Pierson named chair of OU Regents; Stone resigns

The Norman Transcript - October 25, 2019 10:00 am

The Norman Transcript

Renzi Stone resigned from the OU Board of Regents Tuesday, hours after the board named him vice chair and appointed a new chair.

During a Tuesday lunch, the board named Gary Pierson, its newest member, chair of the board starting in March. Stone and Pierson’s appointments were part of a string of Tuesday meetings during which the regents heard campus updates and did not take any other actions.

Early Tuesday evening, Stone announced via Twitter that he will resign from the board, effective immediately.

Stone, who was appointed to the board in 2015, noted in his announcement that his resignation will allow him to focus on other opportunities. The regent is also CEO and chairman of Oklahoma City-based marketing communications firm Saxum.

“Since my appointment in 2015, I’ve spent between 10-30 hours a week on OU business,” Stone said in his Twitter statement. “With a few new opportunities on my plate, and the university trending in the right direction, I decided it was a good time to make a change for me and my family.”

Pierson will take over the chair position as current chair Leslie Rainbolt’s term expires. He was appointed to the board in April after the February death of regent Bill Burgess, who was next in line for the chair position. In his position as Burgess’ successor, Pierson will take over as chair.

While Stone’s departure from the board was unexpected, current board chair Leslie Rainbolt said she’s confident in the board’s strength moving forward.

“I was very surprised and very sorry, although certainly wishing Renzi the best in everything and excited for the opportunities he faces,” Rainbolt said. “I think we have a strong board — I think Gary Pierson will be an excellent chair. There’s a lot of opinions and there’s a lot of minds going into it — I think it’s a great board.”

While he’s new to the Board of Regents, Pierson said he’s been involved with the university for long enough to feel comfortable taking over the chair position.

“I’ve been involved in the management of the university for almost 20 years, so although the position of the regent may be new, it’s not new material for me — I have a lot of experience on boards,” Pierson told the Norman Transcript. “I’m looking forward to it — I think great times are ahead for OU.”

Pierson has served in multiple leadership positions outside the board, including president and CEO of Oklahoma Publishing Company, chair of the OU College of Law Board of Visitors and member of the OU Price College of Business Board of Advisors.

Rainbolt said in a statement that Pierson’s appointment to the position will bring continuity to the March leadership transition.

“(Regent Burgess) was a delightful presence on our board with a good heart and abundant enthusiasm for higher education,” Rainbolt said in the statement. “It seems fitting we maintain the sequence in honor of Regent Burgess by appointing his replacement, Regent Pierson, to serve as the next Chair. Since joining our Board, Regent Pierson’s expertise in business and law, as well as his experience leading large complex enterprises, has been invaluable in helping us bring resolution to some significant matters in the past several months.”

Pierson said in an OU statement that he “appreciate(s) the confidence my fellow Regents exhibited in selecting me as the next Chair of the OU Board of Regents,” and that he is excited for OU’s future.

“After I become Chair next March, I will continue to work collaboratively with my fellow Regents and our diverse university communities at OU, Cameron, and Rogers State to make sure they have the resources and support as well as decisive leadership to help them move forward with their missions and visions,” Pierson said in the statement.


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