WOSC programs,personnel cut;tuition increased

Special to the Altus Times

Officials announced Thursday measures to balance the Western Oklahoma State College budget in fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, following a shortfall of revenue from the state.

The WOSC Board of Regents met for a regular meeting 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Higher Learning Center at the college, approving the personnel reduction in force of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, a 12.5 percent tuition increase, deletion of the Collegiate Officer Program that has been suspended since 2013; suspension of the Radiologic Technology Associate Program and moving the Behavioral Science Program completely online.

According to minutes from the meeting, Dr. Phil Birdine, WOSC president, introduced guests in attendance who included: Lisa Greenlee, vice president for Academic Affairs; Tricia Latham, vice president for Business Affairs; Chad Wiginton, vice president for Student Support Services; Jacque Bellamy, faculty Senate chair; Melissa Smith, staff Senate chair; Katie Brewer, staff Senate chair-elect; Chrystal Overton, dean of Technical Education; Briar Jenkins, secretary to the president, and Judith Meyer, director of Public Information.

Jacque Bellamy reported that the faculty Senate met for its last meeting for the academic year in May. Final business included assigning faculty to chair positions and committees. She also expressed faculty concern for the present state budget. Bellamy concluded with news of faculty initiatives regarding enhanced focus on student advisement to further aid in degree completion and the exploration of grant monies to support academic programs. Melissa Smith and Katie Brewer presented a proposal regarding the approval of revisions to the staff senate constitution. The revisions include chair, chair-elect, and secretary term updates. The addition of two new sub-committees, Staff Pride, charged to help at WOSC events, and Campus Kudos, responsible for celebrating staff accomplishments on campus, were also included. Smith also reported that the staff Senate has suspended its meetings for summer months and will reconvene in August. The board voted on and approved the revised constitution.

The consent docket containing the April 12, 2016, regular meeting minutes and the expenditure comparison report were voted on and approved by the board.

Tricia Latham presented revisions to the college’s master plan. Annually, all state agencies submit a five-year capital improvement plan or CAP to the state budget system. Included are any capital projects totaling at least $25,000 with a useful life of at least five years. This year’s revisions attempt to anticipate future needs in roofing, heating and air conditioning, vehicles, etc., for which costs are estimated and incorporated into the CAP. For fiscal year 2017 the request is for nine projects totaling $6,863,999. The board voted on and approved the master plan.

Latham continued with a proposal to increase tuition for the fiscal year 2017 academic year. The proposal represents a 12.5 percent increase which will equate to $13.75 per credit hour for a total of $123.70 per credit hour tuition and mandatory fees. The increase will go into effect for the fall 2016 semester and will have a total impact on revenue of $311,713. The board voted on and approved the tuition increase.

Lisa Greenlee presented a proposal to include a new degree option in Agriculture Business within the Agriculture Associate of Science degree. She reported that the faculty in the Agriculture department consulted with four year institutions to ensure transferability. The board voted on and approved the degree option.

Greenlee also proposed the deletion of the Collegiate Officer Program Option under the Criminal Justice Associate in Applied Science degree. The option was suspended in 2013, and per Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education or OSRHE, any option or programs suspended must either be reinstated or deleted after a three-year period. The board voted on and approved deletion of the option.

Greenlee continued with a proposal to suspend the Radiologic Technology Associate in Applied Science degree. The college is unable to continue to fund the program due to the expense to maintain the program and due to the current state of Oklahoma’s budget and the subsequent effects on Western’s budget. She requested that the program be suspended for two years to allow the college to teach out the second year program students for spring 2017, as well as the students who are being admitted for the fall 2016 semester. These students will complete in the spring 2018 semester. At that point, if additional funding is not secured for the program, a request for the program’s deletion will be made. The board voted on and approved the suspension of the program. Greenlee then presented a request to offer the Associate of Arts Degree in Behavioral Science completely online. It is hoped that the online option will help grow the program and aid in retention of existing students. The board voted on approved the online degree.

Greenlee introduced Chrystal Overton who requested the annual renewal of the flight training agreement between the college and Red River Flight Academy. No changes were required in the contract other than the amending of dates to reflect the upcoming fiscal year. The board voted on and approved the request for renewal.

Birdine presented the president’s report and recommendations. Birdine read a thank-you note from the Dewesse family, expressing their appreciation to the board of regents on behalf of the WOSC Foundation Inc., that sent the family a sympathy card and flowers after the death of a family member.

Birdine concluded with an explanation of the college’s reduction in force or RIF procedure for personnel changes to be presented at the meeting. Per the procedure, the rationale for a recommended RIF must be presented when needed. Factors for the RIF are declining state appropriations, state revenue failures, the need to maximize remaining resources, and the need to maintain fund balances that comply with OSRHE standards.

The board moved into executive session for more than an hour and reconvened for the approval of the personnel retirement of Mickey Graham, history instructor; the personnel resignations of Donda Roach, Upward Bound director; April Dill, counselor; Don Scroggins, biology instructor and the personnel employments of Terri Pearson, Upward Bound director and Brenda Straub, English instructor.

The board also approved the recommendation of tenure for Pia Bauer and Elizabeth Greenwood and the personnel reduction in force of Jeri Dulaney, dean of Arts and Sciences.

Tricia Latham then presented request for approval of the fiscal year 2017 budget that was prepared through a campuswide effort channeled through the Executive Committee by the vice presidents of the various divisions.

Six budgets were presented to include the following: E and G budget of $9,822,141; E and G II budget of $2, 938,139; 700 fund budget of $12,000,000; 789 fund budget of $10,000,000; student activities budget of $128,000; capital budget of $1,599,083 and the auxiliary services budget of $1,009,500. Latham reviewed brief reports, statements, summaries, and back up details used to develop the budget. She also pointed out several items incorporated into the budget to help minimize the impact of the fiscal year 2017 deficit, and the fiscal year 2017 state appropriation cut of 15.9 percent. Those items include elimination of five faculty positions and one administrative position; staff reductions to part-time status, reductions in travel, supply, and other operating budgets, as well as added revenue from Great Plains Technology Center to support WOSC’s radiologic technology program for the next two years, and an increase in tuition for fiscal year 2017. Latham also noted a debt service shortfall of approximately $32,000 that WOSC will have to absorb due to state revenue failure. The board voted on and approved the budget.

The board concluded business with the election of board officers for fiscal year 2017. Cindy Clayton will be the regent chair. Brent Howard will be the vice chair and Scott Northrip will be the board secretary.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the WOSC Board of Regents is 7:30 pm. Aug. 16 in the Higher Learning Center at the college.

Special to the Altus Times

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