Regents Approve Budget for Northwestern

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Regents Approve Budget for Northwestern

July 6, 2009

Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s operating budget for the 2010 fiscal year is a mix of good news and not so good news.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved Northwestern’s proposed budget of $21,475,371 at its meeting June 25 in Oklahoma City. The FY10 budget went into effect July 1.

One piece of good news for students and their families is that Northwestern elected to maintain last year’s rates for tuition, mandatory fees and university housing.

“Our cost of attendance is among the lowest of any institution in the region, yet we are very sensitive about maintaining affordability,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said. “We know families are concerned about all types of rising costs and this is one way we can help.”

Another positive aspect of the budget was an allocation of $824,071 in federal stimulus funds that helped offset a 4 percent decrease in state funding.

“Without the stimulus funds, we would have been looking at employee layoffs and other more significant cuts in operations,” Cunningham said.

Unfortunately, all of the news was not so pleasant.

In order to maintain current tuition rates, Northwestern was unable to offer employees across-the-board salary increases, implemented cuts in non-academic operation budgets and slashed travel budgets for many non-academic areas, including athletics.

“This is the third year in a row that we have been unable to offer across-the-board salary increases,” Cunningham said. “We have an outstanding group of employees who work very hard and deserve to be rewarded. Our ability to keep current employees and recruit qualified candidates is being impacted.

“Our students deserve an outstanding level of service. They need a commitment from the State of Oklahoma to appropriately fund its public higher education system.”

In the long term, Cunningham expressed concern about having enough resources to fulfill the mission of Northwestern to provide education opportunities and services to the region.

“For the first time in our history, state funding as a percentage of our budget will drop below 50 percent,” Cunningham said. “We should have federal stimulus dollars available for the fiscal year 2011, but after that, state funding will have to return back to its 2009 level or the picture becomes very bleak.”