July 6, 2011
Dealing with a 5.8 percent cut in state funding was the paramount challenge for administrators at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in preparing its budget for the 2012 fiscal year that began July 1.
Northwestern’s governing body, the Regional University System of Oklahoma, along with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, approved the school’s budget proposals that include an increase in tuition and fees.
“The reduction in state funding and the loss of federal stimulus dollars create major challenges for Northwestern and other public colleges and universities, especially as we deal with near-record levels of enrollment,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president. “Continued cuts in state funding threaten the ability to fulfill our mission to provide quality degree programs at affordable levels.
“As our state’s economic climate improves, we hope Governor Fallin and members of the legislature will begin to restore lost funding and reinvest in the educational dreams of Oklahomans.”
Northwestern’s general operating budget for FY12 is $23,608,292. Of the amount budgeted, only 42.6 percent is derived from state appropriations, an historic low.
To compensate for the loss in state funding, Northwestern will raise tuition and fees by 5.9 percent. Resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees will be $153 per credit hour beginning in the fall semester. For a student taking 30 credit hours per year the increase will amount to $255.
“We have been excellent stewards of the funding provided by the people of Oklahoma and our students, but at some point the loss of revenue begins to affect the quality of programs and access to support services,” Cunningham said. “Our student leadership has made it clear they want quality faculty, no reduction in course sections and appropriate access to academic and other support services. They agreed with our tuition and fee proposals.”
The new tuition and fee rates are only 81.6 percent of the amount that Northwestern is permitted to charge by the state legislature.
To counter the increases, the University will increase its commitment to student scholarships and will increase efforts to raise additional private funds for scholarship support.
Cunningham noted the upcoming budget year will mark the fifth consecutive year that Northwestern employees will receive no across-the-board salary increase.
“We are holding the line on spending; however, it has become increasingly difficult to keep our most talented faculty and staff members, and it is very difficult to find quality people to fill open positions,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Cunningham said she is eager to begin the fall semester.
“The best part of my job is watching freshmen become graduates who begin making their mark in the world. At the end of the day, the work that we do transforms lives.”
Wed, July 6, 2011
by Erika Birk filed under