OU Touts New Degree Program, Executive Hires and Increased Research Opportunities

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents today recognized OU’s significant progress in several strategic areas. OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. addressed the board at the National Weather Center, updating them on record-breaking achievements, executive hires, a new academic offering and enhanced programs.

“We are thrilled to celebrate so many recent successes at the University of Oklahoma,” said Harroz. “We’re seeing a great deal of momentum in areas like enrollment, research, academic achievements and diversity and inclusion. As a University community we are moving forward, making strides to build upon the important progress we’ve made to date. So much of what we have been able to accomplish is thanks to our committed partners in the Oklahoma state leadership and, of course, to our faculty, staff, students and alumni.”

Total sponsored awards for research is up 15% from the previous year, resulting in a $36 million increase, with concentrations in the areas of education, radar and geostationary carbon observatory (GeoCarb).

OU’s research growth is set to continue, Harroz said, when announcing the hiring of Tomás Díaz de la Rubia will serve as vice president for research and partnerships, beginning in October. Díaz de la Rubia is currently chief scientific officer and vice president for strategic initiatives at Purdue University and will bring with him a range of experience in public, private and university research environments.

The record-breaking Class of 2023 joins OU at a time when the University is placing a strong emphasis on improving overall diversity and inclusion efforts. The incoming freshman class, made up of 4,523 students, also qualifies as one of the University’s most diverse, with 34.6% identifying as minority students. As part of his report, Harroz detailed the steps OU has taken in recent months to create a truly inclusive and welcoming community, including the adoption of a multiphase plan that outlines desired outcomes intended to improve the campus experience for students, faculty and staff. In addition, the Office of University Community was renamed the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Best practices for gift procedures, naming spaces on campus and strategic restructuring are programs housed in the Office of University Advancement, formally known as the Office of Development.

In honor of the retired director of the Sam Noble Museum, and to celebrate his many years of service, Harroz recommended the park at the northwest corner of the museum’s property be named the Michael Mares Park.

The board approved a new degree offering: the Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Human Relations. The department added a specialty to its master’s degree to help students meet state of Oklahoma licensing requirements.

Harroz also outlined plans for a strategic framework designed to more closely align the University’s goals with its mission. The framework is slated to roll out in spring of 2020.

The next meeting for the OU Board of Regents is scheduled for Oct. 22-23.

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