David Boren served Oklahoma as governor and U.S. senator for 20 years and spent nearly three decades in elective politics before becoming the 13th president of the University of Oklahoma in 1994. Chautauqua favorite David McCullough, a renowned historian and author, described his presidency at OU as the most transformative of any he has seen.
As Oklahoma's governor from 1974 through 1978, Boren promoted key educational initiatives that have had an enduring impact on Oklahoma. Established during his tenure were the Oklahoma 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.
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. Boren also chaired the special 1992-93 Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, which produced proposals to make Congress more efficient and responsive by streamlining congressional bureaucracy, reducing staff sizes and reforming procedures to end legislative gridlock. He left the Senate in 1994 with an approval rating of 91 percent.
Under Boren's leadership, the University of Oklahoma has developed and emerged as a ?pacesetter university in American public higher education, with 20 major new programs initiated since his inauguration. They include establishment of the Honors College, the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West, a new expository writing program for freshmen modeled on the program at Harvard, an interdisciplinary religious studies program, the Artist-in-Residence Program, the International Programs Center and the Faculty-in-Residence Program, putting faculty family apartments in student residence halls.
A graduate of Yale University, Boren was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a master's degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University, England. He also holds a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.