The Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents voted unanimously Friday to consider building a presidential residence on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater.
During a meeting at OSU's Oklahoma City campus, regents approved forming a subcommittee to look into the idea of replacing Willham House, which was built north of the Stillwater campus in 1960 and has been the residence of OSU presidents since 1962.
Regent Doug Burns made the proposal from the subcommittee and said OSU's incoming president, Burns Hargis, made no request for a new residence.
Burns, who led the search committee that recommended Hargis for the job, said the committee "thought it very important that a new house be built and that the full board consider that possibility."
Hargis was not in the room when Burns made his proposal. Hargis later said he plans to reside at Willham House -- which is named after former OSU President Oliver Willham -- after he takes office in July.
He said he did not ask for the proposed new on-campus residence but that building it would be a good idea.
"I think there is a sense that being closer to campus, or even on campus, makes sense, for students to visit," Hargis said. "I think it is a good idea for future presidents to be much closer to campus."
Bob Miller, the chairman of OSU's faculty council, said that group likely would not have any objections to the construction of an on-campus presidential residence, as long as public funds were not used.
Burns said the proposed residence likely would be built using private funds.
Also at the meeting:
- Regents also voted to give OSU Provost Marlene Strathe a 3 percent salary increase, retroactive to July 1, which would increase her annual salary from $275,000 to $283,250.
Strathe, the top academic officer at OSU, has served as the university's interim president since March 1 and will continue to do so until Hargis takes office. Board Executive Secretary Doug Wilson said an administrative error resulted in Strathe not receiving a scheduled raise in July, when other OSU employees received raises.
- Regents approved the purchase of land in Ardmore for the construction of an agricultural experiment station. OSU will buy 90 acres near the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation offices for about $720,000. The $8,000-per-acre price is $1,000 per acre more than the land's appraised value. Bob Whitson, OSU's vice president of agricultural programs, said the university was willing to pay a higher price for the land because of its proximity to the Noble Foundation. Whitson said the station should be operational by 2010 and could employ 10 to 15 researchers. OSU, the University of Oklahoma and the Noble Foundation are collaborating on the Oklahoma Bioenergy Center, which was established earlier this year by the state Legislature. A primary use of the station in its early years will be in biofuels research, particularly in examining possible ways to convert switchgrass and forest timber resources into ethanol, Whitson said. The facility was made possible by a $10 million appropriation from the Legislature. Regents selected Miles Associates of Oklahoma City as the facility's architect and Lambert Construction Co. of Stillwater as the project's construction manager.
- Regents also approved changing the name of OSU's Okmulgee campus from OSU-Okmulgee to Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology-Okmulgee. The name change must also be approved by the State Regents for Higher Education and the Oklahoma Legislature.