The final implementation report on 44 recommendations
made by a Citizens' Commission designed to guide Oklahoma higher
education into the 21st century was reviewed recently by the Oklahoma
State Regents for Higher Education.
The recommendations - which focus on Oklahoma's
changing population, economic development, technology, funding and
administration and management - were made by 36 Oklahomans serving
on the Citizens' Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
The Regents established the commission in October 1996 to assist
in the development of a multi-year plan for Oklahoma's higher education
system. The commission outlined 44 recommendations for Oklahoma
higher education in October 1997.
"Over the past three years, the State
Regents have targeted $187.9 million toward accomplishing the goals
set forth by the Citizens Commission," said Chancellor Hans
Brisch. "Through the commission's work, several valuable goals
and strategies were established for Oklahoma higher education that,
when accomplished, will provide great benefits to all students and
citizens involved in the educational process - and most importantly
to our state."
"The recommendations have offered necessary
guidance over the past three years as to where higher education
should focus its energy and drive, especially in the areas of economic
development and technology," Brisch noted. "We are also
pleased to announce that great strides have been made in each of
the five focus areas and that plans are in place to accomplish even
more in the future."
The following accomplishments were among
those highlighted recently by the Regents.
Demographics and Changing Markets
- Development of an annual ACT Standards
for Transition report that outlines basic competencies students
need for college and career success.
- Increased development and distribution
of college preparation publications and student information Web
- Sponsorship of Internet chat sessions
for parents and students on preparing and paying for college.
- Development of an employment and career
services Web site, the Oklahoma Marketplace, which helps match
Oklahoma college graduates with Oklahoma jobs. A similar site,
the Teacher Job Connection, was created to match Oklahoma certified
teachers with Oklahoma school vacancies.
- Approval of an initiative to provide
Oklahoma public colleges and universities with names and addresses
of talented students taking eighth and 10th grade academic skills
and career assessment exams.
- Created a Higher Education Task Force
on Student Retention to make recommendations on improving student
retention and graduation.
Additionally, Regents announced Brain Gain
2010: Building Oklahoma Through Intellectual Power, a comprehensive
plan for doubling the expected growth rate of college degree holders
in Oklahoma by 2010.
Three major efforts have been undertaken,
which respond to recommendations made by both the Citizens' Commission
and the Brain Gain initiative.
- GEAR UP, Gaining Early Awareness and
Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a multi-million federal
grant which has allowed the State Regents to undertake a massive
public awareness campaign as well as build on existing resources
such as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program and the Educational
Planning and Assessment System, to better prepare students for
- Smart Start, a $15 million federal grant,
will place 3,600 mentors and tutors in schools and communities
across the state.
- State Regents have also partnered with
the Council on Adult and Experiential Learning to learn more about
business and industry’s higher education needs in an effort to
keep more college graduates in the state.
Economic and Workforce Development
In response to commission recommendations, State Regents developed
a three-part economic development plan that focuses on workforce
development, research and the establishment of centers of excellence.
- Established the Office of System Advancement
and Economic Development to provide a one-stop information source
for businesses seeking higher education programs and services.
- Awarded grants to state colleges and
universities to design workforce development programs in targeted
growth areas like biotechnology, information technology, aviation,
aeronautics and high-tech manufacturing.
- Developed customized degree programs
for business and industry that are typically available onsite.
- Development of research parks at Oklahoma's
comprehensive universities in response to State Questions 680
and 681, which fostered transfer of research from higher education
to the market.
- Partnership with ACT to provide business
training, certification, and assessment services to business and
- Offered additional workforce development
services at off-campus business locations through OneNet, the
state's telecommunications and information network and the Online
College of Oklahoma.
- Established new standards and guidelines
for college and university business programs that include entrepreneurial
and student internship components.
- Developed innovative partnerships with
OG&E, CACI, Inc. and the U.S. Navy for customized workforce development
- Conducted annual analysis and report
on employment of Oklahoma higher education graduates.
- Developed fast-track educational programs
at some institutions to meet workforce demands in targeted areas.
- Approved a policy calling for students
graduating from Oklahoma colleges and universities to demonstrate
a mastery of computer skills.
- Provided monetary incentives to faculty
who successfully integrate technology and teaching through the
Williams Faculty Innovator Awards and the Faculty Instructional
- Joined the Western Governors University,
which offers programs based on competency achievement.
- Participated in benchmarking study to
determine best practices in classroom technology integration.
- Allocated millions to state colleges
and universities, as part of the statewide learning initiative
to establish facilities and capacity to import courses from other
higher education institutions.
- Established a pilot kiosk information
system at Oklahoma City's metropolitan area university and four
colleges that provides individuals at each location instant access
to needed academic information.
- Allocated funds for a cooperative curriculum
development project in which faculty in 11 disciplines from across
the state, evaluate and recommend multimedia course materials
for electronic offerings.
- Established the Online College of Oklahoma
to provide online information on hundreds of courses being offered
electronically by state colleges and universities.
- Required institutions to submit technology
components in annual institutional academic plans.
- Established OneNet Advisory Board comprised
of external experts to ensure competitiveness.
In relation to funding recommendations made by the Citizens'
- Funding for Oklahoma higher education
has increased 17.7 percent from $693.3 million in 1998 to $816.2
- A new Oklahoma Tuition Scholarship will
provide two years of free tuition to high school graduates whose
income falls below $70,000 and who meet certain preparation and
- The Oklahoma College Savings Plan, administered
by the State Regents and State Treasurer, started in April and
will offer tax-incentives to individuals who contribute to a college
- Approximately 8.0 percent of Oklahoma
higher education's 2000-2001 budget is categorized as incentive
funding. Nationally, 2 to 5 percent of state higher education
budgets are dedicated to incentive funding.
Higher Education Administration and Management
- Approval of a proposal to implement a
quick, accurate and cost-efficient electronic transfer system
for student records among Oklahoma colleges and universities.
- Partnership with the Oklahoma Department
of Libraries to provide patrons online access to full-text resources
from thousands of magazines, newspapers and journals.
- Enhancement of student services as a
result of resource sharing among colleges and universities in
areas such as instruction, student services, legal and administrative
- Release of the first consumer-based accountability
report on Oklahoma higher education in May, which provides state
and national higher education data comparisons in numerous areas.
- Research into privatization that determined
28 institutions and constituent agencies privatized or outsourced
at least one function. Regents will continue investigating other
avenues for outsourcing.
- Numerous Regents' policies have been
revised to decentralize decision-making to the campus within general
policy parameters - such as approving academic calendars, delivering
and receiving electronic courses, suspending academic programs
In accepting the final report on the Citizens'
Commission recommendations, the State Regents emphasized that they
would continue to use the document as a guide for addressing higher
education issues in coming years.
"The work of the Citizens' Commission
is recognized as an important component to the ongoing development
and delivery of higher education in Oklahoma," said State Regents
and Citizens' Commission Chairman Bill W. Burgess Jr. "To assure
successful, long-term implementation of the recommendations, it
will be imperative that we work closely with the higher education
community and the legislature to secure the necessary funds and
"With the continued support, Oklahoma
higher education is poised to realize the mission of the Citizens'
Commission and truly be Oklahoma's driving force for cultural and
economic development well-being," he added.
statewide GEAR UP grant has been matched by more than $25 million
from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million,
GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government
and 55 percent from other organizations.