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Charge to Citizens' Commission  

Oklahoma higher education has made great progress in recent years in meeting the needs of the citizens of the state.

Working in partnership with the public schools and the vocational-technical system, Oklahoma institutions are deeply committed to advancing a common agenda for the state: improved quality of life through the power of education. But much remains to be done, and it is time to consider the future.

State higher education is an extensive and complex system that must now position itself for a new century. Because many of the characteristics of the 21st century are unknown or imperfectly understood, there is no single detailed plan of action that is appropriate for this system.

Rather, the challenge is to develop approaches that will provide incentives and flexibility for higher education to achieve excellence while responding effectively to changing market and technological conditions.

Five areas of concern are emphasized as the Citizens' Commission examines potential futures for Oklahoma higher education and sets a vision for the next century.

How can incentives and standards be developed to further improve student preparation? How can students be qualified to prosper in rapidly changing work environments? How can institutions and their graduates contribute to the quality of the state's economic, civic and cultural life?

How can access to college be maintained with limited growth in state government funding, constrained family budgets and shifting demographics? How can the system enhance economic opportunity for all through the power of education?

What initiatives - including incentives for creative management - can be developed to enhance institutional efficiency and effectiveness?

What are the system's goals and what measures can be used to chart progress toward goals? Where are there gaps between goals and current levels of achievement?

How can adequate funding be obtained and how should costs be borne efficiently and equitably by students, state taxpayers and other sources?

Examining these concerns is the responsibility of Oklahomans, and that is the reason for establishing the Citizens' Commission.

Guidelines developed by the commission will become the touchstone against which policymakers will measure their recommendations for higher education.

Ultimately, the effort will assure that higher education becomes a major source of competitive advantage for Oklahoma in the 21st century.

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Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.