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October 28, 2005 :: Capital Bond Funds Headed To Campuses

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The $475 million higher education capital bond issue completed the last procedural step Thursday, and Oklahoma public institutions can expect to begin receiving funds by the end of the year.

On Thursday, the Council of Bond Oversight gave its approval to the higher education bond issue. With the Council's action, the first two series of bonds totaling approximately $350 million are expected to sell in mid-November. The remaining $125 million in bonds will be sold later.

“The leadership shown by Governor Brad Henry, the Legislature, our college and university presidents and our regents is really paying off,” said Chancellor Paul Risser. “The state’s commitment to higher education couldn’t be more clear. Oklahoma is ready to meet the education needs of the new century, and this investment places us in a better position to attract companies and new jobs.”

The bonds will be sold by the financial team led by UBS Financial Services, Inc. Bonds are usually sold to investors the day they are offered. It is expected that Oklahoma’s 25 public higher education institutions will begin receiving funds soon after the sale. Because of the backlog of capital needs and the planning done by institutions, a majority of the money is expected to be spent within the next two years.

“This is a day to celebrate,” said State Regents Chairman Cheryl Hunter. “This goes beyond just brick and mortar. It is the beginning of a new era of innovation and increased academic excellence on our campuses. When the state system works together toward a common goal, great things happen.”

The largest higher education capital bond issue in the history of the state of Oklahoma was signed into law by Gov. Henry in March of this year. The $475 million for construction and $25 million bond bank will allow the state’s colleges and universities to better meet the needs of more than 235,000 students. The funds will be used to expand and update labs, classrooms and basic campus infrastructure like heating, cooling and access.

The five-member Council of Bond Oversight is responsible for the review and approval of all financing requests by state agencies, authorities, departments and trusts. The Council consists of the director of the Office of State Finance, two members appointed by the governor, one member appointed by the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and one member appointed by the president pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.

The members of the council are: Cliff Elliott, chairman; Dr. Joe Wiley, vice chairman; Pam Williams, secretary; Claudia San Pedro and Robert Holland Jr.