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Archive for Friday, June 26, 2009

OU regents approve $1.48B budget, no tuition increase

June 26, 2009

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— University of Oklahoma regents on Wednesday approved a $1.48 billion budget for the upcoming school year that does not include increases in tuition and mandatory fees.

OU President David Boren promised in January that he would not seek such increases, citing the economic slowdown and its effect on students and their families.

In-state undergraduates taking a standard course load of 30 credit hours over two semesters will pay $6,493 in tuition and fees next school year. Out-of-state students will pay $16,474. Regents did approve a 3 percent increase in room and board rates for most on-campus residence halls and apartments.

The university remains determined to making higher education affordable to students despite the recession and has raised $10 million for scholarships this year, Boren said. That raises the total for its ongoing five-year campaign to $150 million.

The university’s athletic department increased its annual support for academic programs by $3 million, bringing the department’s total direct and indirect support for academics to more than $7 million per year, Boren said.

About $1 million of the new money will come from an increase in football ticket prices and the remainder from efforts to hold down travel costs, reallocate expenses and find other savings within the athletic department.

“There’ll be some cutbacks in our own program,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Not on our focus of giving our sports programs the chance to be successful, but areas that perhaps we have determined or have items that need to wait for a period of time.”

The increased funds from the athletic department helped OU avoid laying off or furloughing employees, although university employees will not receive raises, Boren said.

Last year, before the recession worsened, Boren instituted a general hiring freeze and said OU would slow down construction projects.

“We simply anticipated that what happened could happen and we were preparing for it as best we could,” Boren said. “That helped us a great deal.”

OU also received a boost when the state Legislature appropriated $1.124 billion for Oklahoma higher education, an amount that includes federal stimulus funds. State education leaders, including Boren, had asked for the money before the session began.

“It’s a tough year,” Boren told the regents. “It’s a very difficult year, but in comparison to most colleges and universities across the country, I feel we’re fortunate.”

The regents voted unanimously to extend the 68-year-old Boren’s contract through Nov. 20, 2014, and automatically extend it each year by one year. His salary, which is tied to that of faculty and staff, was not increased.

Boren’s contract also includes a so-called “stay bonus” of $450,000, which he will receive if he does not become the president at another university before June 30, 2013. The stay bonus — put into his contract last year — will be paid for with private, not state, funds.

On Wednesday, regents approved the establishment of an endowed chair named for Boren at the OU Foundation. The position will be paid for with private donations, and regents said they hoped to raise $500,000 for it. Boren will be the first to hold the seat.

The foundation is independent of the university, though its sole purpose is to manage the university’s financial dealings including investments, fellowships, endowments and scholarship funds.

In July, Boren will become the longest-serving president among universities in the Big 12 Conference. He left a U.S. Senate seat in 1994 to become OU’s top administrator.

“We are so pleased with our results for this year,” regents chairman A. Max Weitzenhoffer told Boren. “We expect you to be with us until you decide otherwise.”

Regents also approved the project design for a $20 million clinic in north Tulsa and voted to name the facility after former Sooner basketball star Wayman Tisdale, who died May 15 at age 44 after a two-year battle with cancer.

They also approved an $8.8 million budget for the construction of a new library and learning center on OU’s Tulsa campus.

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