James Halligan, a former Republican state senator from Oklahoma and university president, has died. He was 86.
Halligan passed at a hospital in Oklahoma City, Stillwater News Press reported.
Former Oklahoma state senator dies
A friend of Halligan’s, Carolyn West Meyer, said he left an indelible mark on Stillwater and the state of Oklahoma.
“He did so many great things for OSU, this community and the state. He will be missed and remembered by many people, and his legacy will live on forever,” she said.
Halligan was elected as a Republican to Oklahoma’s state legislature in 2008, where he represented Stillwater until 2016.
His successor, Sen. Tom Dugger (R), called Halligan a “mentor and trusted friend.”
Halligan also served as Oklahoma State University’s president from 1994 until 2002.
University president, Air Force veteran
OSU president Kayse Shrum credited Halligan with rescuing the university from a period of declining enrollment and leading the school through grief after a tragic plane crash in 2001 that claimed 10 lives.
In a statement, Shrum said Halligan “faced and overcame many challenges as president of our beloved university, reversing a trend of declining enrollment and resetting our future on a more positive track.”
“Jim and his wife, Ann, led with compassion and strength,” Shrum added. “Their kind leadership was most evident when they led our Cowboy family through the devastating loss of 10 basketball team members in 2001.”
Halligan, an Iowa native, served in the Air Force as a Bulgarian translator and went on to receive a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Iowa State University.
He is survived by his wife Ann and three sons Mike, Pat and Chris.