Looking at the early résumés of TU President Gerard Clancy and his wife, Paula, no one would be surprised to learn that years later Mrs. Clancy is viewed as a campus leader at a top-rated national university. While Gerry was powering through medical school, Paula was carving out a career as a college advisor.
Born in Des Moines, she attended the University of Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human relations. When they met, Paula was a junior and Gerry was a senior. He went on to pursue his goal of becoming a psychiatrist, and she received two master’s degrees — one in student development and one in counseling.
“We lived in a one-bedroom apartment in married student housing for three years,” she said. Paula worked at Kirkwood Community College for seven years until the couple’s first two babies were born. When the children were older, Paula went back to work at the University of Iowa.
“I love working with college students,” she said. “Students develop a sense of purpose in college. Students develop a sense of identity in college.”
In addition to working as a career advisor, Paula worked in student disability services at Iowa and was thrilled when Gerry followed her lead in the education field and began his journey toward eventually becoming a university president.
The couple has been married more than three decades, and many of those have been spent in Tulsa where Paula served three years as a counselor at Cascia Hall schools. She gains much of her inspiration from working with young people. “It is energizing to be around the students,” she said.
“TU has amazing students, and I want to help tell their stories”
“TU has amazing students, and I want to help tell their stories,” she said. Since assuming the campus leadership role in November, President and Mrs. Clancy have visited China, Israel, Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City and Washington, D.C. All along the way, Paula is able to share news about TU’s successes. She sees her role these days as less of an advisor and more of a broadcaster. “I want to help shine a light on our fabulous students.”
Back in Tulsa, Paula attends student-sponsored activities at TU such as international fairs and talent shows and hosts celebrations and advancement events at Skelly Mansion, where the couple lives with their youngest child. “We’ve invited donors to Skelly for a special tea where we raised funds for scholarships that support students studying arts and humanities. We also selected student artwork to hang in the dining room at Skelly Mansion to showcase the talented young people at TU.”
In addition to being an advocate for all TU students, Paula has a special place in her heart for students who have served in the military. “Our student-veterans are heroes. They are selfless,” she said. “The University of Tulsa has a wonderfully engaged Student Veterans Association and a great Yellow Ribbon Program that offers guidance and support to service members who are making the transition back into civilian life.”
Dr. Clancy is one of only two military veterans who currently serves as president at major research universities. And whether it’s the U.S. Air Force or medical school or moving across the country to take the helm at a college campus, Paula has proudly stood beside Gerry all along the way. “My husband is my best friend,” she said. “I am lucky to walk through life with someone who sees things through the same lens as I do. We’re a good team.”
The team is growing, too. The couple’s oldest son, Sam, a health law attorney in Tulsa, married Rogers High School teacher Hana last July. Meanwhile, the Clancys’ daughter, Mary, is pursuing a graduate degree in speech pathology at TU and has been named a 2017-18 Albert Schweitzer Fellow; and son, Joey, who is interested in computers and technology, is preparing to begin college after graduating from Bishop Kelley.