Message From the Commission Chairman (October 1997)
Throughout the spring of 1996, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education found ourselves discussing time and again the future of our state and its citizens and the pivotal role of higher education in that future:
- Reports described Oklahoma’s changing populations, and we questioned how our state’s colleges and universities could best reach and serve them.
- We were keenly aware of the relentless pace of advancing technologies, and we grappled with a myriad of issues surrounding long-distance learning and the electronic delivery of education.
- Oklahoma’s changing economy and job markets presented challenges that had us re-examining higher education’s role in economic development and workforce preparation.
At the same time, we were evaluating the impact of external forces, we were assessing Oklahoma higher education itself. Terms like deregulation, cooperation and collaboration arose over and again. And the ever-present concerns with the financial condition of the state’s college and university system seemed even more compelling as we looked one, two and three decades ahead.
It was with these challenges in mind that the State Regents undertook the creation of a multi-year guide for Oklahoma higher education. To assist us in creating such a plan, the State Regents, under the chairmanship of Anne H. Morgan, created the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
In the fall of 1996, each Regent selected Oklahomans to serve on the 36-member Commission. Those men and women came from all four quadrants of our state and brought with them a cross section of educational backgrounds and professional experiences.
As chairman of the Citizens’ Commission, I have been gratified by the enthusiasm, frankness and talent of my fellow Commission members. They began their work in October and in the months that followed, examined an amazing range of issues under the five broad headings of higher education markets, economic/workforce development, technology, funding, and administration and management.
The Commission met with nationally recognized experts who shared invaluable information and expertise. Those presentations sparked discussions that were both thoughtful and thought-provoking, with Commission members challenging old paradigms of education and creating new ones.
After identifying critical issues and strategies for each of the five areas, the Commission reached consensus on 41 recommendations. The State Regents will now review the Commission’s recommendations and select those for implementation
The result will be a guide to help us in shaping the future of Oklahoma higher education.
At this time in our state’s history, there is no undertaking more vital to the well-being of our fellow Oklahomans than assuring that Oklahoma’s higher education system is poised to prepare them to succeed in the 21st Century. The members of the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education can take special satisfaction in their achievement: they have helped to forge a richer future for all of us.
Bill W. Burgess Jr.
Chairman of the Citizens' Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education and an Oklahoma State Regent for Higher Education