Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating spoke on campus on Aug. 26 about his experience in leadership during the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Leading in crisis
Keating’s lecture, “Leading in Crisis: The Oklahoma City Bombing,” was sponsored by Friends of the Library and the Learning Resources Center.
He described the Murrah Building after April 19, 1995 as being “blasted in half.”
“We knew when it occurred that there were major casualties,” he said.
Keating said volunteers came from across the United States to assist with recovery.
“It was a major calamity,” he said.
Keating shared a story about a firefighter he encountered the morning after the bombing.
“He took his finger, and this is gospel, stuck it in my chest and said, ‘You find out who did this, because all I pulled from that rubble were a child’s finger and an American flag,’ and he walked away,” he said.
One role of leadership in the aftermath of the bombing was to provide comfort and consolation for out-of-state volunteers, Keating said.
Volunteers had access to food, water, phone calls, medical care and anything else they needed without cost, he said, provided by the state and private citizens who wanted to help.
FEMA and search and rescue teams came from Virginia, Florida, California and other states, he said.
Keating began the “Heartland Scholarship Fund” to allow children who lost parents in the bombing, or who were injured in the bombing themselves, to go to college for free, according to the Oklahoma City National Memorial website.
Twenty-seven of these children have used the scholarship fund. Keating raised more than $6 million for the scholarship fund, according to Forbes.com.
Keating became the 25th governor of Oklahoma shortly before the bombing.
RSC President Jeanie Webb, who attended the Aug. 26 lecture, said Keating was “one of the truly best governors we’ve had.”
Melissa Huffman, director of library resources, said Friends of the Library and the LRC chose to invite Keating to speak because they “knew what a benefit it would be for us as a campus.”
Being governor at the time of the bombing was significant, and Keating did the job well, Huffman added.
Keating is currently president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, according to the ABA website; previously, he was president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers.
Keating served under President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush in the Justice and Housing departments, as well as in the Department of the Treasury, according to Forbes.