Members of the Tulsa Senate delegation are questioning the State Regents' decision to build a new higher education bureaucracy in Tulsa before addressing the academic needs of the area. At a meeting last week, the State Regents began the process of hiring new administrators for the proposed OU/OSU-Tulsa, even though pending enabling legislation mandates that academic improvements take place before such an institution can be created.
"There's plenty of time to build a bureaucracy after the Regents have improved academic opportunities in Tulsa. Hiring the new bureaucrats before you address the student needs is putting the cart before the horse," said Senator Penny Williams, co-author of the legislation.
"This is the same old 'ready, fire, aim' approach that has led to a history of broken promises on Tulsa higher education. The people of Tulsa doesn't need a bunch of new bureaucrats; they need the academic opportunities they've been promised time and time again by the State Regents," said Senator Charles Ford, co-author of the legislation.
In a letter to Chancellor Hans Brisch, Tulsa Senators raised questions about the Regents' action, saying their "priorities are misplaced, focusing on bureaucratic rather than academic needs....We feel it would be far more productive for the Regents to focus on the steps necessary to increase academic offerings in Tulsa, which after all is the main goal of our legislation."
The Ford-Williams legislation requires OU and OSU to offer at least 25 degree programs with a minimum of 25 students in each before the legislation could become effective. If OU and OSU were unable to offer the required number of degrees, the current Rogers University structure would be retained.
"No wonder the people of Tulsa, especially the students, are frustrated. They pick up the paper and read about the State Regents hiring new bureaucrats for their school, but nothing about expanded course offerings. It's tough for them to trust the State Regents when things like that are going on," said Senator Ford.
February 10, 1998
Dr. Hans Brisch, Chancellor
Senator Charles Ford
Senator Penny Williams
Senator Maxine Horner
Senator Lewis Long
Senator Kevin Easley
Senator Jerry Smith
Senator Ged Wright
Senator Jim Williamson
Tulsa Higher Education
We wanted to comment on actions taken by the State Regents for Higher Education at their February 6th meeting.
Your decision to put the creation of OU/OSU-Tulsa on a fast track is most interesting, given the doubts you expressed earlier about the Regents' ability to implement our legislation by your July 1, 1998 timetable. Even though the necessary legislation has not yet been approved, you have already taken the first steps to building a new bureaucracy for the Tulsa institution, even starting a nationwide search for its new director.
We would suggest your priorities are misplaced, focusing on bureaucratic rather than academic needs. The people of Tulsa are more interested in the course offerings of the new institution, not the person who will ultimately be chosen to act as its administrator. We feel it would be far more productive for the Regents to focus on the steps necessary to increase academic offerings in Tulsa, which after all is the main goal of our legislation.
Some may interpret your latest actions as an attempt to proceed unilaterally without legislative approval, thus thumbing your nose at the Legislature, namely the Tulsa delegation. Such an action would conflict with the statements of Regents chairman Robert McCormick who has said on many occasions that elected officials will decide the fate of higher education in Tulsa. It would also conflict with state law and would most certainly invite a lawsuit.
As you know, the OU/OSU-Tulsa legislation was filed almost a month ago. You have had several weeks to review the material, but have yet to offer any direct feedback to us. Until we hear differently, we must assume that you are in agreement with all aspects of the legislation and will have no difficulty complying with it.
We look forward to your response.