The University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents will look to approve OU’s strategic plan, authorize a sabbatical with full pay for the university's former provost and allow the university to comply with new federal Title IX rules at a meeting next week.
The board will meet the mornings of July 27 and 28 in executive session on OU’s Norman campus, then will convene in a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. July 28 in Headington Hall. The regents cannot take action during the executive sessions, but can vote during the Tuesday afternoon meeting.
Among Tuesday’s actionable agenda items, the board will vote on OU’s strategic plan, a multi-year framework that administrators say will guide the university’s financial and academic future.
While the regents heard the plan in draft form in March and administrators held public town halls to discuss the plan in the spring, the final details of the strategic plan have not been released to the public. The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting does not include any further details of the plan.
The board will also vote on a list of personnel items that includes a year-long sabbatical with full pay for Kyle Harper, OU’s former provost and senior vice president.
While Harper stepped down from the provost role effective July 1, he will now hold the titles of professor of Classics and Letters, senior advisor to the president and provost emeritus, and will continue receiving his $329,086 annual salary during his sabbatical if approved. When his sabbatical leave of absence is up at the end of June 2021, Harper will be making $274,238 annually.
The personnel items also include a salary for Jill Irvine, who is currently serving as interim provost and senior vice president. If approved Tuesday, Irvine will receive her regular $232,760 annual salary with a $57,796 stipend for serving in the interim position.
The regents are also set to authorize OU President Joe Harroz to develop and approve revisions to OU’s Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy to take effect by Aug. 14.
The revisions would put OU in compliance with new regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, which issued a final rule on campus Title IX regulations in May 2020. Universities that receive federal funding must be in compliance with the rule by Aug. 14.
According to the board’s agenda, the Department of Education’s new rule creates a new definition for sexual harassment, specific procedural requirements for grievances and a distinction between formal complaints and other reports. Inside Higher Ed reports that the new rule sets a higher burden of proof for those reporting sexual misconduct, and requires universities to hold live hearings that will allow cross examination of all parties in a sexual misconduct case.
The board agenda item notes that a working group of university employees from human resources, legal counsel, Student Affairs, the Institutional Equity Office and more OU departments has been working to review and implement the Department of Education’s rule.
The regents will vote on an agenda item that would officially add a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course to OU’s general education requirements. The three-hour course would be available in fall 2021.
The course was one of multiple demands issued by OU’s Black Emergency Response Team at the start of a multi-day sit-in and hunger strike in February, during which BERT asked that OU transform its existing one-time student diversity experience into a semester-long class.
The board is also set to approve an increase in OU’s Norman campus student activity fee, which would go up from $5.15 to $7.45 per credit hour in 2022. The university is asking the board to approve a 0.5% increase in the fee annually after 2022, meaning that the fee would gradually increase from $7.45 per credit hour to $7.83 by fall 2031.
Before Tuesday’s actionable meeting, the board will meet in executive session at 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday mornings, respectively.
While the board always gives a lengthy list of legal reasons that members could convene in executive session, Monday and Tuesday’s executive session agendas also include a list of people who will be in the session.
The agendas for both days show that coaches and assistant coaches across university sports, from OU football head coach Lincoln Riley to OU softball head coach Patty Gasso, will in the executive sessions meetings alongside university administrators. Executive sessions can legally be used for personnel employment discussions.
The agenda for Tuesday’s action meeting specifies that all of the coaches and athletic personnel sitting in on the executive sessions are up for a “review of compensation and contract of employment, compensation and contract of employment, and...any necessary adjustments."
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