After three presidents in three years, a million-dollar investigation behind closed doors and criticisms over transparency, OU’s Board of Regents has decided to ask for help.
In August, the board issued a request-for-proposals to assemble a report of best practices for university governance across the nation, with implications of those findings for OU. In October, the board tried a new open discussion strategy with public committee meetings. But in between meetings, the way the board selected a new chair may have violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, according to Freedom of Information Oklahoma — which also gave the board the 2019 “Black Hole Award” for its lack of transparency.
Compared to boards at two institutions similar to OU, the University of Kansas and Indiana University Bloomington, OU’s board lacks community representation, staffing support and student perspective.
Those who don’t have a seat at the table feel the lack of representation. Student Government Association President Adran Gibbs said SGA and other community stakeholders have been pushing for more input for a while, at least to get a nonvoting student on the board, but have not been successful.
“We don’t have a lot of input at the Board of Regents level, besides the public meetings that they hold a couple times a semester, but you don’t have speaking privileges — no one does at the … meetings,” Gibbs said. “(A nonvoting student regent is) not something that’s been accepted at all, especially by the Board of Regents or anyone higher up in the decision-making process.”
Read more about how OU's Board of Regents compares to other universities here.