Lower high school graduation rates, increased admission standards and stiff competition from neighboring universities caused a slight decline in enrollment across Oklahoma State University’s five campuses.
Overall, enrollment declined about 0.4 percent 32,265 this fall, compared to 32,402 last year, according to a report presented at Friday’s meeting of the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents in Stillwater.
Enrollment at the Stillwater and Tulsa campuses totaled 23,005, compared to 23,307 in the fall of 2006.
“We knew we were going to have a decline in enrollment,” said Albert Colom, vice president for enrollment management at Oklahoma State University. “Our goal in the next two years is to turn that ship around.”
Colom told the regents the university has had serious competition from neighboring universities, such as Arkansas, when it comes to offering scholarships. Some schools were offering the same scholarships to students with ACT scores in the mid-20s as those with scores in the low 30s, Colom said.
“Parents basically come to me and say, ‘match it,'” Colom said. “We just couldn’t compete in some cases.”
The report had bright spots: the number of Hispanic, Native American and international students increased throughout the system, and new international students increased for the fourth year in a row, according to the report.
In other business, the regents approved the planning and bid process for the Ridge Road Greenhouse project, a controlled environment greenhouse facility for conducting national security research.
Funding for the project would include $605,000 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and $500,000 from the OSU College of Agriculture.
Regent Doug Burns also offered a progress report on the OSU system’s search for its new president, saying he hopes one will be selected by the end of the year. Burns, who is chairman of the 33-member search committee, said he was “confident” the next president is in the current batch of applications.
The university has not disclosed the names of the nominees or the number of applicants. One former regents’ chairman, Burns Hargis, resigned in July from the board, saying he wanted to evaluate the possibility of serving as OSU’s president.
Marlene Strathe, OSU’s provost and interim president, would not say last week if she had applied for the presidency.
– Associated Press
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