The University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents approved a strategic plan that will guide the institution through the next decade during its Tuesday meeting.
At the end of two days of executive session meetings, the regents convened Tuesday afternoon to quickly approve the strategic plan, authorize the university to follow federal Title IX guidelines and vote to add a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course to OU's general education requirements.
The strategic plan’s approval comes about a year after the regents tasked OU President Joe Harroz and his administration with creating a vision for the university’s academic and financial future.
The university released some details of the plan Tuesday, noting that the purpose for the university under the plan is “we change lives." The five pillars the university will focus on to achieve that purpose include:
- “Become a top-tier public research university"
- “Prepare students for a life of success, meaning, service and positive impact”
- “Make OU’s excellence affordable and attainable"
- “Become a place of belonging and emotional growth for all students, faculty, staff and alumni”
- "Enrich and positively impact Oklahoma, the nation and the world through research and creative activity"
Harroz said Tuesday that he’s grateful for the administrators and community members who have worked on the plan and offered their feedback throughout the last year.
"This is a truly exciting moment," Harroz said. "This is one that has us look toward the future, when we ask the question, ‘What is our future, what do we hope to be, what do we aspire to be, and how do we accomplish it?’”
The plan comes as OU, like universities across the nation, faces an unprecedented semester. University administrators have chosen to focus on returning to a mostly in-person semester of academic and campus life.
OU released the third phase of its plan for returning to campus late last week, announcing that more employees will start coming back to campus on Aug. 3.
Community members have continually asked the university for more options for faculty and staff to teach and work remotely as Oklahoma continues to report record high new COVID-19 case numbers. The OU Daily reported last week that the university has approved 97% of instructor and teaching assistant requests for accommodations this fall.
Gary Pierson, chair of the board, asked Tuesday that the OU community meet the fall with a specific attitude.
“I ask that you do three things: Be flexible … be understanding of the situation beyond just yourself, and last I really, sincerely on behalf of the entire board, ask that you be respectful of our faculty and our staff — this is affecting them just as it’s affecting everybody else, and it’s hard on all of us,” Pierson said.
The regents also approved Harroz to develop and approve revisions to OU’s Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy to take effect by Aug. 14.
The revisions will put OU in compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s new rule on Title IX regulations. Among other things, the rule requires universities to hold live hearings that will allow cross examination of all parties in a sexual misconduct case.
The regents also approved the addition of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course to OU’s general education requirements.
The three-hour course will be available in fall 2021, and comes after OU’s Black Emergency Response Team asked in February that OU transform its existing one-time student diversity experience into a semester-long class.