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March 23, 2017 - State Regents Form Task Force to Study the Future of Higher Education in Oklahoma

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At their meeting today, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced the formation of a task force to consider ways to improve degree completion and increase productivity by focusing on modernization, efficiencies and innovation. State Regents’ Chair John Massey and Chancellor Glen D. Johnson presented the task force structure, mission and goals, noting the connection between degree completion and economic prosperity, growth, and vibrancy.

“Higher education has never been more critical to the future of our state than it is now,” said John Massey, Chair of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. “As we know far too well, our state faces considerable budget challenges spurred by revenue shortfalls the past two years. In this time of financial pressure and budget constraints, we believe it is imperative we take a fresh look at our operational structure, administrative practices and productivity initiatives, including the prospects of greater shared services to optimize performance and productivity. We know this will be a work in progress, but we believe a systematic examination will render suggested approaches to produce more graduates without sacrificing educational quality in today’s fiscally challenging circumstances. As Regents, we are steadfast in our commitment to expand accessibility, maintain affordability, and continue producing graduates capable of ensuring Oklahoma is economically competitive.”

The task force is charged to examine every aspect of system operations, including academic models, such as program and faculty sharing and targeted degree completion initiatives; online education models; structure; fiscal services and operational efficiencies; workforce development; and information technology to ensure they are properly aligned and defined to best serve the students and state.

“I appreciate the foresight of the State Regents to move forward with this initiative, which we believe is the most important undertaking in Oklahoma higher education in three decades,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “As a system, we must consider ways to improve college degree completion in Oklahoma within the current fiscal context. Increasing the number of college graduates is critical to individual financial prosperity and to strengthening our state’s economic outlook. We are confident that this task force will produce initiatives to boost excellence, productivity and efficiency.”

Dr. William Kirwan, Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland, will serve as lead advisor to the task force. Dr. Kirwan is a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges and serves as chair of the National Research Council Board of Higher Education and Workforce and co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. He previously served as president of The Ohio State University and the University of Maryland, and is a board member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, and Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, among other organizations. An international speaker and respected author on several key higher education issues, including access, affordability, innovation, economic development and academic transformation, Dr. Kirwan holds baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics.