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Interim Prexy at University Is Emphasizing Inclusion

Diversity in Front Seat?

NORMAN—The recently-named interim president of the University of Oklahoma said he will be working to improve inclusion efforts at the school.

_Joseph Harroz Jr. was named to the position following the sudden “retirement” of James Gallogly, who had been president for only 10 months.

Mr. Harroz’s appointment by the university’s regents followed a number of racist incidents on the campus.

Those incidents spawned calls for improved diversity initiatives.

Also, during Mr. Gallogly’s tenure, the vice president of diversity at the university was forced to resign as Jabar Shumate alleged that officials at the school were planning to reinstate a fraternity chapter, which had been involved in racist activities.

Then-president David Boren expelled the from the campus and closed it’s fraternity house.

After the fraternity house was closed, it was converted to become the offices of the vice president of diversity.

Mr. Shumate also alleged that the school officials wanting to reinstate the fraternity asked him to vacate his offices so they could accommodate the planned reinstated fraternity chapter.

“Step I is to recognize and be honest,” Mr. Harroz.

“We need to make sure people know what we actually have--and that’s an incredible, vibrant and caring community--and that those examples that popped up are the worst of us…. and they aren’t us.”

The 52-year-old interim president said the university must first acknowledge that the school has struggled with inclusion.

“It’s not about hoping the next incident doesn’t occur, but being honest, forthright and being proactive in making sure we communicate,” he said, “and that we are clear and that we have programs that help us understand each other and that we make it our strength.”

Early last week, Mr. Harroz met with the school’s Council on Diversity, and then met with faculty and staff-members in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Before he was appointed interim president, Mr. Harroz had been dean of the university’s law school.

The board of regents will begin a formal search for a permanent president after Mr. Harroz has been on the job 15 months.

“It’s critical,” the interim president said of those 15 months. “We have so many things that have to happen right now that we can’t lose time on.”

Mr. Harroz worked as Mr. Boren’s legislative director and legal counsel when Boren was a U.S. senator.

In 1996, he was named general counsel of the University of Oklahoma, serving as chief legal counsel to Mr. Boren and ..To read more, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper

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