STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Current Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum has announced the death of former OSU President and State Senator, James ‘Jim’ Halligan. He was 86.

“I was deeply saddened this morning to learn former Oklahoma State University President Jim Halligan has passed away. He 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. Their kind leadership was most evident when they led our Cowboy family through the devastating loss of 10 basketball team members in 2001. 

The Oklahoma State family is forever indebted to Jim and Ann for their service to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. On behalf of the OSU family, I send our deepest sympathy and prayers to Ann and the family.”

President Kayse Shrum
Senate headshot of Jim Halligan
Jim Halligan, Courtesy: Oklahoma State Legislature

Born in Moorland, Iowa, Halligan was the 16th President of OSU when he arrived from his previous presidency at New Mexico State University in August 1994.

Halligan was OSU’s President until 2002.

“The passing of former Oklahoma State President Jim Halligan is met with great sadness by the OSU/A&M Regents. President Halligan’s steady and confident leadership during challenging times enabled our university to turn the corner and set the stage for years of growth. Regents who worked with President Halligan speak of his time with respect. He will be forever remembered with great affection and admiration for leading us through one of our darkest moments when we lost 10 basketball family members in a plane crash. We send our condolences to Ann and the family.”

Chair of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, Jarold Callahan

The Republican Senator served the 21st District of Oklahoma from 2008-2016.

Halligan’s Senate successor, Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater, released the following statement:

“I met Jim Halligan when he was president of OSU and I was doing volunteer work for the university. I remember he was very soft spoken, a consummate professional and competent in every way. My admiration for his character and professionalism grew through the years, and when he decided to run for the Oklahoma Senate, he asked me to be his campaign treasurer, which I did. When Jim came to tell me he’d decided against seeking a third term, he suggested I run for the seat.

Jim was both a mentor and trusted friend, and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Ann, their children, and grandchildren as we mourn his passing and give thanks for a well-lived life of service.”

Sen. Tom Dugger