Alumnus pushes for de-naming of Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital

Boren Vet Clinic

Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital on Nov. 7, 2019 at Oklahoma State University

David Boren has all but disappeared from the University of Oklahoma.

While his presence hasn’t been as prominent at Oklahoma State, one alumnus of nearly 40 years is pushing for Boren’s influence to be wiped clean from this campus, too.

Charles R. Freeman, who was named the 2019 Oklahoma Veterinarian of the Year, proposed the idea of de-naming the Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital, writing in a letter to the Veterinary Medicine alumni society members that the building’s name is “an embarrassment to our university.” 

“For years and years many of the alumni, myself included, have wondered why did (Boren’s) name ever end up on that building,” Freeman said.

Freeman also wrote several reasons for the de-naming of the building, including “the removal of David Boren’s status as emeritus President of the University of Oklahoma and the other actions by (OU) to disassociate themselves from their previous president and the relinquishment of his affiliations with the university.” 

Freeman said there are other instructors and professors at the university who are more deserving of having a building named after them.

“(Boren) doesn’t honor any of the people that have had to do with veterinary education in Oklahoma,” Freeman said.

The building was named after Boren in the '70s while he was the Governor of Oklahoma. Boren helped set aside funds for the building in the state’s legislature. 

OU’s disassociation from Boren came after a sexual harassment investigation by the university, which began in February and ended in April, after allegations of misconduct arose. 

The investigation sought to determine whether Boren sexually harassed male aides during his 23-year tenure as president at OU. The Board of Regents at OU announced in April they had received the results of the investigation, although those results have not been made public.

After Boren resigned as President at OU, his successor, Jim Gallogly, said months after taking office he found OU was nearly $1 billion in debt.

Jerry Malayer, associate dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, said this call for a name change is “not new.”

“There have been people who have complained about the name of that since the building was built because of the connection of Mr. Boren and his family to the University of Oklahoma,” Malayer said. “Recent events have changed some things, perhaps, but my personal view is we need to let that play out.”

However, according to Faculty Council Chairman Udaya DeSilva, not a single faculty member or student has complained to the faculty council about the name of the building, which is when the board will start to consider enacting the de-naming process.

“It has to come from a majority of the faculty that want it done, and then we’ll start working on it, if that’s the case,” DeSilva said. “But absolutely we have not had a single request from faculty, so we are not. It’s not even on the agenda at any point that we are considering that.”

College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Carlos Risco and Provost Gary Sandefur both said they were unaware of any push to de-name the hospital. 

If a move to de-name the building does gain traction at some point, Malayer said any resulting process would require careful consideration.

“We need to be thoughtful and fair and reasoned about it, as opposed to jumping to conclusions and making judgements based on politics or whatever the point of view is,” Malayer said.