Founder and Chairman David L. Boren
A visionary leader and champion for public education, David L. Boren founded the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence in 1985. Boren has served Oklahoma as governor, U.S. senator, and president of the University of Oklahoma. He is the first person in state history to have served in all three positions.
As the nation’s youngest governor from 1974 to 1978, Boren promoted key educational initiatives that have had an enduring impact on Oklahoma. Established during his tenure were: the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute; the Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program; and the Oklahoma Physicians Manpower Training Program, which provides scholarships for medical students and medical personnel who commit to practice in underserved rural areas. Also, the first state funding for Gifted and Talented classes was provided in 1976 and, from 1976 through 1978, Oklahoma ranked first among all states in the percentage increases of funding for higher education.
During his time in the U.S. Senate -- from 1979 to 1994 -- Boren served on the Senate Finance and Agriculture Committees and was the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He also chaired the special 1992-93 Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, which produced proposals to make Congress more efficient and responsive. Boren left the U.S. Senate in 1994 with an approval rating of 91 percent to serve as president of the University of Oklahoma.
Under his presidential leadership, OU developed and emerged as a "pacesetter university in American public higher education.” From 1994-2018, almost $2 billion in construction projects were completed or are under way on OU’s three campuses; endowed professorships more than quadrupled; more than 30 major new programs were initiated; and the OU donor base grew from 18,000 to more than 107,000 friends and alumni. Despite his busy schedule as an administrator, Boren was one of the few university presidents in the nation who taught a course every semester. He continues to teach a freshman-level political science course in retirement, and it remains among the most popular on OU’s Norman campus.