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2006 Legislative Agenda (cont.)

G.O.A.L.S. 2006: Graduate Oklahoma! Accountability. Leadership. Scholarship.

Graduate Oklahoma!
What is the value of higher education in Oklahoma? Simply put, higher education changes the lives of the people who are changing our state. Today’s community leaders are the college students of yesterday. Our state’s future is being shaped each day on our public college and university campuses.

We have never been a state that settles for second best, but it is clear that the competition for jobs and sustained growth is getting tougher and more sophisticated. Big investments are being made in higher education in other states and around the world. To improve the long-term quality of life for our citizens, Oklahoma must also increase its investment.

Clearly, this increased investment should be made only after a thoughtful, strategic and well-justified approach is presented. The programs featured below only scratch the surface of the dynamic approaches that can be provided by a state system whose students are funded at the national average.

To truly “Graduate Oklahoma” to the next level of economic achievement, higher education must be willing to lead the way. That kind of robust and determined leadership is summarized in G.O.A.L.S. 2006.

Accountability and efficiency
Cost-effective operation. Oklahoma public colleges and universities have continued to find ways to serve a growing student body while keeping administrative costs low, even while enrollment has increased 12.5 percent over the past five years. In fact, all Oklahoma public institutions are operating well below the cap on administrative expenditures established by the State Regents for each institution.

Efficiency by collaboration. Collaborations and shared resources among institutions are becoming more and more common, often using distance learning technologies offered by OneNet to extend the accessibility of a wide range of programs such as teacher education, languages and mathematics.

Leadership
Oklahoma’s colleges and universities are showing dynamic leadership, in part by creating programs to make Oklahoma successful in the 21st century economy. Here are a few exciting examples:

A statewide collaborative initiative to meet the nursing shortage in Oklahoma
Oklahoma's public colleges and universities are poised to respond to the dramatic health care worker shortage in Oklahoma. Qualified students are eager to enter these fields, but most programs must turn away applicants because of a shortage of trained faculty and facility space. A rapid response is being developed that is focused and collaborative. Investments will be leveraged by designing cooperative programs among colleges and with CareerTech, the Oklahoma Hospital Association and other partners. Moreover, the investments will be made in regions of the state where data analysis shows the greatest need.

Many new collaborations to meet the workforce needs of Oklahoma
With new technologies emerging almost daily, the need to compete with the high-quality products and services now produced in other countries demands that Oklahoma business and industry continuously arm their employees with new skills and knowledge. Several institutions are stepping up and meeting this international challenge. Here are a few examples:

The Innovation Center at Rogers State University will provide a needed business incubator for the region and provide valuable hands-on experience for students, particularly those involved in the entrepreneurship option in the business administration program.

Northern Oklahoma College exemplifies the principle of continuous improvement in its relationship with MerCruiser Corporation in Stillwater. After more than nine years of partnership, NOC now offers five associate in applied science degrees.

The Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma will offer in-service training courses for professionals and paraprofessionals currently employed and serving within criminal or law enforcement systems.

The dynamic and growing retail and hospitality businesses in eastern Oklahoma would reap great advantages from the new major in business services being developed by Eastern Oklahoma State College.

Oklahoma’s colleges and universities respond to internationalization and changing demographics
Recognizing the incredible social and economic potential of the increasing number of Hispanic Oklahomans, Oklahoma Panhandle State University aspires to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) to better serve its students and the people in the region.

Seminole State College is examining the establishment of a Global Studies Department to encourage all students to participate in special courses and projects that will include global experiences in their education.

Legislative agenda continued