The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education held their first virtual meeting via Zoom conference this morning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the 11-minute meeting went on as normal, there were hopes that the group’s first virtual meeting will be its last.
“We live in extraordinary times,” Co-chairman Joseph Parker said in his opening remarks. “This is, I believe, the very first such meeting held by the State Regents, and I hope it will be the last because I think it is preferable for us to be in community with one another when we conduct these meetings.”
The only regent not present for the meeting was assistant secretary Mike Turpen.
Chancellor Glen Johnson said the regents are in the process of advising Oklahoma colleges and universities on regent policy guidelines and resources in relation to COVID-19.
College students adjust to online classes amid pandemic by Archiebald Browne
“We’re addressing issues on our policy as our campuses are transitioning to the online format,” Johnson said. “Everything that goes with that from grading, guidance, concurrent enrollment and a number of other related issues.”
The regents’ staff members have been working to provide coordination to the 27-institution and 49-campus higher education system. Staff have been involving the presidents of all public colleges and universities, and regents have held two to three conference calls a week, Johnson said.
Virtual meetings for Oklahoma public bodies were authorized until Nov. 15 — or the end of the COVID-19 state emergency declaration, whichever comes first — by the Legislature’s passage of SB 661 on Tuesday, March 17. There were no video capabilities in Wednesday’s meeting, but if the regents have to hold a virtual meeting again, that might change.
“We do plan to hold our April 22 to 23 State Regents meeting. If we need to hold it remotely due to COVID-19, we will be working with each of the regents to make sure that the regents have access to video conferencing capabilities,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the regents are working with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, his team and their statewide efforts to combat COVID-19.
The regent’s agenda had four items up for approval, which all passed without discussion.