Former OU Executive Shumate Says He Was Wrongly Terminated; University Fires Back
OKLAHOMA CITY - A former University of Oklahoma executive called a press conference Wednesday afternoon to detail his termination from the school and counter allegations of impropriety.
Jabar Shumate, who has served as both a state senator and representative, said he was forced to resign his position and was wrongly terminated as Vice President of the Office of University Community, which was created in the wake of a 2015 scandal involving the SAE fraternity on campus.
Shumate said he was informed the university would be removing the office, its staff and students from its location at that very fraternity house and that the SAE fraterniity would eventually be allowed to form again.
"On Monday, July 24, I was faced with two options: be terminated or resign," he said in a written statement.
Shumate also alluded to allegations he said have been made against him by the university, calling them a "high-tech lynching." Neither Shumate nor his attorney were willing to detail the accusations OU is making against him, adding that the school would need to do that themselves.
Here is the entirety of Shumate's statement:
3 years ago, I was hired by University of Oklahoma President David Boren to lead the Office of University Community as Vice President. The Office was created with the express purpose of helping the University community to heal from the wounds of unfortunate incidents of racism within the SAE Fraternity at OU by embracing diversity and inclusivity.
Along with the many changes being implemented at OU, I was recently informed that the University would be removing the Office of University Community, its staff, and students from its current location at the former SAE Fraternity House and that the fraternity would eventually be reinstituted. Then, on Monday, July 24th, I was faced with 2 options: be terminated or resign.
It is with great sadness that I must inform my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students, and the Public - that I was forced to resign my post as Vice President for the University Community. It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life to work in this capacity at the University of Oklahoma. I wish to thank you all for the opportunity to be of service.
I am making this statement in the spirit of concern, appreciation, and respect for the institution that has given me so much and given so much to so many in this State. I am deeply affected by this and after close counsel with loved ones and legal counsel, I have decided to evaluate my legal options in response to these recent events, an option that I could never have imagined taking.
I feel forced to make this decision not only as a result of my involuntary resignation, but due to false accusations the University has made and I anticipate will be making against my character. The nature of these allegations are not only slanderous but from my perspective constitute a high tech lynching.
I believe that the current administration at the University of Oklahoma is self-inflicting damage and potentially irreparable harm to our State's flagship institution, and I hope that somehow, as Oklahomans, we can help guide the University back to its path of true excellence and commitment to diversity.
As this is a deeply emotional and trying time for me, I would request that, at this time, questions be directed to my attorney, Mrs. Lindsey Mulinix-Ewert.
Shumate and his attorney told reporters they were considering an EEOC claim and a discrimination lawsuit against OU.
In a statement released at 5:45 p.m., the university issued this statement about Shumate's dismissal:
When confronted with an audit that concluded last week, which revealed a significant misuse of university assets, Jabar Shumate resigned and the university accepted his resignation. OU highly values and appreciates the position of the chief diversity officer and the office of university community. Because this was not a preplanned exit, the university has not yet named an interim chief diversity officer. We are seeking new leadership for that position immediately.
The SAE fraternity is not reopening a chapter at the University of Oklahoma and the audit and discovery of misuse of funds had nothing to do with this topic.