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OU holds off on forming search committee for next president despite replacement search option

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Adran Gibbs

President of SGA Adran Gibbs speaks to the class of 2023 Aug. 18.

Though OU’s previous presidential search committee was formed only a month after former OU President David Boren announced his intent to retire, the new committee may not form until next summer.

The OU Board of Regents announced in May that interim OU President Joseph Harroz will serve a term of at least 15 months, and that the search for the next permanent OU President will “commence at that time.” 

The presidential search for former OU President James Gallogly took five months to complete after the search committee was first formed. Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs said the next selection process may be much quicker. 

“I think it's gonna be a little bit before anyone hears anything (about the presidential search),” Gibbs said. “I just think (the regents) are trying to get through the school year and make sure that we have some stability, at least for one year.”

The presidential search committee is recommended to consist of faculty, students and staff, according to the Regents’ Policy Manual. During the previous presidential search, the 17-member committee’s composition was finalized by the regents less than two weeks after Boren announced his intent to retire, and members were chosen about a month after the announcement.

The previous committee was composed of five faculty members, three from OU’s Norman campus and two from the Health Sciences Center; two staff members, one from OU’s Norman campus and one from the Health Sciences Center; three students, one undergraduate, one graduate student and one Health Sciences Center student; and seven outside members. The student members each had one-third of a vote, staff members had half of a vote and the remaining members had one full vote.

The selection of the previous committee’s student members caused controversy when the regents told former SGA President J.D. Baker he would have to present them with a list of nominees in seven days, roughly 24 hours before the meeting of the Undergraduate Student Congress. 

Although Baker was not required to receive congressional approval for the nominees, some congress members were dismayed by the late notice and felt the regents thought of SGA’s approval simply as a “rubber stamp.”

Now, three months after Gallogly’s announcement of his intent to retire, Gibbs has yet to hear of plans regarding the next search committee, but said if the process of selecting student nominees remains the same, that will most likely be up to his successor as SGA president. 

Gibbs said he hopes this search can be more transparent than last year’s, which required committee members to sign “confidentiality agreements” in which they agreed not to discuss the names of any candidates or the content of search committee meetings with the public. 

“The public needs to be informed pretty quickly,” Gibbs said. “I just want to make sure that it's an open search process ... I know it can be done. So we just have to make sure that everyone is aware so that it doesn't get swept under the rug.”

Based on recent talks with the OU administration and the regents, Gibbs said he thinks the university will take steps to make the next search process more transparent.

“(A closed process) makes it harder on everyone else,” Gibbs said. “And as we saw with Gallogly, I mean, he just didn't even start with the trust component ... something that wasn't even his fault. I think it's more than likely going to (be transparent).”

Former Graduate Student Senate Chair Carrie Pavlowsky and former SGA Vice President Cameron Burleson were two of the three student members of the previous search committee. Both said they hope transparency is a bigger consideration during the next search.

“I really have no qualms whatsoever with the way that it was run,” Burleson said. “I think one thing that is very understandable is, people were hoping that the transparency would expand outside of the room with just the committee and there would be some type of transparency with the university community. And that's something that they'll have to explore.”

The university paid executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates over $250,000 to recruit and vet candidates in the previous presidential search. 

Burleson said the firm maintained a “pretty well-oiled machine” for the process, since the committee had “no real interaction with the (regents) whatsoever” while they were responsible for presenting the regents with a "short list" from which the regents chose the president

The contract the firm had with the university included a clause guaranteeing the firm would conduct a replacement search if the chosen candidate “vacates the position” within 12 months of assuming the position. But the contract states that the new search must start “immediately following the departure of the placement,” and the OU Board of Regents previously said the search would begin after 15 months. 

When asked Aug. 14 to comment on the timeline of the search or whether or not the university would be taking advantage of the replacement search option, a spokesperson for OU Public Affairs told The Daily they did not have an update on the answers to these questions.

Based on her experience with the firm while on the committee, Pavlowsky said she thought the university would follow a similar process and again use a search firm.

“(The search firm was) very professional, they knew what they were doing. They were well-regarded in the field,” Pavlowsky said. “I hope whoever (the next committee chooses) is the best person for the university. And I look forward to hearing about it.”

Editor-in-Chief

Jordan Miller is a journalism and political science senior serving as The Daily's Editor-in-Chief. Previously she served as The Daily's news managing editor, news editor, assistant visual editor and was an SGA beat reporter.

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