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Interim OU President Joseph Harroz releases letter to OU community on new OU budget

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Interim OU President Joseph Harroz speaks to the OU Board of Regents June 25.

Interim OU President Joseph Harroz published a letter to the OU community after the OU Board of Regents approved the university’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

“Today we presented to our Board of Regents an annual budget that is financially sound and makes new investments in the pursuit of our University’s sacred mission,” Harroz said in the letter. “As we look to the coming academic year with this budget, we see the progress we have made together and the bright future that lies ahead.”

In the letter, Harroz said the new budget eliminated a structural operating deficit by taking actions he said were “painful” but ultimately required.

“One year ago, we were spending more money than we were taking in at a rate that was unsustainable. Today, a budget has been put in place that ensures our financial health. We have achieved this by honestly and clearly addressing our budget problems,” Harroz said in the letter. “At times, this past year was painful, but the actions we have taken were necessary, and they were done at all times in a way that was meant to minimize the impact to our mission.”

In the letter, Harroz said the budget also aimed to help OU “achieve excellence in teaching, research and service.”

“A great comprehensive, public University provides excellence at a price that does not exclude the most talented because of their economic circumstance,” Harroz said in the letter. “We continue to make new investments in need-based scholarships, notably the Crimson Commitment. And for the second year in a row, we are holding undergraduate tuition and fees flat.”

Eligible OU staff will be receiving an increase in pay for the first time in five years, totaling “on average 3 percent” of their current pay and with more details to come, Harroz said in the letter. 

In the letter, Harroz said faculty would also see a pay increase.

“The state leadership has stipulated that new funds be used to increase faculty compensation at 2.2 percent, and on Oct. 1 our faculty will receive an increase in compensation,” Harroz said in the letter. “Coupled with the 2.6 percent faculty raise pool that was implemented at the beginning of this year, we are making significant progress recognizing our talented and dedicated faculty.”

Research programs in the areas of “quantum technology, air, space and defense, and computer science” will be funded by an $8.3 million provision from the Oklahoma state legislature, Harroz said in the letter.

OU must continue to focus its resources to serve its mission, Harroz said in the letter, and to more efficiently serve its students.

“As we begin the new academic year, our efforts to focus our talent and financial resources on our mission must always continue. To do otherwise would betray our students, the state, and the broader societies that benefit uniquely from our University,” Harroz said in the letter. “With every collective decision and action, we must ask the question: Is what we are doing advancing our mission in the most effective and efficient way possible? If the answer is “no,” we must find a better way.”

Harroz concluded the letter by asking the OU community to look ahead to next academic year optimistically.

“We can approach the coming academic year together with a sense of optimism and excitement, and I want to be clear that a great University is never satisfied. … I believe that the world has never needed the OU spirit – a spirit of optimism and community – more than it does now,” Harroz said in the letter. “We have to keep seeing and believing in the possibilities.”

 

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