The OU Board of Regents will consider increasing residential housing prices, formalizing changes in general education requirements to include a First-Year Experience diversity class and appointing new university leadership during its 2:30 p.m meeting Thursday.
According to the meeting agenda, housing rates for residence halls, Traditions and Kratettli apartments will increase by three percent, resulting in changes like $3,285 to $3,384 for a double room in the towers. Residential college and Headington Hall prices will increase by six percent — a change mirrored in the transition from $5,850 to $6,201 for a two-bed, two-bath single room in Headington Hall.
Meal plan prices will also increase almost four percent to offset additional costs incurred by bringing students in “earlier than normal” Aug. 13 to 20 to participate in Camp Crimson. Standard meal plans would cost $2,466.
The proposed housing rates for Cross Village — which OU will soon acquire outright after a legal dispute with Provide Oklahoma Education Resources, Inc. — were listed as $4,800 for a four-bed, two-bath space, $5,500 for a two-bed, one-bath and $7,100 for a single suite. Starting next fall, freshmen will be permitted to live in Cross to offset beds lost as Adams Center is vacated ahead of its planned demolition.
The towers will be replaced with new housing options constructed as part of OU’s “freshman housing master plan.”
OU President Joseph Harroz recommended in the agenda the regents authorize him or his designee to negotiate and execute all necessary documents subject to legal counsel review regarding the resolving, addressing and settling of matters related to Cross.
The settlement agreement included in the agenda states that Sovereign Properties Holdco LLC, a designee of the Chickasaw Nation, will pay the project bondholder trustee $180 million in full satisfaction of outstanding bonds and Provident will transfer Cross’s ground lease to Sovereign Holdco while releasing all claims asserted against the university “with prejudice.” The parties will further agree to mutual releases, cooperation and non-disparagement clauses, and covenants not to sue, reaching final settlement no later than June 15.
According to the agenda, the university will purchase Cross from Sovereign Holdco once it receives sufficient funds by issuing bonds or through other means. Sovereign Holdco agreed to sell this right to the university for $180 million and, according to the agenda, the university intends to fund the purchase price from bond proceeds.
The regents will also vote on the proposed First-Year Experience in the university’s general education requirements to align with the second and fourth pillars of its “Lead On, University” strategic plan.
The Core V requirement will allow university administration to provide additional course options beyond the Gateway to Belonging course to address “critical thinking, cultural fluency, civil discourse, citizenship and community engagement” during students’ first year at OU, according to the agenda.
Harroz said the university is working on a suite of three-hour, First-Year Experience classes, including Gateway to Belonging, Global Perspectives and Engagement, and Ethical Leadership Development. The Gateway to Belonging class was originally a standalone course requirement, but the university restructured the course after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed HB1775 into law May 7, preventing state schools from including critical race theory concepts in required coursework.
The regents will vote to approve the appointment of Adrienne Carter-Sowell, the associate head of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Texas A&M University, as the Gateway to Belonging course director.
According to the agenda, Carter-Sowell is set to receive an annualized rate of $175,000 for 12 months, beginning July 1.
The regents will also vote to give OU professor emeritus and civil rights activist George Henderson the title of senior advisor for the course. Henderson will receive an annualized rate of $147,000 for 12 months, which began May 1.
The official appointment of Senior Vice President and Provost André-Denis Wright, the current dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University, will also be voted on Thursday
Wright is slated to receive $445,000 at an annualized rate for 12 months, beginning June 1. Current Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Jill Irvine received an annualized rate of $232,760 with a stipend of $57,796, and former Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper received an annualized rate of $329,086.
The university also submitted recommendations to appoint Katheleen Guzman, the current interim College of Law Dean, as Dean of the College of Law and Stacy Reeder, the current interim College of Education Dean, as Dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.
Guzman will transition from an annualized rate of $308,533, including an interim stipend, for nine months to an annualized rate of $340,000 for 12 months, beginning June 1. Reeder’s salary changed from an annualized rate of $140,863 for 12 months to an annualized rate of $283,000 for 12 months, which began May 1.
The agenda also included a Student Affairs master plan in its capital improvement projects section. The master plan consists of an estimated $10 million project to provide space in the Oklahoma Memorial Union, Henderson Tolson Cultural Center, Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, Copeland Hall and other places across campus so students can “socialize, study, work, belong, connect and enhance their academic experiences.”