After seven years of service to the state's banking industry, Robert E. Harris has resigned as executive vice president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association to become the new director of the Texas Bankers Association in Austin, it was announced Wednesday.
Harris will begin his new duties in Austin in February. Max Cook, OBA senior vice president, will serve as acting executive vice president until a successor is selected, according to Wilson Roberts, OBA president.
A selection committee of 10 bankers, the majority of which are past presidents of the association, has been charged with the responsibility of hiring a new executive vice president. Bruce Rains, president-elect, will chair the committee, which plans to hold its first meeting within two weeks, Roberts said.
"Obviously there has already been an interest expressed in the job and we have candidates we are interested in," he said. "Max Cook has been named acting director and he is a candidate for the job. There is interest outside the state as well.
"Hopefully we will have someone appointed in 90 days."
Harris is currently working in both the Oklahoma and Texas offices, so the transition is expected to go smoothly.
"We are obviously disappointed he is leaving, but it is a great opportunity for him and we wish him well in his new position.
"My observation is that Bob Harris is one of the leading association executives in the country and he has been recognized as such," Roberts said. "As executive vice president of the association he has successfully unified the industry."
Harris was successful in bringing together bankers in a consensus on bank structure issues which in the past had divided members, Roberts said.
Combined with five years as director of the Nebraska Bankers Association, Harris has 12 years of experience in managing trade associations for the banking industry. For one year prior to joining the OBA and after leaving the Nebraska association, Harris served as senior executive vice president of First National Bank in Lincoln, Neb.
Harris said the Oklahoma Bankers Association has increased its stature and is perceived among banking circles as one of the strongest state bankers associations in the country.
"As I look back I am pleased with the tremendous progress we've made in modernizing banking laws in Oklahoma, which was done for the most part with strong membership support.
"The association has served as catalyst to bring bankers together to intelligently discuss proposed changes and reach compromises that were acceptable to the vast majority."
The association has directly benefited from the expansion of products and services which has enabled it to increase the budget five-fold without ever increasing dues during the last seven years, Harris said.
Since joining the OBA in 1980, Harris has been instrumental in drafting and lobbying for legislation to expand bank branching laws, form multi-bank holding companies and adopt interstate banking. …