The OU Board of Regents met Tuesday to discuss the approval of the university’s strategic plan, changes to general education requirements and revisions to Title IX regulations.
The board met in person for executive session meetings Monday and Tuesday mornings, and for its July regular meeting Tuesday afternoon. The meetings were not streamed online for the public.
The board also approved the university’s strategic plan. As previously reported by The Daily, OU President Joseph Harroz said he began thinking about the university’s strategy on his first day in office as interim president.
The plan was drafted by a committee of 11 faculty members and will serve as a framework for university success into the future and help the university achieve its larger goals. According to the meeting’s agenda, this is the first strategic plan for the university in the last 25 years.
The plan features five pillars for the Norman campus:
Become a top-tier public research university
Prepare students for a life of success, meaning, service and positive impact
Make OU’s excellence affordable and attainable
Become a place of belonging and emotional growth for all students, faculty, staff and alumni
Enrich and positively impact Oklahoma, the nation and the world through research and creative activity
Harroz said the approval of this plan is “a truly monumental moment in the history of this university.”
Following a Final Rule from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that was issued in May, the board authorized Harroz to make changes to OU’s Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment policy; the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities; and the Norman campus and Health Sciences Center faculty and staff handbooks, according to the agenda. Harroz was also authorized to adopt other interim policies, revoke or rescind policies, enter into contracts, and employ or reassign personnel as may be reasonably necessary to comply with the Final Rule in a timely manner.
These changes include a new definition of sexual harassment, drawing distinction between formal complaints and other reports and imposing specific procedural requirements for grievances. These changes will take effect Aug. 14.
The board also approved changes to OU’s general education requirements. These changes include the removal of capstone courses from the general education requirements, renaming of some core areas, like changing “non-western culture” to “world culture” and the addition of a required Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course.
The implementation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course was a demand made during the Evans Hall sit-in that was held in February.
The board also voted to approve former Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper’s sabbatical leave of absence from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 with full pay. Harper stepped down from the position June 17, and will serve as a classics and letters professor upon his return. His salary will remain at its annualized rate of $329,086 until after his sabbatical, when it will revert to $274,238.
The board also approved to grant interim Senior Vice President and Provost Jill Irvine an additional stipend of $57,796.
The board did not vote on changes to the regents’ bylaws. These changes would have included removing gendered language such as changing language in the bylaws to include the use of the term “chair” and the removal of the terms “chairman” or “chairwoman” and reducing the board’s seven standing committees to five committees.
The board also approved student health insurance rate renewals for all campuses and a premium increase for the OU Health Sciences Center of 10 percent over the spring 2020 rates due to claims experience.
The board voted to approve an annual increase to the Norman campus' Student Activity Fee for the 2022 fiscal year. The fee will increase $1.50 per credit hour, increasing the total fee from $5.95 to $7.45 per credit hour effective fall 2022. According to the agenda, the fee was last increased for fiscal year 2006.
At the meeting, the board also voted to approve the selection of on-call outside counsel, a consolidated budget and planning software solution, an extension of an agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company for an additional 10 years and various personnel actions.
Harroz praised the board’s work over the last two days and said he was glad to have the meeting in person.
“It is so nice to see people in three dimensions and not just two on a Zoom call,” Harroz said.
Board chair Gary Pierson said going forward into the fall semester amid the coronavirus pandemic, he asks three things from the OU community — that they be flexible, be understanding of this situation beyond just themselves and be respectful.
“There will be no perfect solution,” Pierson said. “But we will do the best we can under all the circumstances as they develop each and every day.”
The next meeting for the OU Board of Regents has not been announced.