june 11, 2003

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Chancellor and Les RisserOSRHE: On the Road

From Idabel to Goodwell, Miami to Lawton, we have traveled the state in the past five months. Our goal was to visit every campus before summer and we almost made it. Due mainly to the legislative session, we needed to postpone a couple campus visits. We look forward to scheduling these last few campus visits at the beginning of the fall term.

There is no way to adequately describe how wonderful and informative these visits have been. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the system-wide communicators group as well as staff from each President’s office for coordinating our visits. It was an incredible amount of work to schedule, coordinate, host, manage, and welcome us so warmly. We appreciate it so very much!

On each campus we had the privilege of visiting with various constituent groups. The schedule generally included meetings with the President, the leadership team, faculty and staff, local board members, community members, alumni and student leaders. We came away from each college or university recognizing the wonderful uniqueness of each campus community. Our state is fortunate to have institutions of higher education, which are accessible to both traditional and non-traditional students in all corners of the state. We were consistently impressed not only by the focused leadership at each institution, but also by the strength and variety of program options. The one thing that was identical at each institution was the incredible sense of pride and optimism expressed by the various constituencies.

Enrollment growth, budget challenges, tuition increases, capital improvements, student services, financial aid, faculty and staff compensation, and technology transfer were all consistent themes. But creativity, innovative thinking, and strategic risk-taking seemed to define the spirit on all of our campuses. We are proud to be part of a system of higher education, which is student-focused, forward thinking and justly celebrative.

Thank you so much for such a warm welcome.

Paul and Les Risser