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OU Board of Regents discusses fall plans, passes all budget proposals in June meeting

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Virtual Regents Meeting

The OU Board of Regents met virtually for their June 18 meeting.

The OU Board of Regents met Thursday to discuss program changes, sanitation devices and budget plans for the upcoming year. 

The meeting — streamed live over Youtube — was the first completely virtual meeting in the history of the board. The meeting began with Vice Chair Frank Keating welcoming everyone. 

During the meeting, OU President Joseph Harroz said the dorms are currently at 97 percent occupancy for this coming fall. Harroz said measures such as the microbial reduction system will be used to promote a clean environment. 

Regarding OU faculty hesitant to return to work due to immune deficiencies or other risk factors for the virus, Harroz said he is sympathetic to their concern. 

“We’re still working on those protocols. … Efforts are being made every day,” Harroz said. 

Harroz said the university is looking into cost-saving measures in an effort to reduce the $17.6 million deficit. Harroz said although the IT department could be facing a $5 million to $15 million budget cut, the university hopes to make only necessary cuts.  

“The goal is to make cuts where it does not negatively impact the student experience or our ability to do research,” Harroz said.

The Board of Regents plans to hold another meeting in July to discuss Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper’s resignation from his position and Jill Irvine's upcoming interim term.

Harroz said Harper did an “extraordinary job” during his administrative tenure and he is thankful Harper will remain a member of the faculty. 

“We certainly have benefited in myriad ways from (Harper’s) leadership and commitment,” Harroz said.

Keating said he agreed with Harroz’s assessment of Harper’s time as senior vice president and provost. 

“We don’t want to lose (Harper) — he’s first-rate,” Keating said.

Harroz said after the meeting that when searching for a replacement, the university will prioritize a candidate who will cover the full range of the university’s strategic plan and promote a place of belonging. Harroz said the university will not formalize a job description for the position until it finishes the strategic plan for returning to campus.

“(We will) find a leader that is best able to lead the academic enterprise on the Norman campus,” Harroz said.

There will be no tuition increases for undergraduate students, Harroz announced. Graduate students will face a decrease in the Student Facility, and Academic Facility and Life Safety fees.

OU President Joseph Harroz said the 2020–21 school year represents the third year in a row without tuition and mandatory fee increases on OU’s campus, and new investments are being made to benefit OU.

Tuition increases will be made for OU’s Doctor of Medicine, Physician Assistant, and Dental programs. The regents approved this decision unanimously.

Regent Natalie Shirley introduced the OU budget proposals. Shirley said the budget committee reviewed the plans in great detail. 

“We asked a number of probing questions, and we examined assumptions as we went into making these budget numbers,” Shirley said. 

All budget proposals for OU were unanimously passed, including the installation of a microbial reduction system.

“We’re going to have protocols that make it as safe as it practically can be,” Harroz said.

This article was updated at 10:38 p.m. Friday, June 19, to indicate that the Student Facility, and Academic Facility and Life Safety fees were decreased. 

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