Howard Barnett was appointed by the OSU/A&M Board of Regents to succeed Dr. Gary Trennepohl as president of OSU-Tulsa on Oct. 5, 2009. In March 2010, the Board of Regents expanded Barnett's role to serve as president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences in addition to president of OSU-Tulsa. The consolidated leadership position for the university's operations in Tulsa helped strengthen academic and medical operations in Tulsa.
In September 2013, Barnett resigned as president of OSU-CHS to be appointed CEO of the OSU Medical Authority and OSU Medical Trust, which own OSU Medical Center. In 2014, Barnett helped secure Mercy as a managing partner for OSU Medical Center, providing stability for the downtown Tulsa hospital. With the hospital in a more secure position, Barnett returned his full attention to OSU-Tulsa in 2015.
He stepped back as president of OSU-Tulsa in 2019, and as president emeritus focuses on advancement opportunities for the university.
Before joining OSU, Barnett was managing director of TSF Capital in Tulsa. He earned a juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Tulsa.
A life-long Tulsan, Barnett served as chief of staff for Gov. Frank Keating and as the Oklahoma secretary of commerce. In 2009, he was the chief negotiator for the OSU Medical Center Trust in its acquisition of the OSU Medical Center from Ardent Health Systems. He is also a former chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and past president of Leadership Oklahoma.
Barnett and his wife, Billie, are involved with many local and state civic and charitable organizations including the Tulsa Ballet, the Salvation Army, The Oklahoma Academy, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Philbrook Museum of Art, the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa, Youth Services of Tulsa and the National Council of Nonprofits.