Fall Forum: Keeping the Oxygen Flowing
President Betz presents an award to Georgia Fiering, director of the Chesapeake Boathouse, at the 2016 Fall Forum. Photo by Eriech Tapia, The Vista.
Addressing faculty and staff from across the campus, the University of Central Oklahoma’s president and provost, Don Betz and John Barthell, gave news that the new year could present challenges, but he hoped for continual growth at the annual Fall Forum.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are seed society by educating citizens. Our enduring mandate is to riddle the society with quality, work ethic, and social for citizens,” said Don Betz, president of UCO. “You confirmed that the world is our classroom.”
Outlining deeper cuts to the university and hinting at a potential faculty reduction, Betz discussed a couple of further repercussions if state budget cuts continue for FY 17 during a forum in April of 2016.
“We have been able to do what we have so far due to this university team, to serve our students and fulfill our mission. That premise and that goal, I must tell you, will be challenged in FY 17, and very likely FY18, as the states investment in higher education continues acclimate,” Betz said.
Betz downplayed the budgetary issues and spoke on how the university hopes to grow and move towards a private-like institution.
“The financial and political realities have been sobering. I am truly disappointed at this year’s legislative session outcome … higher education had few champions in the chambers,” Betz said. “We, higher education, sustained the largest dollar cut in anyone’s memory.”
Despite the challenges, both Betz and Barthell said that the university will have to change due to the cuts, with the university receiving around 26 percent less from the state of Oklahoma.
“We are are an institution that really has had to practically reinvent itself as a result of last year’s impact,” Barthell said. “One of the unchanging amendments that we need to constantly discuss—regularly discuss—is the value of our undergraduate learning experiences.”
Students at the university recently received a 9.9 percent tuition increase, which many have said is cutting into the value that students receive.
“We are an integral member of an informed and indispensable mission, dedicated to the dumbing down of this state, the dumbing down of America,” Betz said.
New plans for the university’s website were revealed, with snapshots of different pages, and Charlie Johnson, vice president for University Communications, said that the final product is planned to be released in 2017.
“I believe it will be a professional, easy to read and navigate, mobile-ready, convenient, and compelling website that will serve UCO for many years to come,” Johnson said.
Faculty and staff from across campus received awards at the forum, including leadership awards and outstanding mentor awards, many of which were sponsored by banks.