During the meeting, held on the Norman campus, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. provided brief remarks, noting the remarkable successes the university has enjoyed because of the path set forward by the Lead On, University Strategic Plan and how OU’s excellence can advance the needs of our state as a whole. Though not on the May agenda, Harroz used the occasion to speak to the university’s plans for its Tulsa campus.
“At OU, we have many obligations to the state and to Oklahomans, and there is none more pressing than our duty to act as an economic engine, graduating a highly skilled workforce to support our state’s future,” he said. “With Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma building a technology-advanced economy, the opportunity to align our educational and research capabilities with the workforce needs and opportunities of the region’s growing and dynamic economy has never been greater.”
As a solution to the increasing demand for credentialed workers in critical STEM fields, Harroz announced the university intends to launch the OU Polytechnic Institute, a new school in Tulsa with bachelor’s completion and graduate degree programs focused on innovation and advanced technology. Pending approval by the OU Board of Regents and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the school will offer innovative programs to fill vital, high-paying jobs in areas like telehealth, autonomous technology, electric vehicles, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and software engineering. The institute is slated to go on a future OU Board of Regents’ meeting agenda.
“The OU Polytechnic Institute will rank as one of the most ambitious and game-changing investments ever made in Tulsa,” Harroz said. “The school’s cutting-edge curriculum – developed with industry partners – will focus on advanced applied technologies, quickly making the region a hub for growth and new jobs.”
Harroz said the idea for the institute came out of extensive conversations with state leaders. The common vision, he said, will help advance Gov. Stitt’s efforts to move Oklahoma’s economy forward. The project also has support from philanthropic partners, including the George Kaiser Family Foundation, BOK Financial and other private partners.
Also during the meeting, the Board of Regents approved Tana Fitzpatrick as associate vice president of tribal relations and Tim Rhodes as executive secretary of the OU Board of Regents.
A member of the Crow Tribe of Montana and a Sioux, Ponca and Chickasaw descendent, Fitzpatrick joined OU from the Library of Congress and has nearly 14 years of legal and policy experience in tribal and federal service.
As associate vice president of tribal relations, Fitzpatrick will serve as a strategic adviser to the Office of the President on university relationships with tribal nations and Indigenous communities. She will be instrumental in developing, enhancing and sustaining collaborative partnerships between the university and tribal nations and Indigenous communities locally, regionally and nationally, and will also develop and implement a strategic plan for the university’s Indigenous peoples initiatives.
Rhoades, an OU alumnus with more than 20 years of experience in executive management of government organizations, will return to his alma mater from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, where he served as director of administration.
In his role as executive secretary, Rhodes will be responsible for the operational management of the Board of Regents’ Office, including personnel management and budget administration, ensuring that board recommendations and actions comply with university policies, operating agreements, and state and federal laws and regulations. He will also act as the principal liaison between the Board of Regents and university administration.
“Throughout their respective careers, Tana Fitzpatrick and Tim Rhodes have distinguished themselves as leaders who possess specialized expertise and an ability to strengthen collaborations across disparate constituencies – key attributes that will be an asset to our university,” Harroz said. “We’re fortunate to have them both.”
The Regents also approved the addition of two new online graduate programs – a master of arts in art management and a general master of legal studies degree – to add to the suite of more than 30 graduate degrees offered through OU Online.
Designed for professionals looking to enhance their career in the arts, the M.A. in arts management is built on a flexible structure of fine arts, arts entrepreneurship and practicum courses. The program culminates with two significant practicums rooted in real-market work experience, allowing students to expand their personal network with arts entrepreneurs, artists, arts organizations and philanthropists, while applying the knowledge, skills and frameworks learned throughout the program to the workplace.
The new M.L.S. degree addresses the growing need for broad graduate legal education, providing students with a solid grounding in the study of law while also having the opportunity to pursue areas of relevant specialization.
The proposed degree offerings will now go before the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
The Board of Regents approved the formation of a search committee for the vice president and general counsel, and they also recognized Anil Gollahalli for his 16 years of service to the university in the role. The exceptional achievements of four OU Athletics teams – softball, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis and men’s golf – were also honored with formal citations.
The board is set to next meet in June.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit www.ou.edu.