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February 16, 2016 - students, higher education representatives gather at state capitol for higher education day

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More than 300 students, faculty and representatives from Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities gathered at the state Capitol today to promote the value and importance of higher education in the state.

Speakers included Gov. Mary Fallin; Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman; Speaker of the House of Representatives Jeff Hickman; Gen. Toney Stricklin, chairman, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; and President Cheryl Evans, chair of the state system Council of Presidents.

“Higher Education Day allows students and representatives of our college and university campuses an opportunity to meet with their legislators and make the case that higher education is the best investment that they can make in Oklahoma’s future,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Our state system of higher education remains committed to increasing our college degree and certificate attainment, which strengthens our state’s economy.”

Three students also spoke at the event. Beautiful-Joy Fields, Langston University; Cody Asche, Northern Oklahoma College; and Crystal Tate, Southeastern Oklahoma State University told attendees how they have benefitted from higher education, and how attending one of Oklahoma’s public college and universities has impacted their lives.

The State Regents have requested $963.4 million for FY 2017, which reflects no increase over the FY 2016 appropriation of $963.4 million.  The State Regents also approved an addendum acknowledging the need for $22 million to meet campus operational fixed costs.

Strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce pipeline through degree and certificate completion continues to be the state system of higher education’s top priority.

Another area of focus is maintaining current law regarding weapons on higher education campuses. Oklahoma higher education does not oppose the second amendment or gun ownership. Under current law, campus presidents have the discretion to grant exceptions to the weapons ban when an exception is warranted. The State Regents and the presidents of all 25 state system institutions strongly believe that there is no scenario where expanding authorization to carry weapons on higher education campuses does anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

The State Regents also continue efforts to preserve the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship as an access program. Recognized by many as America’s best college access program, Oklahoma’s Promise is considered a model that combines emphases on academic preparation and financial support for college. More than 65,000 students have earned college tuition scholarships through Oklahoma’s Promise since the program’s inception in 1992.