OU Interim President First Day In Office
NORMAN, Oklahoma - The University of Oklahoma's new interim president introduced himself to the staff Friday. Joe Harroz, Jr. will now step-in for Jim Gallogly.
Harroz released his first statement as the institution's leader saying in part, "We are committed to building a far more diverse and inclusive OU; nothing else we do will succeed unless we accomplish real change, together."
Harroz is also the Dean of OU College of Law. He will serve as president for at least 15 months until a permanent president is selected.
At that time, the OU Board of Regents will consider him for that full-time position.
However, some are already calling the appointment an egregious error. Critics note that Harroz has a deep-rooted history to the regents, and another former OU President David Boren.
Both Boren and Former OU Vice President Tripp Hall are currently under investigation for sexual misconduct.
The university initiated its own case, and later the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation created a separate investigation.
Harroz once served as the legislative director and legal counsel to Boren when he was a U.S. Senator. For 12 years, he was also the general counsel to the University of Oklahoma, as chief legal counsel to the president and the OU Board of Regents.
The regents announced their decision after a nearly 6-hour long, closed door meeting.
“We look forward as a board to working with Joe as interim president, knowing that he will be effective in advancing OU's mission while continuing to build on its now solid financial foundation,” said Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, the chair of the board of regents.
The alleged victim’s in the Boren and Hall investigation says Harroz is too close to the administration to be trusted.
“It's beyond a question of a doubt for me, someone who's career has been built by David Boren has a conflict of interest as big as the state of Oklahoma,” said Jess Eddy, Boren’s accuser.
Eddy said Boren repeatedly sexual assault in his time at OU. He was shocked to hear the board's decision.
The student government had even asked the regents for more transparency before the decision was made, saying the way the last president (Gallogly) was selected created "mistrust" in the OU community.
While regents maintain the new interim president will not be involved in the Boren investigation, critics have their doubts.
“Anyone with that kind of proximity to the president for that long, has the kind of the knowledge of the misconduct that has been going on,” said Eddy.
News 9 reached out Boren’s attorney for a comment, and has not heard back.