Cameron University’s governing board reviewed major university initiatives for the upcoming year and approved an annual budget of nearly $47 million for Fiscal Year 2012 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 $46,841,415 operating budget with more than $32 million allotted for student instruction, scholarships and student services during the upcoming academic year.
“Cameron University will continue its pace-setting record of progress in spite of repeated state funding cuts,” says Cameron President Cindy Ross. “Through comprehensive planning, program prioritization, prudent budgeting and tough decision-making, we remain committed to providing students a top-quality education and complete collegiate experience. Our strategic planning process enables us to provide access to a top-quality education and improved student services by optimizing a shrinking budget.”
Academic year 2010-11 was one of the best years in Cameron’s impressive 102-year history. Most notable among its accomplishments, Cameron achieved an unconditional affirmation of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, with the Commission noting that Cameron University is a “role model institution” with “student learning at the center of what it does” and “despite significant statewide budget cuts, the institution was able to redesign itself to meet changing student needs.”
Additionally, Cameron achieved the highest enrollment in its history, with more than 6,300 students making Cameron their “University of Choice.” To help students succeed, several new student services were added, including an Academic Advising Center and Student Wellness Center.
These considerable accomplishments were achieved during a time of reduced state support. During the past three years, Cameron’s state funding has stair-stepped downward, resulting in a decline of more than $1.7 million (-7.6 percent). The pattern of historically low state funding continues into FY 2012 with a 5.8 percent reduction in funding.
“As the dramatic history of state funding cuts continues, we are once more forced to identify areas where we can reduce spending,” says President Ross. “Through reallocation of existing resources, a modest tuition and mandatory fee increase, increased private support, and use of reserve funds, we have maximized the portion of the budget allocated to instruction, academic support and student services. We refuse to compromise the quality of education that Cameron students need and deserve.”
The coming academic year builds on Cameron’s nine-year transformation and promises that the best is yet to come. Cameron is positioned to lead the state’s regional universities in academic and student support and to reach the ambitious goals detailed in “Plan 2013: Choices for the Second Century.”
“Cameron’s commitment to student learning is unwavering,” says President Ross. “This year’s scarce dollars will be used to focus on maximizing resources to provide students access to a top-quality education and to provide improved student services. As always, student learning is at the heart of our mission.”
Major reallocation efforts have been made among academic programs. The Department of Multimedia Design will be merged with the Department of Computing and Technology, and some of the faculty will be reassigned to support the high demand Organizational Leadership program as well as the Physical Sciences Department.
Effective with the Fall 2012 semester, undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees will increase 5.88 percent to $153 per hour, an $8.50 per hour increase. A full-time, resident undergraduate student will pay an additional $102 per semester. There will be no increase in academic service fees.
Offsetting the additional cost to students are increased scholarships and other financial support. Resident tuition waivers and university scholarships will increase by seven percent over last year – an 18 percent increase over the past three years and a 156 percent increase in the past 10 years. Additionally, private scholarship support has increased an astounding 189 percent in the past eight years. Finally, opportunities for student employment will be expanded, and the minimum wage for student workers will be increased from $7.25 to $7.50 an hour.
Despite the increase in tuition and fees, Cameron University remains the second-most affordable of Oklahoma’s universities. Cameron University continues to be a great value. For FY 2012, Cameron University’s tuition and fees for 30 credit hours is almost 20 percent less than that at Oklahoma’s regional peer institutions.
In addition to the increase in scholarship support and student employment opportunities, Cameron will continue to offer CU $upports You, a comprehensive student assistance program implemented in 2009. CU $upports You features the following programs:
- Check It Out Books
Makes textbooks for general education classes and other popular courses available for check out through the Cameron University Library. Currently, 44 percent of the circulation in the library is attributed to this program
- Tuition Payment Plan
Allows students to pay tuition and fees in four installments during the semester and avoid being placed on an enrollment hold for the following semester.
- Displaced Worker Assistance
In cooperation with the South Central Oklahoma Workforce Investment Board and the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG), area Workforce Development Offices, and Oklahoma Employment and Securities Commission, Cameron works to assist displaced workers in returning to school with additional financial support. This year, 80 students received more than $283,000 of support.
- Yellow Ribbon Program for Veterans
A partnership with the United States Veterans Administration that provides support to veterans eligible for Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. This year, 17 veteran students received almost $15,000.
- Support for Military Spouses
Provides support for military spouses through the Military Spouse Career Advancement Financial Assistance Program. This year, 108 students received $181,780 in assistance.
- Emergency Loan Program
Provides students with short-term loans to assist with unexpected expenses and allows them to continue their studies. This year, 14 students received $4,025 in support.
Cameron will also continue the “Cameron Gold” scholarship, which supplements “Oklahoma’s Promise,” also known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), to cover costs not covered by “Oklahoma’s Promise” such as fees and books. This will be the fifth year for Cameron to offer this program. Since its inception in 2007, 313 students have participated and received additional support of $234,254 from the Cameron Gold program.
“Keeping higher education affordable is a priority at Cameron University,” says President Ross. “For the past three years, Cameron has ranked nationally among the top three universities with our students graduating with the lowest debt. Specifically, 65 percent of our students graduate with no debt. This national ranking and the various financial support initiatives implemented in recent years speaks to Cameron’s commitment to keep a quality education affordable for all students.”
Other initiatives for the upcoming year include:
- Implementation of “The Cameron University Guarantee” for graduates entering the workforce
- Increased high-impact educational opportunities for students, including increased Study Abroad opportunities for students, expanded internship and career services programs, and growth of civic engagement opportunities and service learning
- Enhancements to the learning environment, including construction of the Academic Commons
- Implementation of the “Aggie Sharp Start” Learning Community for at-risk freshmen
- Expansion of automated student services, including implementation of DegreeWorks for academic advising, degree audit and credit transfer
- Creating non-credit and credit certificates in adult education with faculty experts teaching people to teach or train adults
Cameron’s strategic planning will also continue with the development of a four-year progress report on “Plan 2013: Choices for the Second Century”; development of a new five-year strategic plan, “Plan 2018”; and an updated Campus Master Plan.
“Consistent with Cameron’s theme, ‘Every Student. Every Story,’ these budget initiatives provide each student additional and exciting opportunities to write his or her own unique Cameron story,” says President Ross.
June 20, 2011