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OU Board of Regents to approve budget, OU Health merger, receive over $45 million donation

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Members Gary Pierson, Joseph Harroz and Frank Keating of the OU Board of Regents on March 5.

The OU Board of Regents will meet Tuesday in Oklahoma City to approve tuition increases, negotiate the final terms of the OU Health merger and receive an over $45 million donation. 

In the meeting, the regents will move to approve the FY22 operating budget for OU’s three campuses, which totals $2.01 billion, according to the agenda, which was released Monday. The budget includes allocations of $1.04 billion for the Norman campus — including $10.6 million for Norman programs at OU-Tulsa, $24.9 million for the College of Law and $2.9 million for the Oklahoma Geological Survey — and $969 million for the Health Sciences Center. 

OU President Joseph Harroz recommends the regents approve a proposed tuition increase of 2.75 percent, resulting in changes from $4,531.25 to $4,655.70 for 15 credit hour resident flat tuition rates and $12,221.75 to $12,557.70 for 15 credit hour nonresident flat tuition rates. Proposed graduate tuition rates also will change, with an increase of $289.30 to $334.75 per credit hour for resident tuition and $610.80 to $627.60 per credit hour for nonresident tuition. 

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have the authorization to establish resident and nonresident tuition rates with mandatory fees, and they must take action to ensure “affordability and access” through student aid when establishing tuition rates, according to the agenda. 

The Stage Regents further called for the OU Board of Regents to establish tuition and mandatory fees for OU Online, the university’s online graduate program, on a per-credit-hour basis. The current payment plan is set as an “all-in academic service fee,” according to the agenda. 

The proposed structure would incorporate two fees, including online program and tuition and mandatory fees. The all-in proposed costs are $818.18 for Strategic Communication and Digital Strategy, $985 for Industrial Systems Engineering, $818.18 for Art and Technology, $700 for Counseling and $2,025 for an Executive Master’s Degree of Business Administration in Renewable Energy. 

OU Online is predicted to make $11 million during the 2021-22 academic year, according to the agenda. The budget added $2 million in marketing for the program and a $2.5 million profit share with its marketing partner. 

The regents will also seek to negotiate the final terms and execute definitive transaction agreements regarding the merger of OU Physicians with the nonprofit OU Medicine to create the nonprofit, OU Health

OU Health will serve as a premier health and academic system, delivering “high-quality multidisciplinary care, education focused on the needs of our state and funded research.” 

“(The) goals of OU Health include patient-centered care, exceptional safety and quality, a statewide network, expanding Oklahoma’s health workforce and growing research across adult and pediatric specialties through disease-focused centers of excellence,” the agenda reads. “OU Health will increase mission support funding to OUHSC for research and education strategic initiatives, including the goal to achieve Top 100 in NIH funding within three years and to approach the Top 50 over ten years.” 

All faculty physicians employed by OU Health Partners Inc. — a nonprofit that will support the university in its health research — in part or full-time faculty appointments from the OU College of Medicine will also be employed by the university for their non-clinical time, according to the agenda. 

An offer of employment with an established work plan from OU Health Partners Inc. and OU will become effective Jan. 1, 2022. Each physician will have a separate employment arrangement with OU relating to their faculty appointment duties and obligations, according to the agenda. 

The OU Health Sciences Center will transfer its clinical assets, operations and faculty practice to OU Health. OU Health will exclusively contract with and use the university for all academic activities that are “the same or similar” to the OUHSC Health Professions Colleges

OU and OU Health will also develop five-year academic strategic plans through the Academic Health System Council. The plans, according to the agenda, will encourage training program initiatives, clinical and translational research priorities, capital expenditure planning and performance goals and measures. The development of these plans will begin July 1. 

OUHSC will face proposed budgetary changes amid this merger, including a decrease in benefits from the original FY21 to the proposed FY22 budget. Faculty benefits transitioned from $169,187 to $101,381, from $284,270 to $235,208 in Paycheck Protection Program benefits and from $73,923 to $61,924 in staff benefits. 

According to the information-only agenda item, the OU Foundation will receive an over $45 million donation from OU alumni Earl and Fran Ziegler after Earl, a petroleum engineering major from 1952, left his entire estate to the Ziegler Foundation with the directive that his charitable namesake be dissolved and its assets transferred upon his death in December 2020. 

The Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing on the OUHSC campus will receive $21 million, and the Stephenson Cancer Center will receive $14 million to support cancer research. OU undergraduate students will also receive opportunities for scholarships and fellowships in petroleum engineering, and the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History will receive an operational endowment. 

The OU Board of Regents will meet for an executive session at 8 a.m. and a general meeting at noon tomorrow in the Robert M. Library of the OU Health and Sciences Center. During the board’s executive session, the regents will hear updates on university-related cases. 

Some of the cases included are Provident Oklahoma Education Resources Inc. v. University, involving litigation surrounding Cross Village, and Grillot v. University et. al, with the former dean of the College of International Studies Suzette Grillot suing the university for wage discrimination. 

The regents will also discuss The Sustainable Journalism Foundation et al. v. University that addresses NonDoc’s lawsuit against OU for not releasing a $1 million report from international law firm Jones Day. The report investigated misreported donor data and allegations of sexual misconduct against former OU President David Boren. 

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