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2006 Legislative Agenda (cont.)

Scholarship and research
Activities in the classrooms and laboratories of today often lead to the job growth and wealth creation of tomorrow. To strengthen Oklahoma’s job growth, higher education has undertaken many actions. These activities can have even more impact with increased levels of state investment.

Implementing new academic programs that educate students for the 21st century economy

Southwestern Oklahoma State University and East Central University will both expand their bioscience programs to train students to become technicians, associate researchers and senior researchers in public and private laboratories in the industry. Oklahoma City Community College is looking to enhance the level of assistance it provides to the local growth of the biotech industry by creating a trained workforce that will foster business relocation. Oklahoma State University’s new Multispectral Laboratory will increase Oklahoma’s competitiveness in sensor technology research and accelerate the development of spin-off companies in many emerging fields. Tulsa Community College will use its new Biotechnology and Health Services Learning Center to ensure graduates will be highly qualified biotechnology technicians.

Information Technology
New programs and the expansion of current programs will be taking shape at Cameron University, that, among other things, will be integrating “hard” and “soft” skills in information technology programs. Rose State College will be expanding its cybersecurity and computer networking training program, and Murray State College is looking at ways of taking the IT "fast-track” program to new levels.

Education and social services
Northeastern State University currently prepares the most teachers in the state. With enrollment growing on all three of NSU’s campuses, additional faculty will be needed to meet the demand for additional classes, advisement and supervision. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College hopes to expand its early childhood education lab into a fully licensed day care facility to offer students more essential hands-on training. Langston University’s developing mission of urban education promotes a research-based approach which results in significant educational gains for its students. Restoration of a master’s degree in teaching is among the outcomes that could result from expansion of Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Teacher Education Regional Teaching Center.

To meet the growing demand for a wide range of social services, Northwestern Oklahoma State University is looking to expand its program offerings and is seeking accreditation from the National Council of Social Work. The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma will be exploring ways to enhance its deaf education undergraduate program.

Advancement in agriculture and environmental resources
Agriculture accounts for approximately 17 percent of the state’s workforce, and a number of Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have innovative agriculture programs. Connors State College’s new horticulture program now boasts its first graduates, and plans for additional greenhouse facilities are being developed. A private/public partnership between the DeLaval organization and Redlands Community College will establish a facility that will train technicians around the world on the latest dairy science technologies. Western Oklahoma State College hopes to expand their grant writing efforts to leverage more funding for local economic development, particularly from the USDA.

Carl Albert State College is proposing an expansion of its water treatment management program to offer more associate in applied science degree opportunities to the workers in eastern Oklahoma.

Continued investment in research at the University of Oklahoma’s Weather Center will allow for the development of radar research and development that could lead to commercial applications.

Demand for Higher Education Continues to Be High
The word is out – a college degree is the pathway to success! So, it’s not surprising that college enrollment in Oklahoma is high. And, that enrollment is turning into college degrees, with the number of degrees increasing by 1,000 each year for the past three years.

Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities continue to be among the most affordable in the region and nation. Resident tuition and fees at our two research universities are lowest among the public universities in the Big 12. Oklahoma’s regional universities are ranked 11th and the community colleges are 13th among the nation’s most affordable institutions. (Source: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2004)

Recent changes in tuition have been necessary, in large part, because of increases in enrollment and lower levels of per-student state appropriations.

Enrollment in Oklahoma Public Colleges and Universities
1999-00: 209,559
2000-01: 213,972
2001-02: 220,768
2002-03: 228,249
2003-04: 234,873

Legislative agenda continued