Personnel Investigations Loom Large As OU Board Of Regents Meet In OKC
The OU Board of Regents immediately went into a closed door meeting Friday morning to discuss ongoing personnel investigations at the university.
While the agenda did not specify, regents are expected to be given updates on the investigations into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against former OU President David Boren and former OU Vice President Tripp Hall.
Three men came forward with allegations against the men in recent months. Two of them, Jess Eddy and Levi Hilliard, have gone public with their allegations. The third has remained anonymous. All three have given statements to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents who are investigating the allegations.
The findings of the OSBI investigations will be heard by a multi-county grand jury.
Normally, such an investigation would be overseen by state Attorney General Mike Hunter. However, Hunter chose to recuse himself from the investigation, citing the potential for future conflicts of interest as the state’s chief attorney.
Hunter appointed stories former U.S. Attorney Pat Ryan to be special counsel for the state investigation. Hunter’s office said Ryan will be impartial and does not have a conflict of interest despite attending OU Law School with Boren and worked alongside Boren as editors of the Oklahoma Law Review.
Earlier this month, regents heard the findings of a separate investigation into financial irregularities at OU by the university’s hired law firm, Atlanta-based Jones Day.
“We have said from the beginning when multiple individuals alleged inappropriate conduct that we wanted an independent investigation to provide us the facts,” Board of Regents Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes said after the meeting April 5. “We are satisfied the investigation by Jones Day was thorough, fair, non-biased and objective. This is a serious matter, and we will carefully consider what we learned today, and we will respond in a timely and prompt manner in accordance with the university’s existing policies and procedures.”
Regents are also expected to discuss the creation of a search committee to replace former Dean Suzette Grillot.
Grillot, who is a tenured professor, was fired from her position as dean in January. She said her firing was retaliation for her advocacy for diversity awareness on campus. Grillot is suing the university, claiming she was discriminated.
She thrust herself into the spotlight during a spring meeting on campus with students of color and current OU President Jim Gallogly after several racist incidents on campus ignited outcry and discussion about race and racism on campus.
I'm not going to be as kind as the people that came before me and say in a year from now we're going to ask for your resignation. I'm going to f****ing ask for it now!” Grillot said at that meeting.
Her lawsuit is still pending. The meeting is expected to last anywhere from two to five hours on Friday.