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Chancellor Paul G. Risser

Paul G. RisserDr. Paul G. Risser was chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education from 2003-2006. He lead a state system comprised of 25 state colleges and universities and 10 constituent agencies. Risser provided leadership on matters relating to standards for Oklahoma higher education, courses and programs of study, budget allocations for institutions, fees and tuition, and strategic planning.

Risser has the distinction of having led two universities as president, Oregon State University (1996-2002) and Miami University of Ohio (1993-1996). In addition, he served as vice president for research and then as provost at the University of New Mexico (1986-1993), and as the chief of the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois (1981-1986). Throughout these academic leadership positions, he has been recognized nationally for encouraging student access, focusing on high-quality academic programs, fostering strong research success and working closely with local and statewide communities.

Risser is an internationally renowned researcher with more than 100 scientific papers published in refereed journals and six written or edited books. Among his research specialties are the flow of energy and materials through grassland and forested ecosystems, the effects of climate on plant community productivity, and landscape ecology. His research record has led to distinguished national academic recognition as fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1985 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. In addition he has had professional consulting relationships with more than 20 national scientific organizations. He now chairs the Science Committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., and the board of trustees of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, N.Y. Risser previously served as secretary-general of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), Paris, France, and as program director for Ecosystem Studies at the National Science Foundation. Risser has served as president of three scientific organizations: the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Society of America and the Association of Southwestern Naturalists.

Risser has a doctorate in botany and soils and a master's in botany from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor's in biology from Grinnell College. He began his professional career in 1967 as an assistant professor in the Department of Botany and Microbiology at the University of Oklahoma. Ten years later he was promoted to full professor. During his years at OU (1967-1981), he also served as assistant director of the Oklahoma Biological Station, director of the Oklahoma Biological Survey and chairman of the Department of Botany and Microbiology.

Risser is a native Oklahoman, born in Blackwell in 1939, where he grew up on a wheat and cattle farm and attended school through high school. He is married to Les Risser, and they have six grown children, four sons and two daughters.

Risser is now serving as professor and chair of the Research Cabinet at OU.

Chancellor's Column
Oklahoma Research Initiative