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OSU Regents approve $560 million budget

Updated:
TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State University regents on Friday approved a record $560 million operating budget, an increase of 7.5 percent from last year's $522 million total.

The budget includes salaries for 23 new faculty members at the Stillwater campus. OSU's faculty now exceeds 1,000 for the first time.

The budget also includes a 7 percent increase in resident tuition and a 9 percent increase in nonresident tuition. But pay raises for most schools within the OSU system were not approved and may not be possible this year due to increased utility costs and a decrease in tuition revenues.

The issues of pay raises could be revisited in September, school President James Halligan said.

The nine colleges and schools within the OSU system received $9.4 million in new state funds this year, a 4.4 percent increase. But revenue losses and fixed-cost increases totaled more than $5.5 million.

Harry Birdwell, vice president of business and external relations, said the budget emphasizes academics and retention and has helped move the school's freshman-retention rate up to 85 percent, the highest in the state and within the top three of the Big 12 schools.

Oklahoma State also has the highest graduation rate of any public school in Oklahoma, at 52 percent.

Also Friday, regents approved a request by OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl to almost double the start-up budget needed to establish a daily shuttle service between OSU campuses in Tulsa and Stillwater.

OSU-Tulsa was originally authorized to spend $320,000 on two buses. At an April 27 meeting, Trennepohl promised the new shuttles would include computer data ports, overhead lighting, table trays and bathroom.

The buses will include all the promised features, plus luggage storage under seats, Trennepohl said.

National Bus Sales and Leasing was the only one of several bidders able to provide the buses by the start of the fall semester, he said.

``I felt a strong commitment that we've told people we would start service for the fall semester, and we're going to do that,'' Trennepohl said, explaining why other bids were dismissed. ``We've got so many people calling, asking if they'll be available in the fall.''

Trennepohl said the school is expected to ``break about even'' on the shuttle service, which will be free to OSU faculty members. Commuting students will be asked to pay a fee to ride. The service will become operational for fall 2001 classes.

In other business, regents heard that OSU-Tulsa is on track to meet its 20-year goal of increasing student enrollment to 20,000 by 2020.
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