David, Molly Shi Boren to be honored

OU President David Boren speaks during the OU Board of Regents meeting, Dec. 12, 2017. Molly Shi and President David Boren will be receiving this year’s Sam Matthews Social Justice Award from the Xenia Institute at a reception 6:30 p.m. March 12 in the Molly Shi Boren Ballroom in the Oklahoma Memorial Student Union on OU’s campus.

Former president David Boren has resigned from the position he still held with the University of Oklahoma, bringing the personnel investigation involving him to an end.

This effectively ends any university involvement with the personnel investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against Boren, according to a release by the OU Board of Regents. Boren retired from the presidency in June of last year, but remained on campus to teach and was given an office under a Presidential Transition Agreement.

He took a sabbatical for the spring semester, citing health reasons. That decision came after OU had hired the Jones Day law firm to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct in response to a Title IX complaint made in November of last year.

“We have worked very hard to bring to a close the Title IX issue between David Boren and the University of Oklahoma while respecting individuals who desire to maintain their privacy,” Board of Regents Chair Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes said. “David Boren no longer has any relationship going forward with the University as a result of his resignation.”

An OSBI investigation into the allegations is still ongoing. That case is being handled by special counsel and has reached grand jury proceedings, which will be held June 18.

In April, Jones Day provided a report to the Board of Regents following their months-long investigation into the allegations. At that time, Rainbolt-Forbes said the board was satisfied by the process and would take appropriate action at the right time.

Now that Boren has resigned, the university and Board of Regents are no longer involved.

“The decision to accept his resignation terminates the Presidential Transition Agreement and brings this matter to a close,” Rainbolt-Forbes said. “The University will now focus its energy and resources on strategic initiatives important to our community. We are mindful of the OSBI investigation and will be watchful as to the determination of the grand jury.”

Up until this point, neither the board nor the university has acknowledged who the personnel investigation conducted by Jones Day involved. Various media reported Boren was at the center of it in January.

Then in March, former student and employee Jess Eddy told various Oklahoma media sources that Boren had acted inappropriately with him while he was working for him as a teaching assistant. A current employee, Levi Hilliard, also accused former vice president James “Tripp” Hall of sexual misconduct.

Eddy said on Wednesday that Boren’s resignation was “an important step.” Both he and Hilliard have called on the Board of Regents to investigate university Title IX Office policies and procedures of reporting and handling allegations of sexual misconduct.

“This is an important step toward healing at the university, and the next steps include learning how this abuse was able to happen and how to prevent it from happening again,” Eddy said. “I look forward to an era of accountability at OU.”

The Presidential Transition Agreement included several items that kept Boren connected to the university when it was approved by the regents in April. In addition to teaching a political science class, it entitled Boren to an office on campus in the Beaird Lounge of the Oklahoma Memorial Union, an assistant and a parking space.

It also gave Boren four tickets to each OU home football game for five years that included lounge access. Boren will lose all of that as a result of the resignation, which was reportedly delivered in a two-page letter.

Boren also has a statue on campus that sits outside the Oklahoma Memorial Union, and there is also the David L. Boren College of International Studies. Lauren Brookey, vice president for marketing and communications, said no action will be taken on the statue or things named in Boren’s honor, though that could change.

“The Board of Regents have no immediate plans to change any likenesses or naming on campus,” Brookey said. “That would be revisited in the event of an OSBI or grand jury outcome.”