George Lynn Cross

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George Lynn Cross
Born May 12, 1905
Woonsocket, South Dakota
Died December 31, 1998(1998-12-31) (aged 93)
Norman, Oklahoma
Nationality United States
Education Doctorate in botany
Occupation University President
Years active 1943-1968
Employer University of Oklahoma
Known for "I would like to build a University of which the football team could be proud."
Predecessor Joseph A. Brandt
Successor John Herbert Hollomon, Jr.

George Lynn Cross (May 12, 1905 – December 31, 1998) was a botanist, author, and the seventh and longest serving president of the University of Oklahoma[1] from 1943 to 1968. Cross oversaw the expansion and construction of numerous university buildings and helped lead the college through the 1960s protest period.[2]

Early life[edit]

Cross was born in South Dakota and attended South Dakota State College, where he earned a master's degree in 1927.[2] He earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago, where he was eventually offered a job as an associated professor at the University of Oklahoma.

Cross's academic specialty was botany, and George Lynn Cross Hall, which houses OU's department of botany and microbiology, was named in his honor and in tribute to this fact. While president, Cross prepared specimen slides that are still used in botany classes.


Cross's popularity quickly grew amongst the faculty and staff, and when the university president at the time stepped down, he was named interim president while the board of regents searched for a new candidate. They eventually realized no better candidate existed and he remained president for 24 years.

Cross oversaw the college through a period of skyrocketing enrollment following World War II as thousands of veterans attended under the GI Bill.[1] He saw the construction of 37 new buildings and the donation by the U.S. Navy, in May 1946, of 1,400 acres (5.7 km2) to the campus.[1] Cross also oversaw the integration of the University of Oklahoma and the student protests of the 1960s.[1]

Cross was known for his public speaking ability and quick wit. His most famous quote came at a budget meeting with state legislators. After a long presentation and 45 minute justification of the OU budget,a legislator asked him why the university needed more money. A frustrated Cross replied "I would like to build a University of which the football team could be proud."[2]

David L. Boren, the university's current president, proclaimed that he wanted his time as president of the university to parallel that of Cross's.


  1. ^ a b c d Levy, David W., "University of Oklahoma," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 26, 2010).
  2. ^ a b c Pittman, Kitty, Cross, George Lynn (1905-1998)," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 26, 2010).

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Joseph A. Brandt
President of the University of Oklahoma
Succeeded by
John Herbert Hollomon, Jr.