Cameron University’s governing board reviewed major initiatives for the university for the coming year and approved an annual budget of nearly $48 million for Fiscal Year 2011 during its regularly scheduled meeting today in Ardmore. The Board of Regents for The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University approved a $47,769,220 operating budget with $30 million allotted for student instruction and scholarships during the coming academic year.
During fiscal year 2010 Cameron experienced historic enrollment growth that outpaced all other universities in the state. While serving a 14 percentage growth in the number of students, more than 6,000, Cameron began the year with almost $1 million in budget reductions from the prior year and received nearly $1 million in additional cuts throughout the year. Considering the previous reductions and this year’s allocation, Cameron will begin this fiscal year, with state revenue down almost $2 million from two years ago and an additional reduction of 1.25 percent in state and federal stimulus support.
“This year’s budget is designed to ensure students at Cameron continue to receive a top quality education and services despite continued state budget reductions,” says Cameron President Cindy Ross. “Maintaining this commitment in the current economic climate is challenging, however through reallocation of existing resources, private contributions, and a modest tuition increase, Cameron promises to continue the progress of recent years.”
Undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees will increase 5.5 percent to $144.50 per credit hour, a $7.50 per hour increase. This represents a $90 per semester increase for full-time students taking 12 credit hours. As tuition and mandatory fees did not increase in FY2010, the increase for FY2011 reflects a two-year average of 2.75 percent.
Offsetting the additional cost to students are increased scholarships and other financial support. Resident tuition waivers and university scholarships will increase by 7 percent over last year – a two-year increase of more than 10 percent. Private scholarships will also increase 8 percent over last year - an impressive 37 percent increase over just two years. In addition, major initiatives from last year’s comprehensive student support program known as CU $upports You will be continued. The support includes a textbook check-out program known as Check it Out üBooks, participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program for Veterans, assistance for displaced workers, and an emergency loan program. Students will have a new textbook rental program this year to further reduce the cost of books.
“Cameron has received national recognition from the popular U.S. News and World Report’s ‘Best Colleges’ publication for the incredible value it represents in higher education,” says Ross. “The report ranks Cameron second in the nation out of 572 universities in terms of students graduating with the lowest debt, and that is a ranking we plan to maintain through our continued focus on keeping a Cameron education affordable.”
Through comprehensive planning, program prioritization, prudent budgeting, and making tough decisions, Cameron is positioned to lead the state’s regional universities in academic and student support and to reach the ambitious goals articulated in “Plan 2013: Choices for the Second Century.”
“Cameron’s commitment to student learning is unwavering,” says Ross. “This year’s scarce dollars will be spent to maximize student access to a top quality education and to provide improved student services as is evidenced by this year’s ambitious initiatives.”
Specific initiatives for the coming academic year include:
- Academic Distinction
“Plan 2013” includes building academic distinction in the disciplines of Communication, Criminal Justice, and Information Technology.
- Cameron will open a forensics laboratory to provide hands-on opportunities for students in Criminal Justice programs, who will receive practical experience with investigative tools and methods.
- Communication faculty will build on the great progress made in Convergence Journalism during the past two years. Additional portable technology tools, such as iPads, will be provided to journalism students to further their skills in integrating technology with print, broadcast, and web journalism.
- Plans are being finalized for the new Academic Commons that will be located in the space formerly housing the Student Union. The Academic Commons will provide a true convergence media center bringing together journalism, television, and web laboratories with faculty and classrooms in one location.
- The Department of Computing and Technology will open a simulation-training laboratory this fall. Partially supported by private funds including a significant gift from the Priddy Foundation, this laboratory will provide a state-of-the-art space for teams of students to design, program, and build virtual environments to assist others in the learning process.
- Attracting and Retaining High Quality Faculty and Staff
Key to Cameron’s top priority of student learning and being the “University of Choice” is the caliber and commitment of the faculty. The FY2011 budget includes multiple initiatives to attract and retain high quality faculty.
- Cameron’s unprecedented enrollment growth during the 2009-2010 academic year has resulted in the need for new faculty positions to support that growth. Six new instructor positions, a new assistant professor in Psychology, and a new chair of the Mathematical Sciences Department have been added to the list of full time faculty positions. The need for these positions is a reflection of the dramatic growth in first-year students.
- Two instructor positions, one in English and another in mathematics, will be assigned to CU-Duncan as the first full-time faculty at this location. CU-Duncan continues to grow each year, including an 18 percent increase in enrollment last year alone. The other faculty positions have been assigned to academic disciplines at CU-Lawton to meet the needs of students in the most commonly selected introductory courses.
- A new level of compensation for faculty promotions will be introduced over the next three years. As Cameron continues to increase standards and demands on the instructional faculty, this program will be implemented to recognize high quality performance.
- Cameron is also addressing needs identified in its faculty human resources plan, which is based on national data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources with particular emphasis on regional peer institutions. The plan recognizes differences based on academic rank, academic discipline, and market for establishing salary benchmarks. Select market adjustments will serve to maintain competitive balance to recruit and retain a diverse, high-quality faculty.
- Due to state budget cuts, there has not been a general raise program for Cameron’s dedicated faculty and staff in three years. With continued cuts, this budget does not include either a general salary increase or a traditional stipend for Cameron’s deserving employees. However, with the private funding support of the Cameron University Foundation, a small holiday/enrollment bonus is planned to recognize the commitment and quality work of the faculty and staff.
- Classroom Technology
Ten smart classrooms will be added to the 90 existing rooms to provide faculty members the tools necessary to enhance student learning. Smart classrooms bring the world into the classroom by providing access to maps, video clips, and sound recordings as well as adding interactivity to many disciplines.
- Academic Advising Center
Cameron will open an Academic Advising Center specifically for entering and at-risk students. The center will be staffed with professional advisors supported by trained faculty advisors. The center staff will oversee academic advising, skills assessment, study skills workshops, and the First Year Experience program.
- Wellness Center
In partnership with The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s Southwest Oklahoma Family Medicine Residency, Cameron will offer on-campus health care services beginning in the fall. Students of the Lawton campus will pay a $25 fee each semester for access to the Center’s services.
- Honors Program Support
- Cameron will increase financial support for the Honors Program with additional resources from the Cameron University Foundation and with a technology budget to provide personal information tools to each student in the program.
- In Fall 2010, the Cameron Exchange will open. The former Student Activities Building will be repurposed including the creation of an Honors Lounge. The Honors Lounge will contain an office for the Honors Program Director, an information center for external scholarships and study abroad opportunities, and an informal gathering place for seminars and discussion groups.
- Access to an Automated Degree Progress System
Cameron will provide students with access to Degree Works, a software module within the University’s new student/administrative system, which provides a comprehensive set of web-based academic advising, degree audit, and credit transfer tools to help students and advisors. The software package allows any student real time, electronic access to information about his or her progress toward a degree. This software will not only increase student awareness of progress toward degree completion, it will also provide improved oversight and accountability for academic advising. Implementation of Degree Works is a significant step toward availability of a complete array of online student services.
These initiatives reflect the mission of Cameron University - to keep students the top priority, increase the quality of education offered, and expand access to the dream of a college degree.
June 21, 2010