For the first time in the history of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governing board met entirely online today to discuss business affecting the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University, and RSU. Among other decisions made, the 127 year-old governing board made the decision to approve RSU’s request to not raise tuition.
The meeting was chaired by Regent Frank Keating, a former Governor of Oklahoma. RSU President Larry Rice and Vice President for Administration and Finance Mark Razor presented nine items for consideration before the regents. Agenda items ranged from academic changes to university finances.
“We based our budget upon a very conservative enrollment number,” said Rice. During his presentation of RSU’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Rice summarized key areas of it. RSU is anticipated to bring $32,015,849 in revenue and is anticipated to expend $33,417,709.
According to the meeting’s minutes, full-time university faculty and staff who earn $25,000 or more “will be required to take 96 hours of unpaid furlough.” This amounts to one day each month or an approximate 4.6% wage cut. However, the report included by RSU states “if the University meets certain enrollment benchmarks, the furloughs will be cancelled.” The proposed budget passed unanimously.
Four items were considered together and were passed unanimously by the regents. These included:
- Lowering the admissions requirement for the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from 72 hours to 60 hours
- Approving a new four credit hour chemistry course that would satisfy the physical science requirement for a student’s general education
- Approving the $160,000,000 Campus Master Plan of Capital Projects that reflect long-term plans for campus improvements
- Renewing the university’s contract with Sodexo Food Service until June 30, 2021 including a $52,500 signing incentive
- Approving a contract with Source One Management Services Inc. to provide custodial services to all of RSU’s campuses
- Appointing Dr. Amy Richards, Department of Health Sciences, to the Bernsen Endowed Professorship in Nursing effective August 1, 2020
- Naming Dr. Sue Katz-Amburn, Department of Biology, as professor emeritus
Previously, RSU announced it would seek to not raise tuition or fees for the 2020-21 academic year. “We want to ensure that all RSU students have the opportunity to succeed when they enroll,” said Rice in a May press release. The regents approved this measure, and it will go before the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
Additionally, the regents approved a freeze on meal plan increases. All meal plans used by residents and those used by commuters or faculty will remain at their current rate.
Gallery: Students Return To Campus for First Day
RSU Announces #HealthyHillcats and Required Masks
Earlier this past week, RSU finalized plans for the fall semester. As a part of its coronavirus response plans, RSU will require masks, end their fall semester online, and reduced dining capacity. This is a part of their #HealthyHillcat social campaign.
“We are less than a month away from the beginning of the fall semester and each passing day is a mixture of hopeful anticipation and new unexpected challenges. This year will look very different,” said RSU President Larry Rice
RSU joins a growing list of Oklahoma colleges requiring face coverings for the fall semester. Since June 30, RSU employees have been required to wear masks according to a new employee policy.
Students will be expected “to wear a mask inside University buildings and outdoors on campus when a social distance of at least six feet is not possible.”
RSU has moved forward with a recommendation to end their in-person semester early and finish online. Following Thanksgiving, RSU will transition to one week of online instruction and continue online for finals week.
While no decisions to change class schedules have been announced, the university’s webpage for the coronavirus resources suggests modifying upperclassmen courses for hybrid and online delivery is an option.
Dining facilities at RSU will operate a reduced capacity and are encouraging take-out options.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 8:56 a.m. on July 20, 2020 to include a statement by RSU President Larry Rice.
Allied Health Degree Becomes Fastest Growing Program at RSU
It is a story 29 years in the making and involves an Oklahoma Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame inductee. Brian Coley serves as the lead instructor for the Allied Health, B.S., program. Last year, Coley approached the School of Professional Studies with an idea to expand RSU’s offerings of health science degrees.
Coley spoke to School of Professional Studies Dean Susan Willis, and together, they worked to establish an allied health program that will prepare RSU students for a variety of healthcare careers and graduate degrees.
“I’m at a part of my career where I want to work with and teach students before they go onto their master’s,” described Coley. The allied health program offers options in athletic training, physical therapy, and occupational therapy and currently has over 90 declared students.
Licensure in Oklahoma as an athletic trainer requires individuals to possess a bachelor’s degree. However, an increasing number of athletic training positions are requiring master’s degrees. This is where Coley saw an opportunity.
“9% of our high schools [in Oklahoma] have certified athletics trainers,” said Coley. The demand for them is increasing. Over the next eight years, the United States Labor of Bureau Statistics expects the profession to grow by 19%.
Currently, only three Oklahoma universities offer a graduate degree in athletic training. Coley explained the curriculum for RSU’s allied health program aligns with the prerequisite courses for Oklahoma State University, University of Tulsa, and University of Central Oklahoma.
Courses RSU students will take include: Biomechanics, Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries, and Methods of Strength and Conditioning. Coley explained longterm plans to eventually embed a strength and conditioning certification into the degree. “We want to make sure they’re prepared,” said Coley, “there is a shortage in physical therapy.”
Mya Hilderbrand, a junior studying allied health, described her experiences in the program. “I took a sports medicine class in high school and really enjoyed it…. when I came to RSU they only had a fitness management degree, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
“Then, my sophomore year I heard RSU adopted the allied health program, and it offered the exact degree I wanted. So far, the program has been amazing. Professor Coley, the main director of the program, has done an amazing job.
“He is extremely informative and prefers to do a lot of hands-on activities, which important for this field of work. He also cares a great deal about his students and offers any help they may need,” said Hilderbrand.
Allied health students can expect a hands-on experience with opportunities for field experience. Whether a student is “in a clinic, on the sideline” or helping at the Hillcat Fun Run, they will have the opportunity to practice their skills. The end goal is students to “walk into their first [graduate] class, and they’re ready to go,” said Coley.
Students interested in the Allied Health, B.S., program should visit the Department of Health Sciences website or consult their academic advisor.