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March 23 , 2006 :: Colleges Can Now Begin Filling Endowed Chairs After Matches Approved

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The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education today approved matching funds of $56.1 million for 215 endowed chairs, professorships and lectureships that are waiting to be filled on Oklahoma’s college campuses.

Most of the proceeds for the match come from the $50 million endowed chairs bond issue that legislators authorized in 2004. The bond issue was held up for more than a year before the Oklahoma Supreme Court validated it last December. The remaining matching funds come from FY2006 state appropriations.

The State Regents also allocated $17.2 million in accrued interest for accounts that have been waiting for a match as far back as 2000.

“Our institutions, and obviously those individuals who have made large financial contributions for endowed chairs and professorships, are pleased that the State Regents can now match many of those accounts that have been idle,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “The Endowed Chairs Program enables our colleges and universities to place highly qualified professors in the classroom and research laboratories, which benefits our students and also helps our state leaders attract new business and industry to Oklahoma.”

State Regents’ Chairman Cheryl P. Hunter praised the efforts that led to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legality of the endowed chairs bond issue.

“If the justices had not ruled in favor of the endowed chairs bond issue, our institutions would have fallen even further behind in their ability to attract top faculty and researchers. I also think they would have certainly seen a decline in the number of large financial gifts from private donors.

“Even with the bond issue, we’re not totally caught up in our matches. But we are hopeful that our legislators will continue to demonstrate their support for the program,” Hunter said.

Accounts at 18 colleges and universities within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education will receive the matches or increases to existing accounts, led by the University of Oklahoma, Norman, with 72 accounts; the OU Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, with 60; and Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, with 32.

In order for an endowed chair at OU or OSU to be eligible for the dollar-for-dollar match, the donation must be at least $500,000; a donation for a professorship must be at least $250,000. For the regional universities and community colleges, an endowed chair donation must be at least $250,000 to be eligible for matching funds, while donations for professorships and lectureships must be at least $125,000 and $25,000, respectively. Lectureships at OU and OSU are not eligible for matching funds.

With today’s approval, the program now boasts 599 endowed chairs, professorships and lectureships on 24 campuses.

State Regents have allocated more than $162.7 million since the program’s inception in 1988.