Regents Approve $13M Budget With No Tuition Increases
A budget deal that prevents any tuition increases this year was announced June 9 at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. The USAO Board of Regents approved a new $13.1 million budget that is mostly unchanged from last year.
“This is effectively a standstill budget,” said Regent John Nelson of Chickasha, who chairs the Regents Finance Committee.
The new budget reflects an unusual partnership between local, state and federal agencies, said USAO President John Feaver.
“This is an unprecedented year,” Feaver explained. “Given the failure of state revenues and limited appropriations for all public colleges and universities, USAO could be spending the next few months making painful cuts. Instead, the federal ARRA money will provide a critical two-year buffer.”
The state budget deal for public universities included some new state money to partially cover $37 million in “mandatory fixed cost increases,” which includes insurance and utilities. To break even, USAO needed an additional $250,000 to cover its mandatory fixed costs.
“Because this crisis affects everyone,” Feaver said, “and despite USAO’s needs, students will receive the most important benefit – no tuition and fee increases this year.”
Federal and state help came too late, however, to prevent the 1.5 percent cut in June budgets that was required by the State of Oklahoma for all public colleges. Being the last month of the fiscal year, June budgets were cut at state colleges because of a shortfall in state tax revenues.
Anticipating the potential for cuts late in the fiscal year, USAO officials started trimming travel and supplies spending back in March, said Mike Coponiti, chief financial officer at USAO.
For the year ahead, USAO Regents on Tuesday approved a total projected Education and General Budget of $13.1 million. The E&G budget consists of both state appropriated and locally generated funds, which includes tuition and fees – and this year, for the first time, $569,000 in federal funds.
USAO's total economic impact on the area is much greater, however, as the college also transmits more than $8 million to students through financial aid from state and federal sources, as well as alumni and local donors combined.
Broken down by object, the USAO budget is spent 75.3 percent on salaries and benefits, less than 1 percent on travel, 4.6 percent on utilities, 9.4 percent on supplies and operating expenses, 1.5 percent on equipment, one percent on library books, and 6.7 percent on scholarships.
USAO's state allocation is $7.2 million for the year beginning July 1, which is down from $7.4 million from last year. That amounts to 55 percent of the university's annual budget. Students pay approximately 33 percent of the cost of their education, or a total of $4.3 million. Another 8 percent from state grants and contracts, plus 4 percent from federal ARRA funds, brings the total to 100 percent.
" We are fully committing to ensuring students the highest possible return on their investment," Feaver said. " USAO is consistently rated nationally for quality and value. As the most affordable public liberal arts college in America -- in a state with the lowest price tag for public higher education among surrounding states -- we intend to continue delivering quality and value."
In other business, Regents approved three campus beautification projects. The first is be a decorative base for the restored Verdin clock recently erected east of Sparks Hall. For the past 15 years, the clock stood west of Nash Library before it was removed -- to make way for the bronze sculpture, “Flight” -- and meticulously restored. The clock will get a brick and mortar base that eventually will be extended as a plaza area between Sparks and the Student Center.
The second capital project is the purchase and installation of another bronze sculpture by California artist Archie Held, who authored the sculpture “Flight” in front of Nash Library. His new work, “Coming Together” is an abstract sculpture depicting two figures interacting. The new $12,000 sculpture is 38 inches wide and 83 inches high. Like the clock, this sculpture will get a brick and mortar base. It will be installed on the lawn south of the Student Center, visible to 17th Street and oval traffic.
The third capital project is a brick and mortar base for another public art installation: a bronze sculpture funded by the Class of 1960. The nameless sculpture depicts a young girl with braids who is seated on a stool and reading a book in her lap. Its permanent home will be a new garden spot being developed between Austin and Troutt halls. The sculpture is 36 inches wide and 64 inches high. Regents approved an expenditure of $22,000 from oil and gas revenues for these three projects.
Regents retained the firm of Casey Russell, CPA, Inc., of Oklahoma City as auditor for another year. The fee is $15,500 to perform these services, which are required by state law.
The board elected Regent Neal McCaleb of Edmond as its chair for the 2009-10 year. Regent Teresa Adwan of Tulsa was presented an engraved gavel commemorating her last meeting as chair. Regent Leslie Hudson was elected vice chair for the coming year.
The board said farewell to Regent Patti Rogstad, who attended her last meeting on Tuesday after a seven-year term. Rogstad, a local businesswoman, was appointed to the board in 2002 by Gov. Frank Keating.
In personnel matters, Regents approved the retirement of long-time baseball Coach L.J. Powell, ending his 12-year career on the college level and 60+ years in coaching altogether. Regents also approved the resignations of Jenny Bendure in USAO Printing Services, Taralee Pringle as head softball coach, Amanda Frank as assistant softball coach, and Erin King as admissions counselor. Regents also approved the retirement of Rodney Ball, who served 24 years on the security staff.
Assistant baseball Coach Mike Ross was promoted to head coach after several years as assistant to Coach L.J. Powell. Regents also approved the appointment of Vincent Maytubby to the physical plant staff. The board also approved a list of 27 adjunct faculty members who will teach fall courses in a variety of subjects.
The next scheduled meeting of the board is Sept. 8.