OU’s Interim President Joe Harroz outlined the beginnings of a plan for the university’s future at Monday’s Board of Regents meeting, walking the regents through university priorities and concerns as a deadline for the plan’s first draft draws nearer.
In its final meeting of 2019, the board convened at the Fred Jones Museum of Art on OU’s Norman campus from about 8:30 a.m. till just after 5 p.m. The official meeting, during which the board could take action and vote, did not begin until slightly after 4 p.m.
The regents spent most of the day in committee meetings, hearing updates from Cameron and Rogers State universities, as well as the Norman and Health Sciences Center OU campuses. The day started with a two-hour executive session that began 30 minutes late as the regents waited on several members to arrive.
The post-lunch committee meeting, during which Interim OU President Joe Harroz spoke to the regents, sparked significant discussion around the university’s strategic framework, a multi-tiered plan that will govern the university’s goals and priorities for the foreseeable future.
“The status quo is no place to be — you can’t be static in this current environment,” Harroz told the regents, noting that the university will be considering advances in technology, shifting education demographics and changing university funding and tuition as leadership plans for the future.
The strategic framework, as Harroz presented it Monday, centers around several key questions that OU leadership is considering moving forward, including “What do we aspire to be?,” “What are our goals?,” Where do we compete?” and “How do we succeed?” Harroz, Provost Kyle Harper and a team called the President’s Academic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee are assembling the framework, which they’ll present to the regents in draft form in February 2020.
The regents pushed Harroz and Harper Monday, asking them to create an actionable plan with tangible results. Regent Gary Pierson told the strategic framework’s creators to take “time to think,” counseling Harroz and Harper not to become too attached to their initial draft of the framework while pushing to ensure that the draft will be finished in the next two months.
“This, to me, is what you want in a board, is one that pushes back,” Harroz said after the meeting. “...We have some people here on this board that have done a lot of these strategic plans, and as Provost Harper indicated, it’s not a muscle we’ve really exercised for a really long time. And so, I love it, and it’s way more energizing than I ever thought.”
The university will begin hosting a series of town halls to hear community thoughts and ideas on the framework. The first will be on the Norman campus at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Meacham Auditorium.
Several hours after the strategic framework update — which ran over time due to discussion — Harroz again sat in front of the regents, highlighting recent awards and accomplishments at OU. Harroz and the regents recognized OU senior Leanne Ho, who received a Rhodes Scholarship late last month.
“I love, at the individual level, to hear that story, and to know that among the 32 (Rhodes Scholars) in the entire country, OU has one, and this is our 30th Rhodes Scholar,” Harroz said. “I love that aspect of it.”
The regents also approved funding for several new weather radar systems, authorized the university to approved funding for upcoming bowl games and voted to allow the Health Sciences Center to create an electronic health record system, which will unite OU health institutions in an integrated records system. The board approved a search committee for the director of the Sam Noble Museum, and instituted price hikes in parking fees at the Health Sciences Center campus.
While the committee meetings took several hours, the regents went through official business quickly after 4 p.m. — updates and agenda items for Cameron and Rogers State universities took just three minutes each.
The board took a 45-minute executive session during the OU portion of the final meeting and quickly approved personnel items upon emerging.
The regents’ 2020 meeting schedule is not yet set.
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