CU initiatives planned and budget approved for 2015-2016

Cameron University’s governing board reviewed major university initiatives for the upcoming year and approved an annual budget of over $50 million for Fiscal Year 2016 during its regularly scheduled meeting today in Norman. The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Board of Regents approved a $50,815,526 operating budget with more than $38 million for student instruction, academic support, student scholarships and student services during the upcoming academic year.

“The university received a $762,432 decrease in Cameron’s state appropriation, and mandatory costs are expected to increase approximately $300,000 this year,” says President John McArthur. “While we have little control over our state appropriation or increases in mandatory costs, we can control how we utilize our state appropriation and other revenue streams. Judicious planning and strict financial oversight have allowed us to develop a budget that will allow Cameron to continue providing stellar academic and student support at an outstanding value.” 

The FY16 budget reflects Cameron’s commitment to increasing and improving student success and student learning inside and outside the classroom while continuing to be an engaged partner with common education, business, industry, civic and government organizations.

Effective with the Fall 2015 semester, undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees will increase $8 per credit hour or 4.5 percent. To help offset the impact of the tuition increase on students, Cameron will increase funding for scholarships and other financial support. Resident tuition waivers and university scholarships will increase five percent to more than $2.5 million in academic year 2015-2016.

Despite the tuition increase, Cameron will remain one of the most affordable universities in Oklahoma and across the nation. According to data reported in the U.S. News and World Reports "Best Colleges 2015," Cameron is among the top five percent of 620 like universities across the nation in terms of students graduating with low debt. Specifically, 56 percent of Cameron’s students completing their entire degree at Cameron in 2014 graduated without any debt. The university remains committed to maintaining its low debt load among graduates by continuing to offer significant financial assistance to students. Additionally, The College Board reports that the national average for in-state tuition and fees for public, four-year institutions is $9,139 per year. Cameron’s FY16 rate of $5,580 for 30 credit hours is considerably less.

Cameron’s administrative expenses at 9.0 percent of all expenses are significantly lower than the administrative cost guideline of 13 percent for regional universities established by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. The university continues its commitment to maximizing the portion of the budget allocated to instruction, academic support, student services, and student scholarships while minimizing the portion of the budget used by administrative departments.

“Cameron remains committed to maximizing learning opportunities for our students,” says President McArthur. “Cameron’s innovative faculty and staff play a significant role in the university’s ability to maintain quality academic standards and student support in the face of continued budget challenges. The ambitious plans for this year are great examples of our continued commitment to student success.”

Initiatives for the academic year are closely aligned with the university core values and ambitious goals in “Plan 2018: Values Driven, Action Oriented.” The initiatives summarized below are grouped by the themes of Access, Affordability, Accountability, Attainment and Engagement. Each reflect the university’s commitment to impact every student on campus.

Access: Initiatives aimed at improving the new student experience include a “front door” initiative to improve service and convenience, a summer boot camp to assist new students with academic preparation for college level courses, and the addition of “freshman only” courses taught by specifically selected and trained faculty and staff to support students as they transition to the university environment.

Affordability: Initiatives focused on ensuring students are financially capable of completing a degree at Cameron include increased scholarship support, maintenance of competitive tuition and fee as well as room and board rates, increased communication to student borrowers about their loans, and additional counseling and financial support for students with strong academic performance who are behind on the path to timely graduation.   

Accountability: Initiatives aimed at ensuring responsible stewardship of university resources on behalf of students, employees and community include continuing the upgrade and maintenance of technological resources, market-based entry level faculty salary adjustments, improved energy usage as required by state mandate, and continued maintenance of accreditation, accessibility and certifications.  

Attainment: Actions aimed at assisting each student in meeting his or her aspirational educational goals include additional staff to serve entering transfer students, evaluating new students for psychosocial attributes and providing appropriate resources to assist students in achieving success in college, designing and implementing a four-year degree completion initiative program, and continuing to provide engaging and effective facilities for student learning.

Engagement: Initiatives to support engagement by students and employees in the communities we serve includes the opening a Psychology Counseling Clinic to provide supervised instruction and experiential learning to students while serving a need in the community. Additionally, the university will join the Oklahoma Manufacturers Alliance in support of Cameron’s engineering program and increase funding in support of the Student Civic Engagement Mini-Grant program.

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June 24, 2015

PR#15-118