OSU-Tulsa president says Legislative spurn will mean spending of reserve dollars

Friday, June 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- His plans for millions of dollars from the Legislature this year squashed, the president of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa says the school will have to use its reserve funds to make staff and program additions.

The school had sought $5.4 million from the Oklahoma Legislature this year to begin adding more than two dozen new professors beginning in the 2001-02 school year, said OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl.

That was just part of $16.9 million the school wanted over three years to fund 27 new faculty positions and add 14 new degrees in business, engineering and information technology.

But lawmakers approved only about $800,000 in additional money to OSU-Tulsa. Trennepohl said he now plans to spend down the school's reserves -- about $4 million -- over the next three years, adding as many faculty members and degree programs as he can.

"We cannot fail in our mission to bring a full offering of academic programs to the Tulsa area," Trennepohl said.

"The stakes are too high. We cannot miss our part in helping diversify the Oklahoma economy with information technology and telecommunication graduates. It we fail, we risk being left behind by the rest of the nation."

Trennepohl said the reserve spending will leave OSU-Tulsa operating at a $700,000 or $800,000 shortfall each year. But he said that should be offset under the provisions of Senate Bill 1426, which created the university in 1998 out of the former University Center at Tulsa. Trennepohl said the bill provided additional funding from the Legislature each year for OSU-Tulsa.

Trennepohl said OSU-Tulsa's annual operating budget is about $9 million.

He said graduate programs at the school are to be shared primarily between OSU and the University of Oklahoma as part of the OU-OSU Research and Graduate Education Center.

State funding for the proposed OU-OSU research center, to be located on the OSU-Tulsa campus, is about $2 million a year and appears to be on solid ground.

Trennepohl said OSU-Tulsa needs $40 million to build an adequate research building.

The school also learned last week that Sen. Penny Williams, D-Tulsa, would be committing $1 million in bond money to the school for capital improvements, Trennepohl said.

Meanwhile, other state schools formed by SB 1426 are growing without the funding problems seen at OSU-Tulsa.

Rogers State University in Claremore got $1.2 million from the state regents in May to continue to convert to a four-year university that offers both community college classes and baccalaureate programs.

Northeastern State University received $2 million in fiscal year 2000 and another $2 million this year to help fund programs at its Broken Arrow campus, now under construction.