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OU Board of Regents approves new Title IX coordinator, expansions to National Weather Center, athletics facilities

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The OU Board of Regents and OU President Joseph Harroz (center) meet on Dec. 2, 2021.

The OU Board of Regents appointed a new Title IX coordinator, approved project plans for the Physical Science Center, Native Nation Center and National Weather Center, and approved pay for interim football head coach Bob Stoops in its Thursday meeting.

The approved plan for the athletics facilities includes $16 million in updates in Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium, Owen Field, Headington Tennis Center and the John Jacobs track. 

Regents also approved a $6 to $10 million renovation for the Physical Science Center to refurbish laboratories, replace air handling systems, replace the roof and replace failed structural glass components.

Regent Anita Holloway said OU has confirmed bond issuance with a “sub three percent” interest rate for the university’s acquisition of the Cross Village housing complex. The complex was criticized by its residents as promised amenities opened later than expected in 2018. Occupancy rates remained low, with rooms barred to freshmen. Experts said OU’s decision not to extend Cross’s parking and commercial leases under the complex’s previous management, Provident, Inc., was not expected to significantly affect its bond rating.

The complex opened this year to first-year students as plans for Adams, Couch and Walker towers to be demolished in the coming years continue. Adams is currently unoccupied. The Cross transaction is expected to be closed by next week, Holloway said.

A $325,000 payment was approved for interim football head coach Bob Stoops, but OU President Joseph Harroz said Stoops attempted to decline the payment multiple times.

“(Stoops) always does the right thing and … steps up,” Harroz said. “I didn’t take his ‘no’ seriously the first or second time.”

OU has seen increased fundraising success after consolidating all university fundraising into the private OU foundation, Harroz said.

“If you go back and look at the past 10 years of fundraising in all areas of the university … that average number is $110 million a year. We restructured, there’s a whole story about how we did a search for a head of development, we couldn’t attract anyone because it wasn’t structured correctly,” Harroz said. “By restructuring, we were able to attract that pool (of candidates), (current Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer) Amy Noah was the result of that.”

In the last year, the university raised $230 million with an additional $10 million in guaranteed future gifts, Harroz said.

An expansion of the Native Nations Center was approved. According to the agenda, the expansion will add 30,000 to 35,000 square feet for faculty and staff office spaces, meeting areas, classrooms, a small library, exhibit space and a space to honor Oklahoma’s 39 federally-recognized sovereign nations.

The regents also approved an expansion for the National Weather Center, adding a total of 75,600 square feet to include laboratories, work areas, office space and support space to meet the “growing needs” of university and government programs, according to the agenda.

Regents appointed Christine Taylor as OU’s institutional equity officer, equal opportunity officer and Title IX coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity, following the resignation of the former Title IX coordinator Shaniqua Crawford Nov. 3. Taylor formerly served as the institutional equity and compliance director at Wichita State University for four years. Taylor will receive an annualized rate of $187,000 beginning on Dec. 6, according to the agenda.

A posthumous degree was awarded to John Gabriel Erickson, who attended OU as an accounting student. Erickson died in October this year. 

The regents will meet on Friday in executive session. The next meeting is scheduled for March 8-9, 2022.

Alexia Aston contributed to this report.

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