Cameron University’s governing board reviewed major university initiatives for the upcoming year and approved an annual budget of over $49 million for Fiscal Year 2013 during its regularly scheduled meeting today in Ardmore. The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Board of Regents approved a $49,070,497 operating budget with almost $34 million for student instruction, scholarships and student services during the upcoming academic year. Cameron’s state allocation is $21.6 million, flat from the previous year.
“This fall, Cameron University will begin the 2012-13 academic year building on a decade of unprecedented progress and growth,” says Cameron President Cindy Ross. “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.”
As noted in the newly released “Plan 2013 Status Report,” four years into the five-year strategic plan, Cameron has accomplished each of the ambitious goals and the majority of the objectives set forth in “Plan 2013.”
As evidenced by three years of back-to-back historic enrollment growth, Cameron University has achieved the distinction of becoming the “University of Choice.” With the addition of the Student Wellness Center, updating of student housing and new athletic facilities, major steps have been taken to foster a traditional collegiate environment, providing our students the “College Experience of Choice.” Over $60 million in construction, much of it completed during the past four years, has resulted in Cameron becoming the “Location of Choice.” Due to Cameron’s steadfast support of the military and Fort Sill as well as a commitment to economic and business development, the university has earned the distinction of being the “Partner of Choice.”
“As we look toward the future and the development of Cameron’s third strategic plan, ‘Plan 2018,’ it is important that the progress to date be solidified and enhanced,” says Ross. “Now is the time to take the university to greater heights, achieve new records, initiate other historic firsts, and set the standard for other regional universities for a top quality education at an affordable price. In this FY13 budget, we are doing just that. The upcoming academic year builds on Cameron’s ten-year transformation and promises that the best is yet to come.”
The FY13 budget focuses on providing students access to a top-quality education and improving student services. Among the specific academic initiatives included in the budget is the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan to meet the goals of Complete College America (CCA), a national initiative committed to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. Specific initiatives related to this important goal include the initiation of a “Top 30 Courses Project” aimed at improving student learning, retention and graduation; providing modified block tuition for qualifying students to increase financial support and reduce student costs; implementing peer tutoring for eligible students; increasing communication and collaboration between high school teachers and university faculty; and implementing a study skills intervention course for students experiencing academic difficulty.
In addition, Cameron will offer an enhanced learning environment through the development of new academic programs and the creation of the Office of Academic Enrichment, which will grow the Honors Program, Study Abroad Program and Undergraduate Research Program.
“As evidenced in this budget, Cameron’s commitment to student learning is unwavering,” says Ross. “Each initiative reflects the university’s commitment to impact every student by maximizing the budget to increase the number and improve the quality of programs and services offered.”
Effective with the Fall 2013 semester, undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees will increase 3.9 percent to $159 per hour, a $6 per hour increase. A full-time, resident undergraduate student taking 15 hours per semester will pay an additional $180 for one academic year. Cameron University will solidify its place as the second most affordable university in Oklahoma. Additionally, for FY13, Cameron University’s tuition and fees for 30 credit hours is 20.2 percent less than its out-of-state peer institutions.
Offsetting the additional cost to students are increased scholarships and other financial support. Resident tuition waivers and university scholarships will increase by six percent over last year, surpassing the $2 million mark for the first time. During the past four years, Cameron has received more than $1.5 million in private funds for student scholarships. For four consecutive years, Cameron has received national recognition for its commitment to affordability, last year ranking third in the nation among 626 universities with students graduating with low debt. Specifically, 68 percent of Cameron’s students graduate without any debt.
In addition to the increase in scholarship support, 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, 48 percent of the circulation in the library is attributed to this program. Additionally, the textbook rental program has saved Cameron students over $800,000 since it started less than two years ago.
- 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, 47 students received more than $153,000 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, 15 veteran students received more than $48,000 through this partnership. For the 2012-13 academic year, Cameron will expand the program to provide this benefit to an unlimited number of qualified veterans.
- Support for Military Spouses
Provides support for military spouses through the Military Spouse Career Advancement Financial Assistance Program. This year, 15 students received more than $27,000 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, 12 students received more than $2,700 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 sixth year for Cameron to offer this program. Since its inception in 2007, 406 students have participated and received additional support of $304,411 from the Cameron Gold program.
Other initiatives for the upcoming year include:
- Renovation of the CU Fitness Center, adding classes, services, and longer hours of operation
- Expansion of the Intramural Program to double the number of sports offered
- Initiation of a “Pickaxe Pass” to encourage student campus engagement in a variety of activities
- Initiation of a Single Mothers Academic Resource Team (SMART) to provide emotional and educational support to single parents through mentoring programs and life-skills workshops
- Designation of Freshman Housing
- Renovation of two floors in Shepler Towers
- Open newly constructed Academic Commons
- Completion of the McMahon Field and Athletics Center
- Construct 27th Street parking lot and install crosswalks
- Develop a pre-engineering program in support of area defense contractors.
Cameron’s strategic planning will also continue with the development of a new five-year strategic plan, “Plan 2018” and completion of “Campus Master Plan 2025.”
“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 Ross.
June 26, 2012