lionized in the past -- had something to do with his dismissal.
It remains to be seen if faculty will remain quiet about the sudden firing. Like most universities, TU has a Faculty Senate. The next scheduled meeting is Sept. 20. Will the group formally question the board of trustees about the decision?
It would not be a surprise. Board of Trustees Chair Duane Wilson released a statement on the firing addressed to "TU family and friends" that read in part:
"We recognize the public's significant interest in this development, but in accordance with our personnel policies and status as a private institution, we will not discuss the details behind the board's decision," the statement read in part.
But faculty at other universities have at times stressed the importance of viewing a university differently than a private business, for example, stressing the importance of openness on a college campus.
Firings of presidents have taken place at many other universities, both public and private, for many different reasons, though rarely do they come at such an early point in a president's tenure.
Orsak had been on the job officially only since July 1; often, if a college president only spends two or three years on the job, it's considered a short tenure.
The previous president, Steadman Upham, earned a base compensation of more than $800,000, according to tax reports filed by the university, a nonprofit organization like most colleges. With such a salary, no doubt there will be plenty of applicants when TU begins looking again for a full-time president.
However, the new president and university deans will still have to recruit new faculty. Another question will be if the firing causes any roadblocks to recruiting the top-level academics all universities pursue.
Pro-life Supporters Begin Annual Prayer Vigil. Groups from many area churches will gather beginning September 26 for the annual 40 Days for Life pro-life campaign, a program that, according to Timothy Putnam, director of family life for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, is a peaceful vigil of prayer.
Putnam said this now international event was founded in College Station, Texas, in 2004 "by a group of four people who wanted to be involved with their faith and were very concerned about the issue of life. They were thinking about what they could do that was most effective." The group settled upon prayer.
For 960 hours, from Sept. 26 through Nov. 4, groups will gather for prayer at the Garden of Hope, 6135 E. 32nd Pl., which is across the street from Reproductive Services, a clinic offering family planning services, including medical and surgical abortion.
"The reason that I really like 40 Days for Life," Putnam said, "is it's centered around prayer and fasting, and it's also centered around peaceful vigil. Yes, we're making our presence known here, we're taking a stand for what we believe in, exercising our freedom of religion, but we're doing so in a peaceful way."
Putnam said that each participant must first sign a "statement of peace." "That says we are law-abiding, we're not going to engage in confrontation, we're not going to be aggressive, we're not going to block access, and we're not going to put up disturbing or graphic signs, because I don't think the clinic is the place to do that," Putnam said. "I don't think that's the most effective method anywhere, but specifically not there. And if anyone does any of those things, they disassociate themselves from us."
Putnam said participants are from a wide variety of backgrounds, but mostly from metro Christian churches, especially Victory Christian Center, Heartland Baptist Church, and Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican. "Also people from various non-denominational churches, or with no affiliation, who find out about it" participate Putnam said. "Maybe they don't come out as a church, but they'll get themselves or their family and a couple of other friends and participate. So we really do have a very wide coverage," he said.
40 Days for Life begins with a "kickoff event" Sept. 26 at 6pm at the Garden of Hope. A second mid-point gathering will take place Oct. 13 from 9-11am. "Each of the events will have pastors from various traditions speaking and offering prayer," Putnam said.
"My goal is that when people drive out of the clinic and they look at us they see that we're not scowling," Putnam said. "There's no judgment involved. We are really praying for them. To me success is them seeing concerned prayer."
Tulsa Irish Festival Debuts. The local Bobby Sands M.P. Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) will sponsor its first Irish Festival September 22 at Holy Family Cathedral, 122 E. 8th St., from 10am-4pm.
Festivities will include traditional Irish step dancing, food, dance troupes, a marketplace, tours of the cathedral, and traditional Irish music headlined by the band Celtic Cheer. Fish and chips will be fried up for all, as well as new dishes by chef Mitch Neely and the Grub Truck, fusing traditional Irish classics and American fair foods.
The AOH is a non-profit, Irish-Catholic fraternity with over 450 years of service in Ireland and 175 years of service in the United States. Local president Jeffrey Fisher said this festival is the result of several years of planning. "It's something we've been wanting to do for three-and-a-half years," he said. "We started exploring who would help us with it and had wonderful responses."
Fisher said the purpose of the festival is to celebrate Irish-American Catholic heritage, and to celebrate the differences among people. "What we start today can be built into whatever we want it to be," Fisher said, further explaining, "The reality is we celebrate that I'm different from you."
Parking will be available across from Holy Family Cathedral on 8th street, and there will be a $1.00 admission fee to help offset expenses.
Tulsa Rowing Club Juniors to Compete in Boston and the U.K. Tulsa Rowing Club Juniors (TRCJ) will compete for the ninth year at the world's largest 2-day rowing event, Head of the Charles (HOCR), which takes place on the Charles River in Boston. Over 300,000 spectators will gather to watch more than 9,000 athletes from around the world compete in this event October 20-21.
The 2012 HOCR line-up includes the following Tulsa athletes from five different high schools:
Ronnie Baker (Bixby)
Mason Fuller (Cascia Hall)
Katie Grantham-Coxswain (Booker T. Washington)
David Maxwell (Edison)
Alex Mears (Cascia Hall)
Riley Price (Cascia Hall)
Evan Sack (Booker T. Washington)
Jonah Seely (Booker T. Washington)
Anthony Vitali (Cascia Hall)
John Carstens - Alternate (Holland Hall)
In July, 2013, Tulsa Rowing Club Juniors will also be the first high school crew from Oklahoma to participate at the Henley Royal Regatta in the United Kingdom.
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