OU strategic framework
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents discusses the developing OU strategic framework during a committee meeting inside the Fred Jones, Jr. Art Museum on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (Archiebald Browne)

As the fall semester comes to a close, interim University of Oklahoma President Joe Harroz has homework for winter break: completing the first draft of an OU strategic framework intended to guide university goals and decisions for years to come.

“The key word is ‘actionable,'” Harroz said Monday afternoon during an OU Board of Regents committee discussion. “Making it actionable is what has been in my head over the weekend.”

The OU Board of Regents has asked Harroz, Provost Kyle Harper and other senior administrators to deliver their first draft of a new OU strategic framework by early February. Harroz and Harper are embarking on a series of five “town hall” sessions across OU’s campuses, beginning Wednesday in Norman.

“As we construct this plan, it cannot be business as usual. It has to be a fresh, very honest, very clear look at what has been disruptive, where are we, what we aspire to be and, importantly, how do we develop the resources to support those lofty goals that we have,” Harroz told regents. “We have to be honest about the environment that is out there. The same is true for the Health Sciences Center campus and certainly our Tulsa campus. And our virtual campus. A huge part of this is where we want to be in the digital space, and the answer can’t be that we are not.”

OU strategic framework
OU Board of Regents Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, left, speaks with interim OU President Joe Harroz, right, during a meeting Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Norman. (Ben White)

‘An institution that has had no strategic plan for a generation’

Harroz referenced regents’ previous discussion on developing the OU strategic framework that occurred during an unusual Oct. 22 lunch meeting.

“I very much appreciated at the last meeting the cold, honest water that was thrown on it,” Harroz said.

OU Board of Regents Chairman-elect Gary Pierson chimed in.

“Well, you’re about to hear it again, Joe,” Pierson said. “Are you comfortable where you are right now (in the process)?”

Harroz affirmed, calling the process “a grind, and we are in the middle of it.”

Harper, the OU provost, agreed.

“We have been working very hard for several months now to talk through ideas, talk through data and meet with stakeholders,” Harper said.

Harper said the OU strategic framework has been “challenging” but “helpful.”

“We are starting from so little as an institution that has had no strategic plan for a generation,” Harper said. “We are starting from a place of really basic questions about what kind of institution we want to be.”

Regents have previously discussed the university’s lack of a comprehensive, long-term strategic vision. After Harper’s remarks, Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes noted that the situation presents more than just obstacles.

“It is an opportunity at the same time,” Rainbolt-Forbes said.

The OU Board of Regents spent more than three hours total in executive session Monday. The full December meeting agenda can be viewed here, and Monday’s slate of committee meetings are listed here.