OKLAHOMA CITY ― Budget cuts could end an Oklahoma National Guard leadership program that’s offered at three state universities.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University President Randy Beutler announced last week that the university will terminate the Guard Officer Leadership Program at the end of the semester due to federal budget cuts. There are currently programs at Rogers State University and East Central University.
“It is unfortunate that we are losing this military leadership program on our campus and in western Oklahoma,” Beutler said. “This has been a very successful course for SWOSU, the Oklahoma National Guard and especially those students who participated in the program.”
The Oklahoman reports that the program gives leadership training to students enlisted in the Guard planning a career in the military or civilian life. The Guard pays for their tuition and training.
Maj. Casey Reed, who oversees the program, says Guard officials are exploring alternatives that would allow a modified version of the program. He says a hybrid program is a likely outcome at one or more of the participating campuses.
Rogers State officials are “absolutely committed” to continuing the program, Reed said. “It may look a little different. The instruction, the way it’s taught may change.”
The Guard will continue to identify and enlist qualified students to train as leaders, according to Reed. Soldiers currently in the program will continue toward their goal and the Guard will continue to pay their tuition, regardless of the outcome.