OU Regent Bill Burgess dies
University of Oklahoma Board of Regents member William “Bill” Burgess died Friday. He was 62.
Former Gov. Mary Fallin appointed Burgess to a seven-year term on the Board of Regents in 2014.
His death creates a second vacancy on the board, which will be filled by Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Citing health issues, Clay Bennett resigned last month as chairman of the OU Board of Regents.
Earlier this week, Stitt said he wanted to bring diversity to the board, especially as the university has faced criticism for its handling of racist incidents in recent weeks.
On Saturday, Stitt praised Burgess for his dedication to the state and his home community of Lawton.
“As the son of a sergeant major in the Army, Bill Burgess had a special place in his heart for our nation’s soldiers stationed at Fort Sill, and he will be remembered as a selfless servant to this community,” Stitt said.
“While the people in Lawton were his first priority, Burgess was a generous giver of his time and resources to move our entire state forward. Burgess’ legacy will live on through the vital projects he supported and advocated for to advance Oklahoma’s military installations, to mentor young Oklahoma entrepreneurs, and to promote higher education.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burgess family during this difficult time.”
Details of Burgess’ death had not been confirmed by late Saturday.
Burgess developed a software engineering company and was once the owner of the Lawton Constitution newspaper. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
He graduated from Cameron University and received his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
The Board of Regents is also the governing body for Cameron University and Rogers State University.
“Bill was ‘Cameron’s Regent’ supporting higher education and southwest Oklahoma tirelessly,” Cameron University President John McArthur said in a statement.
“From his time as our student body president through a business career and recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus and service as a State Regent and University of Oklahoma Regent, he has always supported Cameron University and access to education for the least of us.”
The remaining regents issued a statement Saturday:
“Bill had a keen sense of humor and common sense. He combined those qualities with a commitment to volunteer service and leadership which he exhibited throughout his life. His leadership and friendship will be missed.”