Agenda could let OU Regents hire new President at special meeting Thursday night

Wylie FOI No News.jpg

Agenda could let OU Regents hire new President at special meeting Thursday night

Despite many calls for a transparent, inclusive search for a new University of Oklahoma president, the agenda for a special meeting Thursday night would apparently allow a permanent hiring at that meeting.

The agenda for the 8:15 p.m. meeting reads, “Discussion and consideration of, and/or the designation or appointment to, the position of President of the University of Oklahoma. Such action may be made on an acting or interim basis, or process may be set forth regarding a permanent selection. Provided, however, nothing in this item shall limit the Board from exercising its selection authority under Section 1.4 of the Board of Regents Policy Manual. An Executive Session may be entered into pursuant to 25 OS 307(B)(1).”

The statutory citation is to the section of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act which allows among other things, “Discussing the employment, hiring, [or] appointment…of any individual salaried public officer or employee.”

The policy manual section cited, which deals with procedures for naming the president and other top officers, uses the word “selection” only in the introduction, although other portions discuss recommendations for procedures to be followed including use of search committees.

However, the opening section reads, “The selection of the President and other administrators is the responsibility of the Board of Regents, and any process leading to that selection is the prerogative of the particular Board in office at the time the selection process is to be is understood that the President and the Board of Regents be guided by them in most instances, but it is understood that the President and the Board of Regents shall not be bound by nor limited to nominations and recommendations of administrative search committees.”

Regents Chair Dr. Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes was asked by email at 8:45 p.m. if she could clarify the intent of the agenda item.

“Is the agenda wording precautionary, or is the appointment of a permanent president—which the agenda would appear designed to allow—a serious possibility for Thursday evening’s special meeting?” the inquiry asked.

No response had been received when this was written at 10:30 p.m., but this column will be updated to include any information she provides.

The Oklahoman reported that a contract with the search firm which handled the process leading to President James Gallogly’s hiring on March 26, 2018 and taking office at the start of the fiscal year July 1 called for it to conduct a replacement search if the original candidate leaves within 12 months of taking office. The search must begin immediately according to the contract, the story added.

Gallogly announced his planned departure Sunday and said it would be effective when a plan is in place to select his successor.

However, the agenda makes no mention of any discussion or action involving that contract.