Brad Carson
21st President of the University of Tulsa
Assumed office
July 1, 2021
Preceded byGerard Clancy
Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
In office
April 2, 2015 – April 8, 2016
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byJessica Wright
Succeeded byPeter Levine (acting)
United States Under Secretary of the Army
In office
March 28, 2014 – June 30, 2015
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJoseph W. Westphal
Succeeded byRyan D. McCarthy
General Counsel of the Army
In office
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded bySteven J. Morello
Succeeded byAlissa Starzak
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byTom Coburn
Succeeded byDan Boren
Personal details
Born (1967-03-11) March 11, 1967 (age 56)
Winslow, Arizona, U.S.
Cherokee Nation
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseJulie Carson
EducationBaylor University (BA)
Trinity College, Oxford (MA)
University of Oklahoma (JD)

Brad Rogers Carson (born March 11, 1967) is the 21st President of the University of Tulsa.

Prior to his presidency, Carson was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Oklahoma. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2005.

He is the only person to have voted on the authorization of the Iraq War in Congress and to have subsequently fought in it.[1] He served with the 84th EOD Battalion of the US Army in 2008–2009, earning a Bronze Star.

From 2015 to 2016, Carson was the Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, where he initiated a number of notable reforms to include opening up all combat positions to women, open service by transgender service members, and new recruiting and retention practices.[2][3] He served as Under Secretary of the Army from 2014 to 2015 and as General Counsel of the Army from 2012 to 2014.[4][5]

From 2017 to 2021, Carson was a professor of public policy at the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.[6]

On April 5, 2021, the University of Tulsa announced Carson had been selected to be the 21st president of the university, effective July 1, 2021.[7]

Early life and education

Carson was born in Winslow, Arizona. His father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During Carson's childhood the family relocated a number of times, resulting in Carson being raised in several different Native American communities, including reservations in Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas, as well as the Eastern Band Cherokee Reserve in North Carolina. As a teenager, Carson moved back to Oklahoma, where his family has roots in the Cherokee Nation, of which Carson is an enrolled member.[8]

Carson studied at Jenks High School and Baylor University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He became the first student at Baylor in 55 years to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.[9] As a Rhodes Scholar, Carson went to Trinity College, Oxford, and earned a second BA (which became an MA a few years later) in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. He attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law, graduating at the top of his class in 1994.

According to The Almanac of American Politics, Carson had originally intended to attend Yale Law School, only to change his mind while at Oxford.


After graduation from the University of Oklahoma, Carson took a job at a prestigious Oklahoma law firm, Crowe & Dunlevy. In 1996, his firm was awarded the Exceptional Contribution to Legal Services Award by Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma. In 1997 Carson was selected as a White House Fellow, where he was assigned to The Pentagon as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Election to Congress

Brad Carson's official photo as a Member of Congress

In 2000, he was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives from Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District, located in the northeastern part of the state. In the primary, Carson defeated long-term state representative Bill Settle, who was chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.[10]

After redistricting changed the political composition of his district to be much more favorable to a Democratic candidate, Carson was reelected in 2002 with nearly 75 percent of the vote.[11]

During his tenure in Congress, Carson was generally seen as a moderate Democrat. He was a member of the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. He served on the Transportation Committee,[12] the Natural Resources Committee,[13] and the Small Business Committee.[14] On October 10, 2002, Brad Carson was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

2004 U.S. Senate election

Main article: 2004 United States Senate election in Oklahoma

In 2004, Carson did not seek reelection to the House, and ran for the open U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by retiring Republican Don Nickles. He easily won the Democratic primary, and after a tough campaign, lost the election to Republican Tom Coburn, his predecessor in the House. Despite Carson's loss, election analyst Stuart Rothenberg called the Carson campaign the best-run campaign in the nation in 2004.[15] The Weekly Standard called him "The Perfect Democrat"[16] After the election, Carson wrote an article for The New Republic which was the subject of much discussion.[17] He was succeeded in the House by fellow Democrat Dan Boren.

Post-Congressional work

Brad Carson addresses his Veterans Advisory Committee (2004).

After the 2004 Senate election, Carson's term in the United States Congress expired on January 3, 2005; Carson was succeeded by Dan Boren. Carson indicated that he had no immediate plans to seek political office, and, in January 2005, he accepted a semester-long teaching fellowship specializing in U.S. politics at Harvard University. Upon leaving Harvard, he returned to his hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma, and worked as chief executive officer of Cherokee Nation Businesses, which is owned by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in Catoosa, Oklahoma.

As an expert in Indian law, Carson oversaw one of the largest businesses in the state, with thousands of employees, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, and more than a dozen in-house lawyers who specialized in Indian and corporate law. In December 2008, Carson left his post at Cherokee Nation Businesses to deploy to Iraq as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy. He was officer-in-charge of weapons intelligence teams embedded with the U.S. Army's 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion in the nine southern provinces of Iraq; the teams worked with EOD teams at seven bases and investigated bomb sites, caches, smuggling routes, and other activities related to improvised explosive devices. For this work, Carson received, among other awards, the Bronze Star. On his return, he was elected to the board of Cherokee Nation Businesses.[18]

In January 2010, Carson assumed a position as professor of business and law at the University of Tulsa, and as director of the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit energy policy organization funded by billionaire George Kaiser's family foundation.[19][20] In his academic work, Carson has written extensively about the economics of renewable energy.[21][22] He has also contributed journalism to The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, Blueprint, and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. In 2010, Carson contributed to a symposium[23] issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, in which he was one of ten writers (including Martha Nussbaum, Michael Sandel, and others) discussing the future of progressive political thought and politics. He is the author of several other works, including a guide to federal appellate practice, a work co-authored with Judge Robert Bacharach (who was appointed by President Obama to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals). More recently, he has been working on a long series of articles about military reform for the online journal War on the Rocks.[24][25]

Carson had met Barack Obama in 2004 when they were both nominees of the Democratic Party for open seats in the United States Senate. Carson endorsed Obama in 2006 for the 2008 presidential election.[26] Carson served as Obama's personal representative in the approval of candidates for delegates from Oklahoma to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Oklahoma was the first state to name its complete delegation to the 2008 Democratic Convention.

Return to politics

In June 2011, U.S. Congressman Dan Boren announced that he would not seek another term.[27] Carson announced shortly thereafter that he would seek to win back his former seat.[28] Despite this announcement, he later announced that he would not seek his old seat after all.[29]

Under Secretary of the Army, Brad Carson

Obama administration

On September 14, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Carson to serve as the General Counsel of the United States Department of the Army.[30] The United States Senate confirmed Carson by unanimous consent on December 17, 2011.[31]

On January 6, 2014, President Obama nominated Carson to be Under Secretary of the Army, to replace Joseph W. Westphal, whom the president had nominated to be the United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.[32] On February 12, 2014, Carson was confirmed by the United States Senate[33] and he was sworn in as the 31st Under Secretary of the Army on March 27, 2014.[34] Fellow Oklahoma Democrat, Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee nation, praised Carson, saying, "I applaud President Obama for nominating Brad Carson to this post [...] Brad is a Cherokee citizen and has committed his life to one of our Cherokee values: serving people. As a U.S. Congressman he served the people of Oklahoma's second district, as a CEO he served Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Cherokee people [...] he will be a champion for our American military in his role as Army undersecretary."[8]

As Chief Operating Officer of the Department of the Army, Carson led day-to-day-business operations of the global U.S. Army business enterprise, with over 490,000 active duty soldiers, 335,000 National Guard soldiers, 200,000 Army Reserve soldiers, and over 330,000 civilians. He supervised the development and submission of the Army's budget, which exceeded $150 billion. In a move lauded by veterans groups, Carson made national headlines when he formally apologized to veterans of the Iraq War for the Army's mishandling of chemical weapons exposures.[35]

Carson visiting with Green Berets at Fort Bragg

Carson served as the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness from April 2015 until April 2016, resigning while still awaiting Senate formal approval.[36] As undersecretary, Carson led a number of pioneering initiatives such as the Department of Defense's "Force of the Future" reforms, the largest personnel changes to the military and civilian workforce in nearly 50 years.[37] Carson oversaw the historic opening of all combat positions to women.[38] He assisted in the reformation of the military retirement system for the first time in 70 years and set new policy for transgender servicemembers.[38][39]

The University of Tulsa

Carson was sworn in as President of the University of Tulsa in July 2021.[40] He succeeded Gerard Clancy, who left office after a vote of no-confidence.[41] In July 2023, Carson was president when the university launched a new Honors College, focusing on literature and philosophy.[42] During Carson's tenure in 2022, the university had more National Merit Scholars per capita than other university in the nation.[43] In 2023, Carson pushed for the organizing of more concerts at Chapman Stadium, seeing the university hold the first major concert in the venue since 1990 with the performance of Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Alice Cooper. He also expanded the university's programs in Tulsa's arts district and led the university in taking over organizing responsibilities for Tulsa's Mayfest.[44]

In 2023, TU was recognized as a "free speech" university and was the first university in Oklahoma to receive a "green light" rating by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. This recognition was given after the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression aided Carson in revising the university's policies on speech and assembly.[45]

Personal life

Carson's wife, Julie, served on the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. They live in Claremore, Oklahoma.[46] They have one son, Jack.[34] In 2017, Carson completed the Marathon des Sables, a 250-km ultramarathon in the Sahara Desert often called the world's toughest footrace.[47] In 2018, he completed the Jungle Ultra, a similar race through the Amazon jungle.[48]

Electoral history

Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district: Results 2000–2002[49]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2000 Brad Carson 107,273 55% Andy Ewing 81,672 42% Neil Mavis Libertarian 6,467 3%
2002 Brad Carson 146,748 74% Kent Pharaoh 51,234 26%
Oklahoma Senator (Class III) results: 2004[49]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2004 Brad Carson 596,750 41% Tom Coburn 763,433 53% Sheila Bilyeu Independent 86,663 6%

See also


  1. ^ "Game changer: tales of transformation". June 27, 2017. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (June 9, 2016). "Defense Secretary Seeks to Find and Keep Those With Key Expertise". The New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "Transgender troops could raise concerns for service leaders". USA Today. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Carson sworn in as 20th general counsel of the U.S. Army". United States Army. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "Carson sworn in as 31st Under Secretary of U.S. Army". United States Army. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  6. ^ "Batten Professor Selected as University of Tulsa's Next President". UVA Today. April 6, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  7. ^ Krehbiel, Randy. "Former Congressman Brad Carson named new University of Tulsa president". Tulsa World. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Cherokee Nation Principal Chief congratulates Cherokee citizen Brad Carson on presidential nomination". Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  9. ^ "Office of the American Secretary: The Rhodes Trust: Winning Institutions Search". Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  10. ^ Pierce, Daniel S. (September 18, 2000). "Hungry Democrats Pick between Settle, Carson". Archived from the original on October 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "Summary Results". Archived from the original on November 17, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  12. ^ "Carson nabs seat on House Transportation Committee – – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports –". January 31, 2001. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "House Natural Resources Committee". Archived from the original on July 9, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "House Small Business Committee". Archived from the original on July 9, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "GOP hasn't yet sewn up control of the senate". Roll Call. October 2004. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  16. ^ "304 Articles". Weekly Standard. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "Brad Carson speaks – and pens a brilliant TNR article". November 11, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Clifton Adcock, "Former U.S. Rep. Brad Carson, named to Cherokee board, tells of mission in Iraq", Tulsa World, December 14, 2009.
  19. ^ Rod Walton, "Ex-lawmaker to head TU energy institute: Brad Carson will direct NEPI, founded with a Kaiser gift", Tulsa World, January 26, 2010.
  20. ^ Marc Ambinder, "Can These Two Democrats Inject Rationalism Into the Energy Debate?", The Atlantic, July 14, 2010.
  21. ^ "Renewable Energy". SSRN 2014773.
  22. ^ "Energy Finance and Economics: Analysis and Valuation, Risk Management, and the Future of Energy – Betty Simkins, Russell Simkins". Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  23. ^ Democracy Journal Archived December 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Defense Reform in the Next Administration". September 12, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Pentagon's Fig Tree: Reforming The Military Health System". September 26, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  26. ^ Carson, Brad."Congressman Carson's Open Letter To Indian Country" Archived December 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, The Native American Times, July 16, 2007.
  27. ^ Casteel, Chris (June 7, 2011). "Oklahoma's U.S. Rep. Dan Boren won't seek re-election in 2012". News OK. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  28. ^ Muskal, Michael (June 7, 2011). "Brad Carson throws hat in ring as parties wrestle for Oklahoma congressional district". Los Angeles Times.
  29. ^ Krehbiel, Randy (June 29, 2011). "Brad Carson won't seek Second District seat vacated by Boren". News OK. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  30. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". September 14, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2017 – via National Archives.
  31. ^ "Today's Senate Floor Log". Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
  32. ^ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate". January 6, 2014 – via National Archives.
  33. ^ "Former U.S. Rep. Brad Carson confirmed as undersecretary of the Army | Government". February 14, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Carson sworn in as 31st Under Secretary of U.S. Army | Article | The United States Army". United States Army. March 27, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  35. ^ "Veterans Hurt by Chemical Weapons in Iraq Get Apology". The New York Times. March 26, 2015.
  36. ^ Tilghman, Andrew (March 14, 2016). "Pentagon's top personnel official resigns". Military Times. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  37. ^ Times, Military (August 28, 2015). "force-future-report-ash-carter-review".
  38. ^ a b "The Future of Personnel Policy at DoD". Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  39. ^ "Transgender Service Members Can Now Serve Openly, Carter Announces". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  40. ^ photos, Staff and Wire (April 5, 2023). "Throwback Tulsa: Brad Carson named TU's president two years ago today". Tulsa World. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  41. ^ The World, Randy Krehbiel Tulsa (November 14, 2019). "TU faculty votes 'no confidence' in President Gerard Clancy, Provost Janet Levit". Tulsa World. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  42. ^ daxsom (January 5, 2023). "TU announces new Honors College, inaugural dean". The University of Tulsa. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  43. ^ Hunt, Ava (September 18, 2023). "TU welcomes most Merit Scholars of any university this fall – The Collegian". Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  44. ^ "Editorial: University of Tulsa making city stronger through out-of-box ideas and partnerships". Tulsa World. August 18, 2023. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  45. ^ Fire (October 31, 2023). "University of Tulsa becomes first Oklahoma college to earn top rating for free speech | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression". Retrieved December 11, 2023.
  46. ^ "Brad Carson". Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  47. ^ "Le Marathon des Sables 2017".
  48. ^ "Multi Day Ultra Marathons | Multi Day Trail Running". Beyond the Ultimate. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  49. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2007.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byTom Coburn Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district 2001–2005 Succeeded byDan Boren Party political offices Preceded byDon Carroll Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Oklahoma(Class 3) 2004 Succeeded byJim Rogers Political offices Preceded byJoseph W. Westphal United States Under Secretary of the Army 2014–2015 Succeeded byEric FanningActing Preceded byJessica Wright Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and ReadinessActing 2015–2016 Succeeded byPeter LevineActing U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byMia Loveas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United Statesas Former US Representative Succeeded byJim Bridenstineas Former US Representative