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Harroz won’t be involved in Boren investigation

OU chief focuses on inclusion

The University of Oklahoma’s interim president wants to improve inclusion efforts during his tenure, which follows several racist incidents on campus and calls for improved diversity initiatives.

“Step One is to recognize and be honest,” said Joseph Harroz JJr., who was named interim president on Friday. “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.”

Harroz, 52, said one of the first steps should be to acknowledge the university 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 and that we are clear and that we have programs that help us understand each other and that we make it our strength,” Harroz said.

Harroz, who spoke with The Oklahoman on Monday, said his first few days on the job have included meetings with students and faculty to hear concerns and wishes for the future of the university.

On Monday, Harroz met with the diversity council on campus before meetings in Oklahoma City and with faculty and staff at the University of Oklahoma Tulsa.

Plucked away from his spot as dean at the OU College of Law, Harroz has been given 15 months as interim president before an official search for the university’s 15th president is to start.

Harroz doesn’t plan on wasting a second.

“It’s critical,” Harroz said of his 15-month window. “We have so many things that have to happen right now that we can’t lose time on.”

Harroz follows James Gallogly, who last week stepped down as president following 10 months in office.

Gallogly was hired last year following the retirement of David Boren, who is being investigated for sexual misconduct by an OU-hired law firm.

Harroz worked as 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 Boren and the OU board of regents for 12 years.

OU hired the Jones Day law firm in November, and the OU regents and Gallogly have heard the findings from the investigation but have not released any more information.

Boren, 78, who also served as Oklahoma’s governor, has denied wrongdoing.

Harroz said he won’t be involved with the ..To read more, subscribe to the blackchronicle newspaper