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Oklahoma State University

OSU: providing value to Oklahoma for 125 years

By Burns Hargis

The cost of a college degree is a hot topic across the country and it should be. Our nation and our state need more college graduates, and we must make sure a degree is attainable and affordable for all who are willing and able to earn it. Now is the time for business, political, community and educational leaders to work together to that end. 

The benefits of a college degree are well documented. College graduates earn more in a lifetime, have lower unemployment rates, are more involved and give more back to their communities, and the list goes on. Low college attainment threatens Oklahoma’s competitiveness as we strive to attract and retain high quality jobs while developing our own entrepreneurs.

Since it was established on Christmas Day 1890, 125 years ago, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students over those 125 years. This past year, OSU conferred nearly 5,800 degrees, the most in one year in university history. We have made affordability and student success our top priorities. 

Various national publications recognize OSU for the value we provide students. We are one of the best buys in the Big 12 Conference. And, compared to other land-grant universities, OSU’s in-state tuition and mandatory fees are 30 percent below the national average.

Student growth has helped us hold down the cost of an OSU degree. This month we welcomed 4,200 new freshmen, our second largest freshman class in history. Over the last five-year period (2010-14), OSU has grown by 2,300 students, the largest increase of any public university in Oklahoma.

Our Branding Success Campaign raised $1.2 billion in funds and pledges, providing key income and helping increase our endowment earnings.

Thanks to the creativity and hard work of our employees, we also have addressed the cost side of the balance sheet through savings, efficiencies and productivity.

With increases in enrollment we have added faculty to keep pace, but our total staffing to student ratio has declined by five percent since 2011. We have also added facilities and equipment to support our educational and research missions. 

Our energy management program has been a model for the state and beyond. Through the behavioral-focused program we have saved nearly $33 million in costs and reduced energy consumption by nearly 20 percent since July 2007. Our wind farm with OG&E has saved more than 70 percent on electricity. And, a new work order system uses mobile technology to respond quicker and get more done across campus.

Additionally, our move to a self-insured health plan has provided significant savings, allowing us to keep premiums flat two of the last three years. We have consolidated our savings plans to improve service and efficiency.

As the discussion continues on the affordability and value of higher education, you can be sure that Oklahoma State University remains committed to providing both to our students and Oklahoma.

Burns Hargis is President of Oklahoma State University