NORMAN, OKLA. – The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents met today to approve enhancements to employee benefits, new academic appointments, degree program modifications, the formation of a search committee and other items.
During the meeting, held on the Norman campus, the Regents approved enhancements to the university’s extended sick leave benefit for benefits-eligible employees. The change will allow employees to use extended sick leave to care for an immediate family member for any event that qualifies for family medical leave. The new benefit goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024.
In his remarks, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. noted that employee benefits must remain competitive and attractive in order for the university to continue to achieve excellence.
“We are pleased to announce a significant enhancement to our university’s benefits program,” Harroz said. “This change underscores our commitment to the well-being of our university community, providing crucial support for our employees as they navigate the responsibilities of both work and family. It reflects our dedication to creating an inclusive and supportive environment, where individuals can thrive both personally and professionally.”
Also during the meeting, the board approved several academic program modifications aimed at addressing workforce needs across the state, including the addition of a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Offered in a hybrid delivery mode, the new degree program adds to the suite of more than 40 graduate degrees offered through OU Online, while helping graduates prepare for the growing need for novel ideas and business models in today’s global economy.
The Regents also approved two new additions to the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: an option in construction management and an option in learning and education studies. These new majors are designed to support OU’s Degree Completion Program, which offers flexible workforce-relevant online undergraduate degree programs designed to help adult learners achieve their educational and career goals. Launched for the fall 2023 semester, the Degree Completion Program has begun with great momentum, with 133 new students having enrolled for its inaugural semester. Of these new students, nearly two-thirds were students who began college at OU and have now returned to complete their degrees. In addition, OU has hired five new faculty in the College of Professional and Continuing Studies to specifically support the program. Both new major additions will connect to career fields with strong demands in the workforce, including Oklahoma’s top 100 critical occupations.
The board also approved a new undergraduate certificate in renewable energy management and a new graduate certificate in aerospace and defense analytics, both of which are designed to strengthen Oklahoma’s workforce in two key economic sectors.
“One of the most important responsibilities of our university is to ensure that our state and its people can continue to thrive,” Harroz said. “We are excited to offer these new programs that will help our university develop a workforce reflecting some of our state’s most pressing needs.”
All of the proposed degree offerings will now go before the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
The Regents also approved new academic appointments, including Ian F. Dunn, M.D., FACS, FAANS, as executive dean of the OU College of Medicine.
Dunn joined the OU College of Medicine in 2018, where he has served as professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and held the Harry Wilkins, M.D. Chair in Neurosurgery. Dunn is also part of the OU Health executive leadership team, serving as chief physician executive since October 2021, as well as president of OU Health Partners and vice chair of the OU Health Partners Board of Directors. He has also served as senior associate dean of clinical affairs at the College of Medicine.
As executive dean, Dunn will also provide leadership at the university’s health care partner, OU Health, as its inaugural chief academic officer, ensuring the integration of the university’s academic and research missions with the clinical mission of the health system.
“Dr. Ian Dunn has been vital to the continued success of OU Health Sciences and our progress toward becoming a world-class, research-driven academic health center,” Harroz said. “We look forward to seeing him lead our College of Medicine and are excited to see the many ways in which he will continue to positively impact our community and the health care of countless Oklahomans.”
Also approved was the appointment of Kelvin White as interim dean of the OU Honors College and the formation of a search committee to fill the position of dean of the OU College of Law.
The board is set to next meet in January.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit ou.edu.