(On Sunday) morning, I eagerly read the letter from OU Student Government Association President Yaseen Shurbaji about his thoughts regarding President-designate James Gallogly. As an OU student, I have great interest in the student body president’s perspective regarding our new OU president. However, I remained disappointed after reading SGA President Shurbaji’s letter. Although it addresses many of the concerns held by those in the OU community, it did not address the most pressing issues — the secretive nature of the new OU president’s appointment and how President-designate Gallogly expects to engage with OU students, faculty and staff now that he has been selected.
The lack of transparency in the selection process that resulted in James Gallogly’s appointment is, of course, a point of concern that has been raised by many in the OU community — including my mother, Dean Suzette Grillot. While I support her and her colleagues’ efforts in exposing the limitations of the presidential search process, I also see the direct consequences of this exclusive appointment as an undergraduate student and someone who loves my university. I can see and hear how many of my peers are skeptical of the secret process, question the motives of our regents and, as a result, are finding it difficult to trust our new president.
Unfortunately, the university community is now forced to engage with and about James Gallogly after his appointment instead of during the search process, where it would have been appropriate to learn about potential candidates. Many student leaders, like SGA President Shurbaji, have attempted to assuage the student body and others who have questioned Gallogly’s ability to lead our university by telling us that they have met with him and are confident in his ability. But the overwhelming majority of students, staff, faculty and others that James Gallogly will lead have not been afforded that opportunity. We do not know specifics about his vision for the university. We do not know his specific thoughts about higher education. We do not know how he will lead and enhance a diverse public institution. And we do not know how his immense skills in private corporations will transfer to our public university environment. I truly hope that our student leaders are confident in his ability, but I personally would like to find that confidence for myself.
During the past week since the presidential announcement, James Gallogly has been largely silent to questions posed by many university constituents, choosing to only meet with select student leaders, donors and other privileged, high-profile university stakeholders. This selectivity furthers the environment of secrecy and exclusion of campus voices that was created through the process that appointed James Gallogly, and this is not only concerning for our university but is also not acceptable for many students. Although it has not been very long since his appointment, there has been no mention of President-designate Gallogly’s intentions to meet with the larger university community, including faculty, staff and students. While it is appreciated that student leaders would speak for us on our behalf, we also deserve the opportunity to speak for ourselves. I hope that in the near future President-designate Gallogly will announce plans to engage with a larger audience and include more students than just specific student leaders in his conversations about our university.
I do, of course, commend our student leaders for being proactive and gathering agenda items for our new president as he begins his time in office this summer. However, being proactive and engaged must go both ways. Those of us who are not student leaders also need the opportunity to hear from President-designate Gallogly, and I hope that he will actively work toward engaging directly with those whose voices were excluded soon after he officially enters office. As an inclusive public institution, such engagement is vital.
Hannah Grillot is a dramaturgy and international development junior at OU and a guest columnist for The Daily.
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