CU initiatives planned and budget approved for 2016-2017

Cameron University’s governing board reviewed major university initiatives for the upcoming year and approved an annual budget of $46 million for Fiscal Year 2017 during its regularly scheduled meeting today in Norman. The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Board of Regents approved a $46,448,783 operating budget with more than $34 million earmarked for student instruction, academic support, student scholarships and tuition waivers, and student services during the upcoming academic year.

The FY 2017 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 and career education, business, industry, civic and government organizations.

“The university received a $3,353,912 decrease in its state appropriation, and mandatory costs are expected to increase approximately $589,000 this year,” says President John McArthur. “We have prepared for FY 2017 by making drastic reductions in personnel and operating costs. Still, reduced state support has resulted in a greater reliance on revenue from student tuition and fees. Our state appropriation for FY 2017 will account for just 38.1 percent of the university’s revenue and is more than $5.4 million less than the state appropriation from FY 2009. The significant reduction in the state allocation and uncertain economic outlook in the state are two of the university’s primary concerns for FY 2017 and future years.”

Overall, university expenditures will decrease by $4,366,743 from FY 2016, an 8.59 percent decrease. The decrease is the net result of elimination of 66 faculty and staff positions and savings achieved through reorganization of various academic and administrative departments.  

Effective with the Fall 2016 semester, undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees will increase $13 per credit hour or 7 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 2.4 percent to more than $2.6 million in academic year 2016-2017.

The increased in mandatory fees will provide an additional $100,000 in support of student technology on campus and an additional $100,000 in support of student activities.

Despite the tuition increase, Cameron will remain one of the most affordable universities in Oklahoma and across the nation. The university is consistently recognized in U.S. News and World Reports “Best Colleges” for its commitment to affordability.  The university remains committed to maintaining its low debt load among graduates by continuing to offer significant financial assistance to students.

In comparison to peer institutions in the surrounding states, Cameron’s tuition and fee rates are 84 percent of their rates. Additionally, The College Board reports that the national average for in-state tuition and fees for public, four-year institutions is $9,410 per year. Cameron’s FY 2017 rate of $5,970 for 30 credit hours is considerably less.

Cameron’s administrative expenses at 9.6 percent of all expenses is well below 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 and tuition waivers while minimizing the portion of the budget used by administrative departments.

The commitment of prior year educational and general reserve funds in the amount of $122,206 is required to meet budgeted mandatory costs increases and other initiatives.  It is anticipated that some of the committed reserves will be recaptured by not filling or by delaying filling of certain open positions and through spending restraint by Cameron’s faculty and staff.  The projected, unobligated reserve balance for June 30, 2017 is $3,460,432, or 7.45 percent of budgeted annual expenditures and 8.32 percent of budgeted annual expenditures net of tuition waivers.

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.

Cameron will increase access through initiatives aimed at providing high school graduates and transfer students from southwest Oklahoma and beyond the opportunity for a college education, including improved marketing and advertising, expanded outreach for prospective students and improved support for entering students.

Affordability initiatives focus on maintaining quality learning experiences for a modest financial outlay by managing costs and by providing outstanding opportunities for financial assistance. These include the development and implementation of a “last dollar” tuition-only assistance program for any graduate of a Lawton public high school, identifying alternative funding to replace cuts in State funding for student programs, increasing student scholarships and tuition waivers, maintaining competitive tuition and mandatory fee rates, and maintaining competitive housing and board costs for resident students.

Cameron continues to be accountable by ensuring responsible stewardship of university resources on behalf of students, employees and our community, including facilitation of campus adjustment to budget related organizational structure changes, beginning the next five year strategic plans, responding to external regulation and policies including changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, improving employee onboarding and professional development, and providing engaging and effective facilities, grounds, and signage.

Attainment initiatives are aimed at assisting each student in meeting his or her aspirational educational goals for a degree, certificate or course completion, including the expansion of Reverse Transfer and Articulation Agreements with area schools, development and implementation of a Cameron degree completion commitment for Summer 2017,  degree completion scholarships to part-time students with an emphasis on working adults, conducting a First Four Weeks project as part of the Higher Learning Commission Persistence and Completion Academy with the intent to increase campus engagement among and between students, staff, and faculty.

Finally, engagement initiatives support our students, our employees and our communities for the educational, cultural, and economic advancement of southwest Oklahoma and beyond. These include initial planning for Academic Festival X, development and implementation of a Planned Giving Program, planning and executing a donor trip to raise funds for student travel opportunities, and meeting or exceeding annual friendraising and fundraising goals for facilities, endowed faculty positions, and growth of the Annual Fund.

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June 21, 2016

PR#16-115