The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education honored Gov. Brad Henry with the 2009 Distinguished Service Award today during Chancellor Glen D. Johnson’s 2009-10 State of Higher Education address.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented to individuals who demonstrated distinguished leadership and support of higher education in Oklahoma during the 2009 legislative session.
During the presentation, Chancellor Johnson highlighted many of the accomplishments achieved during Henry’s two terms. These include approving legislation giving the State Regents tuition-setting authority; establishing the Oklahoma Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) endowment; approving the 2005 higher education capital bond issue; and providing Oklahoma’s Promise, the state’s premiere college access and scholarship program, with a permanent, dedicated funding source.
“Since his inauguration, Gov. Henry has recognized the importance of higher education and its role as the engine that drives our state’s economy,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “During his years as governor, higher education in Oklahoma has accomplished much during times of both financial hardships and prosperity. It is our great honor to present Gov. Henry with the 2009 Distinguished Service Award as a token of our gratitude for his work in keeping higher education a top priority.”
During the address, Johnson also highlighted other successes in higher education in recent years.
An analysis conducted by the Regional Economic Models Inc. demonstrates the enormous economic impact made by higher education. The study shows that for every state-appropriated dollar spent on higher education in Oklahoma, an additional $5 is pumped in to the state’s economy.
Enrollment in Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities continues to increase. The Fall 2009 Preliminary Enrollment Report shows that the total headcount is up 10,291 more students than the fall 2008, signifying a 5.8 percent increase.
One of the most important indicators of higher education success is the number of degrees conferred. In 2007-08, the state system awarded nearly 24,000 associate and bachelor’s degrees, the most awarded in a single year in state history.
“To continue providing an affordable, high-quality educational opportunity for our students, the State Regents voted in November to request $27.5 million, or a 2.6 percent increase, in new state appropriations during the 2010 legislative session,” said Johnson. “We continue to make the case that the dollars appropriated for higher education are the best investment made in the future of our state.”