OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Former gubernatorial candidate and Eateries Inc. founder Vince Orza was named interim dean of the business school at Oklahoma City University.
Orza, who will take a leave of absence from Edmond-based Eateries, succeeds Bart Ward, who stepped down earlier this week. Ward will return to the classroom as an accounting professor at OCU's Meinders School of Business.
OCU President Tom McDaniel said Orza's local ties and entrepreneurial experience made him a good fit for the school.
``We wanted to get someone who would bring energy and vitality to the school of business that we all want to keep going,'' McDaniel said. ``We wanted someone who would help us get students and help us get connected to the business community.''
Orza holds bachelor's and master's degrees from OCU and a doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma. He also is a trustee of OCU and taught there for 15 years while he built Eateries, a chain of 76 restaurants in 26 states.
``In the next year or so, I look forward to reaching out to the business community and visiting a lot of schools,'' Orza said. ``This school of business offers enormous opportunities for people.''
McDaniel said the search for a permanent dean at the business school could take at least eight months. Orza didn't rule out his interest in the position but said it will be up to the trustees, faculty and search committee.
He said Eateries will be in capable hands while he serves as interim dean.
``We have great employees,'' Orza said. ``They'll do just fine without me for a little while.''
Trustee Herman Meinders praised Orza, a longtime friend and former fraternity brother. Meinders and his wife, LaDonna, donated $18.3 million to build the business school.
``He is a man of integrity and great know-how who will bring an abundance of real-world entrepreneurial experience to Oklahoma City University's business school,'' Meinders said.
Orza will begin work as interim dean July 1.