OU President David Boren said in a statement Monday he believes his position on the Continental Resources Board of Directors does not pose a conflict of interest with his position at the university. He said that it would be a poor decision to sever ties with the state's leading industry.
Boren said that no one from the Oklahoma Geological Survey has ever been disciplined for their research and researchers at the Survey will attest to that.
According to a May 15 article by Bloomberg Business, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm told the dean of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy he wanted scientists who were studying links between the oil and gas industry's actions and earthquakes dismissed from the university.
Boren received $349,720 in 2014 for his position on the Board of Directors at Continental Resources. Boren has served on the Board of Directors since March 2009.
Read his statement below:
"I have never allowed for it to be a conflict of interest. The search committee for the Oklahoma Geological Survey was totally independent. Mr. Hamm was not on the committee, nor was anyone from Continental on the committee. A very distinguished Harvard graduate was picked for the position. As any researcher at the Geological Survey will indicate, no one at the Survey during my time as President has been disciplined for their research and no one has had a research project canceled by the University. Repeated statements have been given by me, indicating that the academic freedom of the Geological Survey will be absolutely protected. Rumors and speculation cannot be controlled, but the facts indicate that the University has consistently protected the full academic independence of the Survey.
Given the role of energy production in the state's economy and the importance of energy producers in our alumni base, it would be a mistake for the University to cut off all ties with one of our state's leading industries."